From a nationwide store presence and wide product range to adding value to customer service and increasing its women empowerment program, Bülent Gürcan, General Manager of TeknoSA, explains what is securing the company’s position as a trusted technology retail leader in Turkey.
Turkey ranks among the lowest economies in terms of the G20 countries, but there are very ambitious goals for 2023, such as becoming one of the top 10. What are some of the steps that the government could take in order to boost Turkey to where it should be?
Turkey is not independent from the global economic conjuncture. Although we did not feel the 2008-2009 crisis deeply, we are still suffering its post-effects. The point at which we are lucky is that our financial system came out of the past crises stronger and all sectors increased their own durability.
Turkey has great potential to be a strong player in its region and in the world economy. The expectation from the new government is for it to take steps in paving the way for us economically.
Hereby, producing an economic restructuring becomes prominent, as we always talk about. While continuing to enhance exports and decrease unemployment, the dominant trend should be to make investments to enable sustainable growth, and the expectation of performing structural reforms within this framework. We can turn the digital revolution into an opportunity.
There is no doubt that Turkey is immune to the developments in the world and in its region while aiming at its targets. There will be challenges while we move towards our target, including global economic recessions, exchange rate fluctuations, and geopolitical tensions or threats. With a decisive political will and the business world unified under common targets, the performance of Turkey will reach its the expected point.
Our young and dynamic population is the most important advantage for our private sector focused on growth.
How do you think the current economy climate is affecting consumer demand for TeknoSA?
When we look from our sector’s aspect, what we see is promising. The Turkish consumer technology products market continues to grow at double-digit figures. In the first half of 2015 it made an annual turnover of 18.4 billion TL with a growth performance of 16% with respect to the same period of the previous year.
Turkey is a market where new generation technologies are growing with increasing internet and mobile data usage rates day by day, and with its young population, the market has strong potential.
According to the research on Household Usage of Information Technologies performed by the Turkish Statistical Institute in 2015, there is internet access in 7 houses out of 10. There is a mobile phone or smartphone in 96.8% of the houses and there is a desktop computer in 25.2%, a laptop in 43.2% and a TV connecting to the internet in 20.9% of the houses.
The number of houses is continuously increasing in Turkey. About 700,000 marriages happen in Turkey in a year. Every new couple needs a new home and consumer technology products. Technology, which becomes a need in our lives, keeps its attraction with new value-added products. The frequency of changing products is also increasing.
On the other hand, the second driver of this growth is an increase of white goods usage. For white goods, still the penetration of environment friendly products of the AAA kind of consumption is not high, so people will switch to the new products in the coming period.
Mobile phones and smartphones are the drivers of the sector’s growth. The telecommunications (TC), major domestic appliances (MDA) and small domestic appliances (SDA) sectors grew fastest, in terms of value, because now lifestyles have changed and health becomes a priority. Products with large capacity, low energy, and low water consumption, improved their market share in all MDA segments. The best performance in SDA came from the shavers, vacuum cleaners, deep fryers and hot beverage makers segments. Other than this, of course, are new TVs – Ultra HD, 4K, and those kinds of innovations increase in terms of sales.
What is TeknoSA’s progress towards its 2023 targets either locally or internationally if you’re trying to expand?
TeknoSA has achieved an important milestone for the sector by reaching 81 cities in Turkey. We are making technology easily accessible for everyone with almost 300 stores, teknosa.com and mobile applications. Within the scope of our omni-channel-multi-channel model we are focusing on giving our customers a perfect, seamless and integrated experience.
Our focus is to develop the best omni-channel experience. We are wherever our customers are. We try to offer the same experience wherever they want, either in their office or just on the couch watching TV. Now the new trend is two screens, so we are not only watching TV, we are checking our mobile phone while watching TV.
The main screen is our mobile phone. TeknoSA has about 1.5 million subscribers in online mobile applications and 15% of our online turnover is coming from mobile applications.
We have made investments for 20 new stores in this year. We will increase our service area to almost 175,000 meters squared with openings, closings and moving. While continuing our store investments, we are keeping a strong growth in e-commerce.
Approximately 10% of our total turnover is coming from our online sales. We are making a big focus on “click and collect” and that’s another advantage of TeknoSA because as we are operating in 81 cities, we are everywhere. Our customers can click and then collect their products from our stores immediately. We have a Mediterranean culture so we usually do not have the patience to wait days to own a product.
As a Turkish population we like to visit shopping centers. It’s a family entertainment opportunity especially at the weekends at a very affordable cost, such as having lunch at a fast food area and visiting all the stores, finding some entertainment for the kids.
