Alexander Shulgin: 'I think the fulfillment centre in Tatarstan will be fully filled in 4th quarter of the year'

A logistics hub of OZON marketplace with an area of 22,000 square metres and a cost of about 3 billion rubles has been opened near Kazan

OZON is scaling up its business in Tatarstan: following the official opening of the fulfillment centre, which is the main hub of the company in the Volga Region, the construction of the second stage has begun. Besides, in the next 2 years, one of the largest Russian marketplaces intends to introduce a number of logistics infrastructure facilities in the region. Another innovation is that the platform starts working with the self-employed. In the exclusive interview with Realnoe Vremya, Ozon CEO Alexander Shulgin spoke about the second stage of the logocentre, joint developments with Innopolis in the field of robotics, how he treats competitors, and whether online commerce will “swallow up” ordinary stores.

4,5 million products

Ozon marketplace has officially opened the first stage of the fulfillment centre, which has been operating in test mode for almost a year. The solemn ceremony was held with the participation of Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov. The new logistics complex is the main hub of the company in the Volga Region, which, however, works for the whole Russia.

The area of the new logocentre located on the territory of the Zelenodolsk Industrial Park is 22,000 sq. m. Eighty thousand parcels are processed here every day, which allows residents of Tatarstan to receive a significant part of online purchases during the day. And it seems that they appreciated it — in the first half of the year alone, the number of orders on Ozon in the republic increased 2,6 times.

The capacity of the complex is more than 4,5 million products of a diverse range — from food to furniture. The developer from Krasnodar, ROMEX, invested about 2 billion rubles in the construction of the first stage of the logistics centre, Ozon itself invested more than 900 million rubles. Now there are 670 employees working here, and by the end of the year there is going to be more than 1,000 people.

The fulfillment centre is, first of all, a modern logistics enterprise: many processes are automated here, an expensive Vanderlande sorting line works, which separates parcels without human intervention and put them in containers for shipment.

At the same time, the construction of the second stage of the centere is already planned — in parallel with the grand opening, the first pile was driven into the foundation of the new site, which will be located in the immediate vicinity of the building. It is being built by the same ROMEX, the opening is scheduled for 2023. Thus, the total area of the fulfillment centre will reach 44,000 sq. m. About 2,7 billion rubles will be invested in its construction and equipment: 1,8 billion — Romex, 900 million — Ozon. After the commissioning of the second stage, another 1,000 new jobs will be created.

Fivefold growth

The new Ozon hub is not only about fast delivery of goods. These are also new opportunities for local businesses. Now about 1,7 thousand entrepreneurs from Tatarstan are selling their products on the marketplace. Launching the logistics centre is a chance to enter the market even faster, saving on logistics. Besides, it will allow to scale the business, because the goods stored at the new facility are sold throughout the country and abroad.

As a rule, the presence of such an object in the region stimulates the development of the “last mile” infrastructure and delivery services. And this is also a new application of forces for businesses. Currently, the logistics infrastructure of Ozon in the region includes not only the fulfillment centre, but also five sorting centres and about 600 branded points of receipt of orders — pick-up points and postamates.

Business Ombudsman Farid Abdulganiev believes that the development of e-commerce can provide a powerful incentive for the development of small businesses.

“The opening of the Ozon logistics centre is a great support for Tatarstan entrepreneurs who choose a new channel for selling products. It will be possible to send its products to all regions of Russia from Zelenodolsk, Tatarstan. As of today, the goods of our entrepreneurs are already delivered to 77 regions of Russia. Over the past six months, small businesses have sold their products for 1,5 billion rubles. This amount is insignificant, but we see the dynamics of growth. By the end of the year, I think we will be able to observe completely different figures. In total, for 8 months of this year, our small businesses sold products worth 18,5 billion rubles through the five largest marketplaces. If we compare the number of entrepreneurs who entered Ozon for this and the previous year, the growth is five times. The figures speak for themselves.”

Bibs for adults and hijabs for doctors

Dalia Gaynanova, Larisa Voznesenskaya, and Elmira Yarullina are sellers who have recently appeared on Ozon. They produce clothes for children with special needs under the brand GT dress. Dalia knows what a problem it is to dress such a child firsthand — her own son has this diagnosis. For a long time, she adapted children's clothing from supermarkets as best she could, until she began to design it herself.

“We have a social project — we make clothes for the disabled. We started with children, because my son has a severe form of cerebral palsy. He is now 12 years old. As it grew, we faced a lot of problems. We formed a team, and that's how our brand was born," said Dalia Gaynanova.

The most popular thing is a breast scarf in the form of a bandana or scarf, with the help of which such a common problem among people with disabilities as salivation is solved. It doesn't look like a bib at all and looks like a fashion accessory. All the clothes are sewn in such a way that it is difficult to guess that she is “special”: it is functional and hides flaws.

The businesswomen are happy with the cooperation with Ozon, which began six months ago.

