Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

“Retail data is used as a critical economic indicator all over the world”

13.09.2023 / İstanbul

The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Türkiye (TOBB) President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu attended the Local Chains Meet 2023 Conference and Fair.​

In his speech, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu said that the retail sector, which is the last pillar of production, supply and logistics, is a very large organization that brings products together with customers, the barometer of the country's economy, the employment factory and the insurance and guarantee of the food sector.

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that even more importantly, this sector is the leading indicator of the economy and said, “For this reason, retail data is used as a critical economic indicator all over the world. The development of the retail sector has a great share and contribution to Türkiye's growth. This is because the retail sector not only grows the local economy and increases production, but also ensures that local resources are processed by local SMEs and offered to the markets. Local chains are the locomotive of this sector. Local chain markets are strategically important for strengthening the local economy, boosting local employment and enabling small businesses to participate directly in the economy. Our sector increased the number of employment and continued to contribute to employment even during the period when the pandemic was intense.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “As a brother who knows our sector closely, I am in constant dialog with our federation. Because the local market chains gathered under the umbrella of the Turkish Retailers Federation act as an important bridge between the producer and the consumer. They contribute significantly to the development of the country's economy, both nationally and locally. With a total of 5,500 stores, local supermarkets play a very important role in modernizing the traditional food retailing channel. Local chains also support the participation of women and young people in the labor force through the job opportunities they provide. So every step that strengthens our sector essentially spills over into the economy as a whole. This conference is a great opportunity to give us ideas on how to improve our business.”

Stating that he is aware of the problems faced by the sector, the TOBB President said, “First of all, the slowdown in cash flow in the market, high inflation and cost increases are challenging us all. On the other hand, there are practices that lead to unfair competition in our sector. ‘Private label’ branded products prevent both the growth and branding of our SMEs. It also disrupts the competition within the sector itself. On the one hand, we say branding. But we are also grabbing the branded ones by the scruff of the neck. If this is not prevented, we will not have a national industry. Our industrialists and producers become subcontractors. Another important issue is low-weight products. The same product is presented in the same packaging, but with a lower weight and the consumer is deceived. This is actually a problem experienced by the entire sector. In order to prevent this, we should talk about introducing a ‘standard weight application’ for products offered for retail sale.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “While demanding from the public, we will also look to ourselves. In the past, shopping used to be done from a single point. Now, there are discount markets, markets at gas stations, sales at the market, Agricultural Credit Cooperatives, e-commerce sites and fast delivery companies. Where there are so many alternatives, as local markets, we need to find an answer to the question of how we can differentiate from them.

On the other hand, the old consumer profile does not exist. Life is rapidly evolving towards digital. The consumer is digital. They also carry their shopping to digital. Product reviews, product comparisons, what, where, how queries, brand experience, experience sharing, all are on the internet. Whoever can answer these more easily will have more chances. Those who cannot keep up with technology will fall behind.

The future is in e-commerce and mobile applications. You can adapt to these the fastest. For this reason, user-friendly digital media designs, mobile compatibility, on-line sales strategies, digital visibility should be on our agenda.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu said that another issue being followed in the world is data mining, that is, transforming raw data into information and using it, “You all know and use barcodes. Today, 99 percent of the products on the shelves of any market or shop have barcodes. Every day, barcodes are scanned millions of times at the cash registers. The organization that delivers these barcodes to you and ensures the operation of this system in our country is Global Standards 1, or GS1 Türkiye for short, which operates under the roof of TOBB. That beep sound you hear at the checkout shows that the GS1 system is working in the background. These barcodes not only allow the product to pass through the cash register quickly. They also allow us to manage stock, order and shipment processes more effectively. It shows you where trade has evolved and changing consumer behavior. In addition, thanks to each barcode used, the goods sold are deducted from the stock, and when the stock falls below a certain level, they are automatically ordered. Consumers also shop more reliably thanks to barcodes. Because the product can be tracked at every stage. Whatever information is needed, such as who the product belongs to, when it was produced, how long it has been in cold storage, can be accessed. The World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization also refer us to GS1 for product and supply chain issues. By closely following and using GS1 applications, you can establish a more efficient and effective working order and respond faster to consumer expectations.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu said that the future of the sector is bright and that Türkiye is urbanizing very rapidly. Hisarcıklıoğlu noted: “We have a large population that is more urbanized, more mobile, and wants to consume faster and easier. We are the sector that fits their consumption patterns the most and responds to their demands the fastest. So let's protect our sector. Let's protect our companies.

I have some suggestions at this point. Mobile applications provide great convenience to consumers. Whether companies or products can be reached through mobile applications has become much more important in consumer preferences. For this reason, your company or product will either have a mobile application or be included in a mobile application developed.

I said it last time and I’ll say it again. The most valuable land in the world is now the cell phone screen. You need to take your place on this screen. The passage of time has shown how right we were. This trend will continue and become even more important in the future, let’s not miss it.

Secondly, we need to learn the culture of partnership and joint action. In this era, if you want to earn more, you need to buy more and sell more, in other words, you need to achieve economies of scale.

Third, cooperate with local brands in the provinces. Build local producer brands as your common stakeholders. Grow together. Take ownership of geomarked products. Look, these were not known in the past. 20 years ago, do you know how many products we had with geomarkers? Only 31. Today we have exceeded 1,400. TOBB and our Chambers and Commodity Exchanges have embraced this work. We have given geomarkers to our local products and local values, we have protected them. We have protected this work not only at home but also abroad. We provided geomarker registration for our products in the European Union. The number of registered geomarkers that have the right to protection in the Union has increased to 14. Now no one will be able to use them without our knowledge and permission. With its 12,000 years of history, our Anatolia, home to dozens of civilizations, has thousands of local products. But if we cannot promote and market these values, if we cannot bring them to the economy, they are worth nothing. Look, people now prefer local and natural products. They pay more money for this. Geomarked products offer us this opportunity. It opens new opportunities for our producers and entrepreneurs. Let's use these opportunities”.

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that he believes that there is no burden that they cannot overcome when they join hands and said, “You have already determined a very beautiful theme as the main theme of this year's Conference. “When we are one, blessings are ours”. It is actually a theme that I always mention in my speeches and messages to our community. ‘There is grace and prosperity in unity and anguish in dissent.’ Saying ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ will bring success and unity.

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