In our research we have found that while the rate for searching on the internet and buying from the store is 76%, the rate for searching on internet and buying from internet is 15%. The rate for searching on the internet and from the store and buying from the internet is at the level of 11%. The growth of e-commerce is promising. Within this scope we believe the omni-channel model we focused on and took important steps in will be the future of the retailing.
To keep that leadership going, we launched our loyalty program in 2008. Today, the number of participants in our (Orange Card) loyalty program has reached 4.5 million. We will continue to be very close to our customers via our channels and loyalty program.
What would you say about TeknoSA’s appeal for international and local stock market investors? What’s your appeal?
TeknoSA is the pioneering and leading electronics retailer in Turkey. We strengthen our leadership position via innovation. We are not just offering products but also value-added services and a seamless experience.
TeknoSA has achieved many firsts in the last 15 years. Recently, in the first quarter of 2015, we started to provide a virtual operator service. This development is one of the steps of TeknoSA within the scope of being a unique solution for technological products and services. It is very important for us in order to establish long-term, sustainable relationships with our customers. We strive to add value not only to telecommunication products but also to all technologies. We are saying “all-in technology” since the technologies we offer also need communication services. We offer all technologies in TeknoSA with special advantages to everyone who buys a TeknoSA mobile phone line.
“TeknoSA Mobil” does not only provide a mobile communication service but also focuses on creating a difference with our customer-focused retailing knowledge. An average of 3 million people in Turkey change their service provider in every quarter. As TeknoSA, we also offer advantageous and different solutions to our customers. We create value with our variety in technology products.
Actually 2015 has become a year full of innovation for TeknoSA. After TeknoSA Mobil’s launch in July, we’ve launched our private label smart products. With TeknoSA Preo P1 smart phone and our smart watch, Pwatch, we offer our consumers advanced technology with suitable prices. In all research where we ask the customer why they choose TeknoSA, one of the main answers is trust. They trust TeknoSA, so now we are converting or shifting that trust to our private label as well. Thanks to the performance of the first TeknoSA Preo branded products, we are working on new models.
On the other hand, we offer wide-ranging services related to technology which can be benefited from in the store, on the phone or at home or work, from warranty to set-up, and from technical support to protection under the roof of TeknoSA’s Dr. Teknolog brand. We will continue to offer new technologies and value-added services to our customers by leading them in their technology shopping during and after sales.
In TeknoSA we are helping our customers to have an all-inclusive technology experience: wherever they need, whatever they need, after sales, before sales, during sales, we are there.
Now, turning to the tech for women project and the initiatives, how are they working out and how are they going to spread technology across all of Turkey?
Women play a leading role in the sustainability of social development. As a father of a 22-year-old daughter I am personally more aware. At TeknoSA’s headquarters, close to 50% of our employees are women. Women are bringing discipline, good motivation and structure to the business environment.
We are trying to empower women in the community via our free-of-charge computer training programs, in place since 2007, as part of the Technology for Women Project. Our aim is to create value in the social and economic lives of women. Within the scope of the project the number of technology trainees has reached more than 14,000 women in 56 provinces up to today.
Women participating in training have an opportunity to use the advantages of the computer and internet world both at home and work. It is possible for women to be interacting with their children, grandchildren, immediate environment and even the world, to access information that they need according to their fields of interest and to carry out processes making the life easy, such as banking transactions, online shopping, etc. In addition, there are women who participate in these training sessions for their own business. They are trying to discover the internet and social media world in order to introduce their products which are made by them at home.
When we began the Technology for Women Project, computer usage rate among women was at the level of 23%. It is pleasant to know that this rate has reached almost twice that today. Besides, the contribution of women is more than the contribution of men in the increase of computer usage.
In cooperation with the Habitat Development and Governance Association and with the support of municipalities, local institutions and universities, as well as under the leadership of youth, we continue our project with the same excitement. Our aim is to enable more women to benefit from the project by extending the Technology for Women program to 81 cities.
What would you say makes your leadership different than others?
What I do first is to create a good organization climate into the company. I’m excited by the dynamism of retailing and unlimited opportunities of technology, and I feel lucky to be at the point where these two sectors coincide.
I played volleyball for 15 years. I believe that volleyball is an inspirational game for the business environment. It’s an 81 square meter area, 9m by 9m, where six people must work together. Sometimes the speed of the ball is 120km/hour and the distance is just 6 meters.
That’s why during these milliseconds you have to cooperate with your team member in order to decide who will get that ball. Doing sports is learning how to lose, understanding to lose and to learn a lesson to win next time. Sometimes you are the best of the team but sometimes you are the worst. Sometimes you are humiliated because of that and have to wake up, stand up, overcome that kind of failure.
In TeknoSA, there is teamwork. We are strong as much as our team. That’s what I believe.