- Thursday, 01 June 2023
- Written by Super User
With the goal of giving subscribers the latest technology in the “easiest, most pleasant and time-saving” manner possible, Georgian telecommunications company Cellfie Mobile is improving its network and introducing new digital products.
“We are already a market leader with our digital and internet offerings. 95% of our subscribers are internet users, compared to 60% to 80% of our competitors. The main thing we are going to improve is the network, both geographically and qualitatively. The demand for internet and digital services is growing so much that all improved channels are instantly absorbed by increased consumption. The first orders have already been placed with suppliers, so our customers should begin to feel the improvement by the end of this year,” Sopo Balavadze, Head of Public Relations at Cellfie Mobile, said.
Cellfie Mobile offers everything customers need in one place: the ability to communicate and share information, learn and develop personally, travel, be creative, have fun, and work.
Today Cellfie Mobile serves more than 1.3 million customers.
Cellfie has won its first Golden Brand award this year in the category of “favorite mobile provider”.
Golden Brand sat down with Balavadze to review the company’s operations in the country.
Q. What will Cellfie Mobile’s contribution to the market be and what new benefits will customers receive?
A. Our goal is to change and simplify people's lives by using modern technology. For example, each of us has dozens of bonus cards to accumulate points in various stores, pharmacies or other shopping networks. These cards are in some cases physical and need to be carried, sometimes digital but scattered across their own applications. In our updated app MyCellfie you can add all such cards at once, thus simplifying your daily routine.
Here is another example: do you want to exercise but can't go to the gym? Our fitness service will help you overcome this problem easily. Do you want to watch Khvicha Kvaratskhelia play? You don't need to look for a TV, you can instantly watch the match on any device through us.
In a word, we want to be with customers and make their everyday lives easier and more beautiful, and help create a better future. For example, in a little while our services will be able to help you learn a foreign language.
Q. What are some recent developments at the company?
A. Today's needs are significantly related to digitization, and require the development of an appropriate ecosystem on the part of the company. No company, no matter how big, can create hundreds and thousands of new digital products. In this world innovations happen every day and these innovations are spread across thousands of small and large companies. Of course, we also create important services and products ourselves, but we are not satisfied with this alone. We act as a platform for digital service providers to create national products, pave the way for startups, and provide access to 1.3 million customers again in order to make life easier for them.
Q. How would you assess the market in Georgia, how developed and ready is it to receive the innovative products that your company promises to customers?
A. As we mentioned before, our customers consume a lot of internet and digital products. The next step is the development of 5G technology. 5G offers virtually endless possibilities for the development of Internet speeds and cutting-edge digital services. This is a matter where the efforts of one company are not enough, because nowadays the number of devices that support 5G technologies in the country is very small. There is a balance to be found between licensing requirements and required investments and expected developments.
Q. Cellfie won the Golden Brand in the category of “favorite mobile internet provider”. How would you describe the brand’s abilities to provide best internet solutions to the customers
A. As you know, in the beginning, the function of mobile communication was actually only voice communication, then SMS was added to it, and later the internet. All three of these services still fit within standard telecommunications, but our company has moved beyond that, as alongside these standard services we help people with education and personal development (e.g. language learning apps), entertainment and cognition, in introducing a healthy lifestyle (fitness app) and, in making everyday life easier and more enjoyable. Today this is a digital reality, and talking only in terms of megabytes is already outdated. Of course, the level of coverage is important for the customer to receive quality service.
- Thursday, 01 June 2023
- Written by Super User
Autolpgas, a liquefied petroleum gas station network in Georgia, has been recognized as the most dynamic company in a survey by the most prestigious and influential business award ceremony, the Golden Brand.
Director of the company Nikoloz Khoperia shared his impressions of winning the company’s first Golden Brand award and reviewed the company’s operations in an interview.
Q. Autolpgas was named as the most dynamic and developed company. What led the company to this recognition, in your opinion?
A. We achieved this recognition through hard work and determination. When you are focused on getting things right, have good foresight and a team that works hard, it makes it easier for the company to succeed. Overall it is very difficult to introduce a new product to Georgia and have it become a favorite of Georgian customers. But we were able to do it, as we have since 2016.
Q. What do you mean by “new product”? Does this mean that liquefied petroleum gas was introduced to Georgia by your company in 2016? If so, why did you decide to bring this product to Georgia?
A. Until 2016, before we started converting cars over to liquefied gas, it was not used in Georgia for automobiles. It was used only for commercial and industrial purposes.
Regarding your question of why we decided to bring this kind of product to Georgia, as you know the majority of imported cars in Georgia are used. Thirty percent of these cars have already been converted to LPG in Europe, and so it was already happening.