“We were provided with a personal manager, she taught us how to fill out cards, and the first cards are issued free of charge. Then we were trained, that is, for the first six months they led our project. We immediately had a good response — five points on Ozon. It is very profitable and convenient for our audience that there is no need to go somewhere for a parcel, stand in line with a child — besides, delivery to the door is free. After entering the marketplace, our production has doubled, we are happy to expand, purchase new equipment and are waiting for seamstresses to work," said Larisa Voznesenskaya.

Now businesswomen have mastered a new niche — they began to sew special bed linen.

Rimma and Rustam Kashapovs are engaged in the production of hats for Muslim women and more. They come up with models themselves and create such innovative things as hijabs with slots for headphones, glasses and masks. Hijabs for doctors are popular, which do not prevent them from fixing the phonendoscope, or hijabs for travellers. They are actively ordered by customers from abroad. Actually, Kashapovs started selling in Russia after they mastered trade with other countries.

“Our highlight is that we don't have our own warehouses, our own production — all the seamstresses are outsourced, we don't even have an office. But at the same time, we sell all over Russia and export our goods to the CIS countries, America and Canada. We sell 4-5 thousand units of goods a week. We entered Ozon in 2017, sales were small at first, and then people got used to buying online during the pandemic, and sales increased by up to 20%. Our products on Ozon are bestsellers," said Rimma Kashapova.

Rustem added that initially they sold their products through their own online store, but then they sold it, realising that it was more profitable to sell through marketplaces.

“We want to create a company that produces modern logistics solutions”

Alexander Shulgin, the director general of Ozon, came to the opening of the fulfillment centre. He gave an exclusive interview to Realnoe Vremya.

For almost a year, the Ozon logistics centre has been operating in test mode. Is it already possible to sum up the first results of its work?

The fulfillment centre allows entrepreneurs who are located in Tatarstan to place goods here and sell them throughout the country and even the world. Plus, a cross-dock service has been launched here, when a company can split its supply into several parts and place the goods all over the country — in Moscow, Rostov, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, anywhere. This allows you to organise a high speed of delivery to local customers — day to day or the next day, which is extremely important. In general, this allows people to concentrate on producing a high-quality product, and Ozon takes care of all the logistical difficulties and all the support.

According to the reviews of entrepreneurs, we have a fairly user-friendly interface, easy-to-manage products. The idea of Ozon is to make sure that companies can focus on what they know how to do well, on their brand, on their product. And then — you can combine various services, you can use something one-time, you can not use it, but according to the choice of people, we see that, as a rule, companies choose the full logistics service Ozon.

The idea of Ozon is to make sure that companies can focus on what they know how to do well, on their brand, on their product.

Is the fulfillment center in Tatarstan different from other similar facilities of your company?

We try to build standard facilities that allow us to manage them efficiently. Therefore, with the exception of the very large centre that is being built in Moscow, this is a typical format. But here we use automatic sorting — a machine that sorts 100,000 parcels every day, which allows us to work faster and more accurately.

We have recently created a robotics laboratory in Innopolis. There are 40 engineers working there. We test and develop advanced modern solutions for robotisation of logistics processes on the basis of this laboratory. Now they are quite time-consuming. Robotics is the future. We want to create a company that produces modern logistics solutions that would be of interest not only to Russian, but also to foreign enterprises.

How full is the fulfillment centre now?

I think that in the fourth quarter of this year it will be completely filled. Because the fourth quarter is usually the time of a surge in sales, so the second stage is needed.

What will she be like?

The next stage will be approximately the same in size, with a fairly dense, 6-storey storage, 7 million pieces of goods, an assortment of 400-500 thousand unique units of goods. Basically, it's like a very large shopping mall. I think that in Tatarstan we will not stop there. In the next 2 years, judging by the demand from entrepreneurs and buyers, logistics infrastructure facilities will still be introduced. We allow companies to use the model “from the Ozon shelf”, that is, from here or from their warehouse. We are developing not only such large logistics facilities, but also logistics infrastructure, which is distributed so as to be as close to people as possible: pick-up points, sorting centres, courier delivery. The idea is to build the most dense network so that a medium-sized entrepreneur, who is not even in a small town, but in a village, could, after receiving an order, take it from his shelf, take it to the pick-up point and deliver it to the buyer.

The next stage will be approximately the same in size, with a fairly dense, 6-storey storage, 7 million pieces of goods, an assortment of 400-500 thousand unique units of goods. Basically, it's like a very large shopping mall

How do you see the future of marketplaces, will they displace traditional trade?

They complement each other. Firstly, the line between electronic and offline trading is already blurring. But we, on the contrary, are happy to connect offline stores that become sellers on the Ozon showcase. Rather, we are complimentary to each other. After all, e-commerce, no matter how fast it is, has a waiting period. “A neighbourhood shop” is a purchase right now. I think there will be a symbiosis. And we are glad to have offline partners-stores that use our marketplace to sell to the whole country.

Eleonora Rylova