Global electronic company Samsung has revealed it has maintained sales rates in various sectors, despite the closures as part of the precautionary measures against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the beginning of this year.
Ahmad Gaafar, Head of Corporate Marketing at Samsung Egypt, said that the company was able to achieve growth of 19% during the first quarter (Q1) of 2020. The growth rate reached 9% during Q2, as closures were imposed to confront the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, the growth rate reached 30% in the Q4 of this year.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Gaafar said that Samsung’s reliance on unconventional sales channels and multiple sales methods such as Facebook and chatbots, have all contributed to meeting customer needs and maintaining sales rates.
How did Samsung deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic?
For Samsung, any challenge is a new investment opportunity, as the challenge helps to develop innovative solutions to overcome this challenge.
For example, with regard to the coronavirus pandemic, it affected customers from two aspects, the first of which was the customer’s behaviour. Instead of the customer moving on a daily basis between his home and his workplace, the precautionary measures caused this to change as customers mainly stayed at home.
Also affected was the customer’s lifestyle, which changed due to the precautionary measures, as they abandoned entertainment.
This came in addition to the decrease in the number of hours the customer was allowed on the street due to the curfew, which meant losing the opportunity to sell by at least 50%.This also saw a decrease in the number of working hours for the stores.
Therefore, we tried to adapt the new situation to suit the workflow, as well as search for new innovative solutions that ensure continued growth and meet consumer needs.
We found that customers have turned to the Internet to get the products or services they need, and therefore we focused on online during the coronavirus period to keep pace with the change in customer behaviour. This in turn caused a significant growth in Samsung online sales.
We have also created new sales channels to keep pace with the changes in customer behaviour, such as using the company’s Facebook page in Egypt to receive purchase orders from customers, rather than using it solely to communicate with customers.
We have also opened a new channel to sell through the “chatbot” service by sending the purchase order to the customer’s WhatsApp number.
We have also established a new “TeleSales” service centre, through which we communicate with old and potential clients to present our products. This has contributed to increasing sales and compensating for the negative effects of the precautionary measures taken to confront the coronavirus.
We have also provided facilities for the processing of delivering orders to customers, as we have provided delivery services for various products without shipping charges, as well as installing the product, whether washing machines, refrigerators or TV screens.
All of these steps taken by Samsung contributed to offsetting the negative effects caused by the closure policy to prevent the outbreak of Coronavirus.
What is the share of the company’s sales acquired by online sales channels?
At the outset, we must emphasise that the orientation to online sales channels is part of Samsung’s strategy for the current year, but the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the acceleration of reliance on it.
In Samsung’s strategy, we focus on supporting online sales, either through our e-commerce partners such as Jumia, Souq, and Noon, or through our own sales channels.
The coronavirus pandemic contributed to pushing our sales forward despite the closure policies and other precautionary measures and if we refer to the official Samsung figures, we will see that.
For example, in Q1 of the year, we achieved sales growth of 19%, depending on the traditional sales channels, especially since Egypt had not begun to implement precautionary measures in Q1.
In Q2, we were able to achieve a growth in sales of 9%, although this period saw Egypt implement a strict policy of closure and apply a curfew. This growth was achieved due to our reliance on online sales channels to continue to meet customer needs.
In Q3, we raised sales growth to 31% by focusing on online sales and traditional sales channels, and these indicators prove that we have successfully overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
It is expected that we will achieve a growth in sales during the last quarter of this year at a rate of 30%.
Do you have plans to expand online sales?
Indeed, going online is part of Samsung’s strategy in Egypt even before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, so we launched an online selling platform under the name “e-store”.
There is always fierce competition in the middle price segment. Nevertheless, Samsung has managed to control the largest share of sales, whether in this segment or other. What is your view on this?
We always see competition as a kind of motivation for success, and therefore we deal with competition positively to improve the performance and efficiency of our products.
The market share indicators prove this, as we are the first in terms of market share in the TV and mobile phone market.
What supports our strong presence in global electronics sales is the provision of a wide base of products in various price segments, for example in the phone market we have in every price segment a list of products that meet all needs and at different price levels, which gives us a competitive advantage compared to other companies.
As for TV screens, we have a wide base of products from 32 inches to 82 inches. In home appliances, we offer a variety and contrast that satisfy all needs, all depending on modern technologies, which gives us a competitive advantage.
What are the expansion plans for traditional stores?
Currently, we have reached about 64 branches across Egypt, and we plan to increase it to 68 outlets during the next year.
Were the sales of any sectors affected due to the coronavirus?
In general, there was no negative impact on any of the sectors in which Samsung operates. For example with regard to televisions, their sales increased during 2020 compared to 2019, especially during the Coronavirus period, due to the commitment of a large group of consumers at home and their needs for television.
Refrigerators also witnessed an increase in sales, as customers stopped buying ready-to-eat food from abroad, and instead bought large quantities of their groceries, vegetables, and fruits.
Consumers’ appetite for online purchases and the use of digital services also contributed to the increase in the sales of smartphones, which contributed to the growth of Samsung’s phone sales as well.
Due to the economic effects of coronavirus the consumer’s purchasing power has decreased, and instalments have become a major tool for buying. Do you have plans to support this trend?
Indeed, we have partnerships with a number of banks, such as Banque Misr, the Commercial International Bank – Egypt, and QNB Alahli, as well as some consumer finance companies such as ValU and Aman to provide instalment facilities to customers.
There are instalment programmes up to a year without interest, and some programmes are offered to customers with reduced interest.