May 9, 2012, 3:51 PM

Mexican retailer Elektra plans to expand online

The multichannel diversified retailer plans e-commerce sites in five more countries. 

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Mexico-based retail chain Grupo Elektra plans to build an e-commerce presence far beyond its home turf, with a retail web site expected to launch this year in Argentina and another possibly in Guatemala, says Jorge Perez, director of I.T. for retail and supply chain systems. Elektra also plans to eventually sell online in the three other Latin American countries where it now operates stores, he adds.

“We see a lot of potential online,” Perez said in an interview with Internet Retailer at a conference Monday hosted by Manhattan Associates Inc., a provider of supply chain and warehouse management technology.

Elektra, which primarily sells consumer electronics but also products in categories including furniture and motorcycles, operates 1,000 stores in Mexico and another 400 across Argentina, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and Brazil.

The retailer launched its first and so far only e-commerce site—Elektra.com.mx—in late 2010. The site was developed in-house on Microsoft Corp.’s .Net technology, which Elektra plans to continue using to develop its new sites, Perez said. The site carries about 400 SKUs, compared with about 1,300 in most of its stores, he adds.

Although Elektra’s initial e-commerce site in Mexico accounted for only a small percentage of the retailer’s total 2011 sales of about 10 billion pesos (US$741.70 million), the retailer’s web sales could grow, Perez says, from upcoming online marketing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.

Elektra sources most of its merchandise within the countries where it has retail operations. It operates 11 distribution centers in Mexico and eight across the five other countries where it operates.

It supports its distribution operations with web-based technology from Manhattan Associates, including a warehouse management system, a distributed order management system and Manhattan’s Extended Enterprise Management system. The distributed order management system, commonly called DOM, enables Elektra to route online orders to the most appropriate distribution center. The Extended Enterprise Management system enables the retailer to issue purchase orders to suppliers, and receive advance ship notices from them regarding inbound shipments of merchandise, through a web portal provided by Manhattan Associates.

The combined technology system also enables Elektra to see online shipment status reports from suppliers. The system helps to coordinate the placement of accurate shipping labels on each delivered box of products, which has enabled Elektra to reduce to about 45 minutes from two hours the average time required to unload a truck container at an Elektra distribution center, Perez said.

Perez said he expects to extend the Manhattan technology to each of its planned e-commerce sites. “It will take about one and half hours to connect each site,” he said.

Strategies for managing inventory will be addressed at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 next month by Daniel Yen, CEO of MovieMars.com, and Sean Cook, CEO of ShopVisible LLC, in a session titled “Managing inventory in a hyper-fast world.”

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