We then dismantled these liquefied gas devices and threw them away, because there were no liquefied gas stations in Georgia. That is, Georgians paid the cost of this device when buying a car in Europe and then paid for its removal. We noticed this trend and decided to build liquid gas stations and the possibility of keeping these devices if the customers wanted and run the car on liquid gas, which is much more economical than other types of fuel.
Apart from this, tourists from other countries came in cars that ran on LPG, and they had no way to fill up in our country.
Q. How many liquid gas stations do you operate currently and do you plan to expand?
A. We have about twenty stations. The demand is high, but managing the stations is logistically very difficult. Liquefied gas is a specific product that can have natural losses. It needs a temperature regimen because it is very sensitive to temperature and is not an easy-to-operate product.
Q. On the company website we read that your business started in 2011 with Georgian Gas Import that was engaged in the import of Italian liquefied gas systems, and in 2016 you expanded operations with new stations under the name of Autolpgas. Please review this history for our readers/
A. Since 2011, we have been importing systems for converting cars from gasoline to natural gas and its components. We still import these from Italy. We cooperate with AB Electronics and are their only distributor in Georgia.
In 2014 the price of natural gas and gasoline almost equaled, as the price of oil fell and the price of gasoline went down. But the price of natural gas did not decrease. Back then, approximately 350,000 vehicles were registered as running on natural gas in Georgia. Since the price of natural gas did not decrease, people stopped pumping natural gas and started using gasoline again.
Until 2016 service centers converting from gasoline to gas were out of business, because new devices were no longer being installed. When we started converting cars to LPG, it was very unusual for the market at the time because there was no product awareness and no trust. Liquid gas and natural gas transfer devices overlap. So we offered liquefied gas, which was much cheaper than natural gas and gasoline.
Georgian Gas Import imports gas conversion devices, which we import from Italy, while Autolpgas is a network of filling stations, where customers can fill their cars with liquid gas imported from Russia.
Q. You said that before 2016 LPG was not used in cars in Georgia. What is the situation today since you introduced this product?
A. Many have started the same business. Now there are many companies operating in the same direction and the competition is quite high, which we welcome of course. Our company has a considerable market share and we can say it is the market leader. However, we welcome the fact that many companies are entering this field. The more service stations there are in Georgia, the more convenient it will be for the customers.
Q. What is the reason for high demand in your opinion - the low price of LPG or its almost harmless effects on the environment or human health as a low-carbon fossil fuel?
A. Unfortunately, not many people care about the environment in Georgia. Eco-friendliness is a determining factor in Europe, but in Georgia they choose liquefied gas because of the lower price. LPG is 50% cheaper than gasoline and is also a good product for the car. This is its advantage over gasoline.
To compare, last year 1,300,000 tons of gasoline and diesel were imported to Georgia, while the import of liquified petroleum gas reached 50,000 tons, which is about 4% of the fuel imported.
Q. I guess your competitors also import LPG from Russia, so what makes your company stand out?
A. High quality of product and service is what makes us stand out on the market. There is a difference in everything, you know that. Any product has a qualitative difference. We can confidently say that we offer our customers a quality product.
Q. As you import LPG from Russia, what challenges do the international sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine create for your company?
A. Sanctions create quite a lot of problems for us, but not in terms of the product, because liquefied gas is not sanctioned either in the world or in Georgia. Nothing comes into Georgia from the side of the sanctioned companies. If the product is not sanctioned, then it is allowed on the Georgian market. We face problems in financial operations, but we ensure uninterrupted product supplies in our market. Our customers will not feel these obstacles directly.
Q. What are the challenges you face in our country?
A. We hope that our government will fulfill its obligations under the Association Agreement signed with the European Union and lower the excise tax on LPG, which will make the product even cheaper for the customers. If we look at the percentage calculations, the excise tax on eco-friendly fuel should be four times less than on gasoline. Now, unfortunately, Georgia is the only country in the world where the excise tax on both types of fuel is almost the same. We hope this will be changed soon.
- Sunday, 28 May 2023
- Written by Super User
Carrefour is continuing to expand in Georgia with the Carrefour City franchise, bringing more smaller-sized convenience stores closer to customers throughout the country.
The new concept caters to smaller neighborhoods across Georgia and offers quick and easy shopping options, Jerome Akel, Country Manager of Carrefour Georgia, says, adding that the company is giving opportunity to small retailers and owners of mini-markets to develop their businesses and grow together with Carrefour under the brand of Carrefour City.
“The Carrefour City brand will be extended in 2023 by franchising it. Today we are welcoming entrepreneurs to become partners of Carrefour in Georgia and to run Carrefour City stores with us with the best purchasing conditions, having the best loyalty program in Georgia which is My Club and to cope with the needs of the population. We are on board entrepreneurs with us in franchise”, Akel said.
