Alexey Melnikov, CEO of Marvel Distribution
Russian broadliner Marvel Distributsia had unveiled plans to launch VseSmart, a chain of retail stores dedicated to smart devices and home technology. It remains to be seen whether the war waged by Russia in Ukraine and the western sanctions will thwart these plans.
The opening of the VseSmart retail store will ensure that the widest range of smart devices and entire ecosystems will be available to the customer, which can be tested and selected on any parameters within different price ranges. Marvel Distribution will be the first specialist player in this segment in the domestic market.
In the first six months of 2022, VseSmart plans to open 17 outlets in Moscow and St. Petersburg: 4 flagship shops (400-500 sqm in area and with a full assortment of over 1,000 devices from over 50 brands currently in stock) and 13 branded shops (50-70 sqm in area and most in-demand items). Over the next two years, more than 100 outlets are planned to be opened, first in million-strong cities and then in regional centres. The first flagship shop in Moscow and the first branded salon in St. Petersburg will open in February: in Afimall and Rodeo Drive shopping centres.
The flagship shops include so-called flatshops - a showcase format with an interior and built-in smart-life devices for different areas of life inside and outside the home (home appliances, electric transport, climate, resource saving, security, robotics, voice assistants, wearable devices, etc.). In branded shops, there are demo areas in a reduced version for the same purpose. In addition to the category display, the shops will have spaces where products will be grouped by smartphone apps that can be used to control them. All of these options for presenting smart home products will help demonstrate the complex operation of devices according to user-defined scenarios in rooms with defined functionality, for example, in the nursery, kitchen, bathroom, office, etc.
In its network, the company will present vendors which are still rarely seen on the shelves of federal retailers due to the fact that they have only recently appeared in Russia. These are both very young start-ups with new and in-demand products, and brands known abroad and with considerable expertise in the smart home segment (e.g. Dreame, Xclea, Jimmy, Dr.Bei, WalkingPad, etc.
"For us, this is a project that takes into account the current market situation. Firstly, we see a growing interest in the smartlife trend, which means that someone has to take over the promotion of this concept in Russia and introduce users to the entire range of devices available today. Secondly, we increase our value for vendors, because due to the transformation of the retail market, the D2C (direct to customer) approach is becoming increasingly important, i.e. distributors able to work through any online and offline channels directly with the consumer. Thirdly, this project provides us with higher margins than working as a device supplier within classical distribution", said Alexey Melnikov, CEO of Marvel Distribution.
"The smart devices market in Russia has left the early stage of its life cycle, when the majority of users are experimenters, and is beginning to become mass-market, so we expect an active growth in the number of users in line with global trends. The format we chose will help with this: every new product must be demonstrated and presented, and advice must be offered on how to choose one. As for possible overlap of the range with other market players, we feel confident, as we offer the maximum possible choice of smart goods in one location today", said Roman Nagornyak, General Director of VseSmart.