Dark Store,What Does It Mean and How It Works?

The dark store is an innovative trend that arises from the growing boom in e-commerce. And it is that, by 2023, Mexico will reach 34 million sales revenue in electronic commerce, a figure that will also increase in other Latin American countries such as Chile, Colombia and Peru ( Statista ).

In addition, the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic has been accelerating the digital transformation of companies and their adoption of the e-commerce modality for the sale of their products. In this context, the dark store has become popular as a solution within the industry to reach digital audiences.

What is the meaning of dark store?

dark store or dark shop is a company that sells products in a 100% virtual. In other words, it does not have a physical store open to the public, only a physical space used for the eLogistics and administrative operations of the business. Therefore, customers do not have direct access to the products, but instead make their purchases from a web page or mobile application , and receive their orders through a home delivery service . 

To better understand the meaning of dark store , we can see the example of dark kitchens , which are the variant of dark stores in the gastronomy sector.

How is the work of a dark store?

Although a dark store does not have a physical store because it is a digital company , it does have warehouses located in strategic areas, with a wide coverage radius to make deliveries to its customers. In these warehouses orders are prepared to be sent. Therefore, there are no customers frequenting the place, there are no cash registers, employees to serve the public, among other resources.

Once the dark store receives the orders through its website, app or any other digital medium, the employees in the warehouse are in charge of packing the products and preparing them for shipment. Being ready, we proceed with the dispatch of goods , either in our own vehicle fleet or through outsourced logistics services such as Rappi, Uber Eats, among others.

In addition to the dark stores that work with employees to find and prepare the products in the warehouse, there are also other more sophisticated types of dark stores that automate these processes. This is achieved by implementing warehouse management software, collaborative robots, autonomous transport, among other technological resources. 

Examples of dark stores

Due to the rise of electronic commerce , dark stores in Latin America have become a viable solution to meet the growing demand for products through the Internet. Here are some examples of dark stores that work in the region: 

  • Example of a dark store in Chile

Although Walmart is a recognized retail (physical store), the company decided to implement its first dark store in Chile to streamline its online sales. This example of a dark store in Chile is located in Greater Concepción, thus being able to supply orders from the communes of Concepción, Hualpén, Talcahuano and San Pedro de la Paz. Customers can make purchases of up to 150 assorted products, which are shipped the same day to their home address. 

  • Example of a dark store in Mexico

Justo.mx is an example of a dark store in Mexico considered as a 100% online supermarket, which makes sales only through its website and mobile application . Through these platforms, Justo.mx’s dark stores sell more than 3,500 food, pharmaceutical, personal hygiene products, among others; and they offer delivery services for free the same day or the day after the purchase. 

  • Example of a dark store in Colombia

Chiper.co is an example of a dark store in Colombia that works in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Barranquilla. The dark Chiper.co stores in these locations are able to process more than 4,000 orders a day and offer more than 30,000 different products, which they sell to the highest at a low cost. Its app and website provide customers with an easier purchase and with a delivery range of less than 24 hours. Its services are intended for people who wish to supply from their pantry to their store. 

  • Example of a dark store in Peru

Vallejo Group is an example of a dark store in Peru . It is a group of companies in various fields that are in charge of selling their products online and sharing spaces and logistics operations with each other. Inside Vallejo Group’s dark stores are home improvement stores, electrical appliances, supermarkets, dark kitchens , among others; which make strategic alliances with logistics operators to make last-mile deliveries. 

How to optimize the operation of a dark store? 

For a dark store to provide a quality experience, it must guarantee not only good products , but also satisfactory customer-facing deliveries. To achieve this, the company must have tools that allow it to plan, manage and control shipments from when they leave the warehouse until they reach their final destination.

The use of these logistics tools is key for the proper functioning of the dark store , since thanks to them the productivity, profitability and effectiveness of the processes can be guaranteed. In addition, digital transformation is a very positive and differentiating business strategy for an increasingly demanding and competitive market.

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