Carrefour City stores have up to 4,000 products on the shelves and are located in an area of 150 to 300 square meters.
Carrefour City stores have already been opened in Tbilisi, Zestaponi, Zugdidi, Batumi, and Kutaisi cities of Georgia while Carrefour plans to expand the concept across the country with at least 50 new stores per year.
“The Carrefour City concept is developed to answer the daily shopping needs of the customers with a focus on fresh food, beverages, groceries and dairy products. Our purpose is to help the customers buy their immediate needs, or weekly needs in a few minutes time and at the best price next their homes at Carrefour City stores”, Akel said.
Golden Brand sat down with Akel to find out more about the future plans of Carrefour in Georgia and discuss the retail market development in the country.
Q. Could you please tell us about Carrefour’s progress in Georgia?
A. Today Carrefour is operating in ten cities of Georgia with different kinds of stores. We have hypermarkets in Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, and Rustavi. We will be opening a hypermarket in Gori.
We also have supermarkets covering about 1,000-2,000 sq.m. where we sell approximately 15,000 items. We have supermarkets in Tbilisi, Poti, Telavi, Zugdidi, and Batumi.
Carrefour City is smaller than the supermarket where you can find all basic food, beauty, and hygiene products. On top of this we have a very rewarding loyalty program and promotions, and our teams are doing their best to treat customers with smiling faces and warm attitudes. All products under the Carrefour brand which are loved in Georgia will also be available at Carrefour City stores.
Q. You said Georgia is a “unique” country and also mentioned it is a “difficult market”. Overall, how would you evaluate the environment here for retailers?
A. During the pandemic we saw very strong involvement from our teams to keep the stores operating, while during the post-pandemic period we had to mobilize our people and purchasing teams on getting products, namely during the Ukraine conflict when many sources of products were coming from Ukraine and some parts of Russia. Last year was also challenging in getting new products with different origins.
What we have learned from the pandemic period is efficiency — we know how to work and make quicker decisions. We have seen the progress of e-commerce. I cannot say that many are astonished by the progress of e-commerce in Georgia; it represents less than 2% of the retail purchases. It’s not developing as fast as in other countries so far.
Q. Georgian customers have named Carrefour their favorite brand this year. What brought Carrefour this recognition, in your opinion?
A. One of the world’s largest hypermarket and supermarket brands, Carrefour — opened in Georgia by Majid Al Futtaim — has been a player in the Georgian market since 2012. Carrefour has provided Georgians with quality, variety and value; all contribute to making the difference for customers. Carrefour continues to innovate by combining price-competitiveness, convenience and enjoyment in order to provide an offering tailored to the expectations of each and every customer. Carrefour places customer satisfaction at the core of its business model.
Carrefour’s name is among the country’s largest investors and this is mostly due to the brand’s impressive contribution to the development of the Georgian economy and modern trade. Since its establishment the brand has brought a completely new, unbeatable trading experience to the country.
Carrefour brand food and non-food products and services fulfill the same criteria — a demand for quality and responsible products at a fair price. Carrefour’s ongoing efforts to support the growth and prosperity of communities they are part of is reflected through its contribution to the Georgian economy.
Before Carrefour came to Georgia there were few stores and especially hypermarkets. Carrefour’s entrance was a kind of “wake call” for local brands because we brought international experience to the country. Our employees have grown over the past ten years and offer their experience in the industry. We employ thousands of people in the country. As of today we have 4,500 direct employees, and 10,000 indirect employees. Every new store creates more jobs in the country.
We are raising the standard on the retail market of Georgia by meeting all international quality tests and standards. We even help some Georgian farmers involved in agro business to export food and vegetables, packed products, sometimes lamb, grapes, wine to other countries where Carrefour is operating.
Q. Golden Brand is given to the brands following the successful operations of the previous year. Please summarize the year 2022.
A. In 2022 Carrefour celebrated ten years in Georgia. During those years we gave our customers what they expected — high-quality products at affordable prices and fantastic promotions. It has become a tradition in Georgia to celebrate Carrefour’s anniversary by treating customers with special surprises to express gratitude for their trust and loyalty.
We have also expanded our presence in the country by opening many new stores.
In 2022, Carrefour implemented innovative marketing strategies using complex approach and innovative communication tools to establish deeper connections with its customer base and deliver a more personalized shopping experience.
Furthermore, Carrefour Georgia has implemented various charity projects throughout the year to support single mothers, kids with special needs, socially vulnerable families etc. with the aim of giving back to the community and making a positive impact on society. We have partnered with local and international organizations to ensure long-term sustainable projects for the communities we serve.
