- Ramon Rivera, CEO
3 Department Stores + Online
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We interviewed Ramon Rivera, CEO of Tienda Morena, home goods and kitchenware retailer in El Salvador. Tienda Morena was established in 1961 and is well known for its vast merchandise selection and excellent customer experience.
Ramon, as CEO, what is your greatest goal for Tienda Morena?
RR: I tell our sales associates every day – we are in the business of service. It is very important for me that the buying experience at Tienda Morena is about more than just taking a product home.
We cater to two main groups of customers: consumers – that is, people shopping for their own homes – and commercial, like restaurants or other food service – related businesses. The majority of our customers are repeat customers, and we are intentional to create experiences that keep them coming back. We are not a self-service store; we build relationships with our customers.
What is it about Tienda Morena that keeps so many of your customers coming back?
RR: Every 3 years we ask our customers how we're doing to gauge our position in the market. We gain new competitors every year, and now with ecommerce on the rise in El Salvador, it is all the more important for us to watch the data and ensure we don't lose our customers to the competition.
In those surveys, we see three main reasons for why customers love us.
1: Our everyday low prices. We've been running everyday low prices for a decade before Walmart became known for the idea!
2: Our variety. On any given day, we have 10,000 products in stock, with new items coming in 3 to 4 times monthly.
3: Our customer experience. We have a very high level of customer satisfaction.
Tienda Morena adopted Retail Pro 9 in 2012 and will be moving soon to Retail Pro Prism. What has been your experience with Retail Pro thus far?
RR: Before Retail Pro, we tried a lot of different software to satisfy our store needs. None of them met our expectations. With Retail Pro we are able to track inventory from the moment it is received in our warehouses to the point of the product leaving the store in the customer’s hands. That gives us all that integrated data visibility to work with in Retail Pro. It’s extremely useful.
Retail Pro also really simplified the checkout experience for us. A customer can spend all morning looking through the store, but once they get to the checkout, they just want to get out. So we wanted a streamlined user experience for our cashiers without all the extra clicks so they can increase transaction speed.
Tell us about your checkout process.
RR: Customers with fewer items can go to the express checkout. Our business customers, however, will buy in bulk, and when you buy in bulk you aren’t going to look through every single box to make sure nothing is missing or broken.
To make sure that our customers get what they came for in perfect condition and quality, we have a delivery area. The sales assistant will take the customer’s items to the delivery table and the dispatch assistants will check every item for them. It saves the customer from having to come back to the store again to deal with an incomplete purchase.
We also deliver orders to our business customers, making the purchasing process more convenient for them.
What do you hope to gain in adopting Retail Pro Prism?
RR: Our vision is for every sales associate in the showroom to have a tablet with Retail Pro Prism on it. This way, as they’re working with our business customers who are buying in bulk, they can use the POS to check the on hand quantity of the inventory items the customer needs, create the order right on the spot, and just send it to the cash register to print the invoice. It will significantly accelerate the checkout process for us.
You've been working with your Retail Pro Business Partner, Grupo Ejje, since 2012. What has that relationship been like?
RR: Grupo Ejje is a very good technology partner. They are reliable and very responsive each time we have an inquiry. They’re always there to help us.
You mentioned the end-to-end visibility you get with Retail Pro. How do you use that data to improve your operations?
RR: The numbers are very important for me. I visit each of our stores each week to look at the data together with the team and to motivate them to sell. We look at sales statistics against our sales goals, stock on hand reports – we are always tracking the data so we can increase inventory turn.
The reports show us our fast and slower-moving products, and then we'll use promotions to sell off the slow-moving products. That then gives us more space to introduce new products in our stores. Many of our products rotate 3 to 4 times per month, and nothing rotates longer than once every 2 months.
How do you use your data to improve the customer experience?
RR: We look at monthly reports of our best customers per store. We look very closely at whether a good customer last month didn't make the list this month and we reach out to them to see whether they had any upcoming ordering needs, etc. We want to ensure they haven’t gone to the competition!
We market to our customers primarily via SMS marketing on the What's App platform, and through Facebook and Instagram. We'll send or post pictures of new products and work with our business customers to create orders for delivery or pickup.
Ecommerce is relatively new to El Salvador. What is Tienda Morena's online retail strategy?
RR: Yes, ecommerce is still new here but I see the younger generation increasingly shopping online. We have had our virtual store for about 4 or 5 years now, and anticipate greater growth of online retail for El Salvador in the upcoming years. We are going through our fourth iteration of the site now, continuously optimizing for a more user-friendly, secure experience. We’ve learned a lot about how to improve the web experience to reduce friction and understand how important data security is for our customers.
Our stock on hand data in Retail Pro is integrated with the ecommerce site to ensure we are always able to fulfill the customer’s order. There is nothing worse for customer trust in the online experience than to buy online only to be told the retailer will be unable to fulfill the order.
What other technologies do you use to run your business?
RR: All of our back-office accounting software is integrated with Retail Pro, as well as the CRM. By law, we have to generate monthly reports of our sales and purchases to the government. So our transactional data in Retail Pro gets sent to the CRM, and from the CRM to the government. Integration with Retail Pro has made meeting these fiscal requirements simpler for us.