Q. What is the main reason behind Carrefour’s success in Georgia, in your opinion?
A. Carrefour's success in Georgia can be attributed to several factors, including its extensive product range, competitive pricing, convenient store locations, and strong brand recognition. Carrefour's ability to tailor its offerings to local consumer preferences and adapt to the Georgian market has also played a role in its success. Additionally, the company's investment in modern technology and customer-centered initiatives, such as loyalty programs, self-checkouts, etc., has helped it to stay ahead of the curve and meet the evolving needs of Georgian shoppers.
- Sunday, 28 May 2023
- Written by Super User
The residents of Georgian cities, including Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Zugdidi and now already Gori can enjoy quick and convenient access to their favorite restaurant, retail store or grocery shop, thanks to the Finnish- app Wolt. The Finnish tech company has been operating in Georgia since 2018, and is now expanding their business even further in the Georgian Market.
In the meantime, over 7,000 courier partners continue to deliver from the over 1,500 partner restaurants and 2,000 partner stores across five cities, - all in 30 minutes or less.
The company also plans to offer a wider assortment of products to its customers by increasing the number of partner merchants in the app.
In an interview with Golden Brand, General Manager of Wolt in Georgia, Sergi Margania, gave a status on the company’s operations in Georgia.
Q. Let’s start our conversation by talking about the company’s win of the Golden Brand award. In your opinion, what led Wolt to this recognition?
A. Any recognition of the work we do is great and something that we are proud of - and receiving the Golden Brand award is just that. For us this is primarily a reward from our customers, and we are very grateful for their recognition of what we do.
We can safely say that 2022 was a year of significant growth and progress for our company, which of course made an impression on experts and consumers in Georgia. Last year the number of our customers increased, together with the number of our partner merchants, which also increased significantly, and as a result our product assortment has become much more diverse ranging far beyond take-away delivery and more into retail and groceries.
We also entered the western city of Zugdidi, and we launched the Wolt+ subscription program that our customers have been waiting for and has been received really well.
Finally, last year we undertook some important projects not only for us but also 100+ stores and businesses in Georgia. First, I have to mention the launch of Wolt Drive. This is Wolt’s B2B service, through which any online merchant can offer delivery to customers within 30 minutes without being on the Wolt platform. Wolt Drive already helps hundreds of big and small online stores provide quick and convenient delivery which can be a very deciding factor for customers in today's world. Customers want fast delivery - and now we can help with that whether you are on the Wolt platform or not.
The second major project we launched last year is the creation of a Wolt service center that provides remote customer service for Wolt's other European markets. That means that brilliant young people right here in Georgia support customers in other markets such as Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Greece, with Germany soon to be added.
A final new addition in 2022 that I would also highlight is cooperation with Mastercard and the Bank of Georgia, which is important for us as well as for our customers. This cooperation allows us to offer our customers extraordinary incentive promotions throughout the year.
Wolt continues to grow and develop different business lines in our country. Everything is available on Wolt — take-away, delivery of groceries, personal care, auto services, pharmacy and much more. As the range grows, so does the number of our customers and their orders. We’ve seen this already as customers and orders almost doubled from 2021 to 2022. This is also thanks to the exclusive partnerships we have with popular restaurants and stores such as KFC, Paul, Ronny’s Pizza, Picasso, Gastronome, MetroMart, Zghapari, Tursa and many more which you can only get delivered through Wolt.
Q. How many orders are delivered in a day and at what time of day does Wolt get the most orders?
A. Thousands of orders are delivered every day, and this number is constantly increasing. Though previously it was mostly restaurant orders, today they order everything - pharmacy, groceries, auto parts, toys, and much more.
Now that you can order goods, we see high demand practically throughout the whole day. But the number of orders increases dramatically during lunch time and weekends and holidays are also quite busy, because Wolt always has promotions.
Q. Wolt faced a difficult challenge this year when hundreds of courier partners went on strike to demand a pay increase. Tell us about the company's attitude and response to this request and, in general, what is the company's policy towards its couriers?
A. First, let me clarify that this was a protest by a small group of partner couriers. We have more than 7000 couriers in Georgia, so while we listen to the criticism from this group, we also have to consider the feedback we get from the thousands of other couriers who have different views than this group. We've always expressed our willingness to engage in constructive talks if any of our partners are dissatisfied with the partnership, and our approach remains unchanged.
Q. The Georgia office was one of the first among Wolt’s 25 country offices to add delivery service from supermarkets. The Georgia office also occupies a top spot in the international office roster.
A. As I mentioned above, Wolt created a service center for other countries in Georgia. The company made this decision because our support service is one of the best and fastest in the world. Many of the young people who work with us are fluent in several foreign languages, among other skills, so the company saw a great potential for development in this direction. We can safely say that Georgia has become a talent pool for Wolt - and we’re quite proud of that.