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RateNow interviews retail leader Supermercados Condis

Find out how they improved the experience of their customers both online and offline

Condis, with more than 50 years of history, is one of the pioneer companies in the food retail industry in Catalonia, with a significant presence also in the Community of Madrid, Central Spain and Andorra. The Condal-Escudé brothers opened their first supermarket in 1980 with the brand Condal Alimentación and in 1992 they created the now well-established brand Condis.

Today we interview the Head of the Digitizal department, Javier Condal, to get some insights on how they adopted technology to respond to the evolving needs of such a dynamic industry and to improve the customer experience through an omnichannel service.

Condis started with a small shop in the "Mercè Market" of Barcelona in the 60s. Almost 60 years later, what would you say are the objectives and the vision of Condis?

The main objective of Condis is to offer a service to our customers in a very "local" fashion. According to our vision, supermarkets have to be focused on proximity to the customers, this approach differentiates us from our competitors, especially those whose stores are not located outside the centre of the town. We place our supermarkets next to the church or downtown because we like to be part of the community where we settle and to be close to the people who can walk to our stores. Proximity is a key element of our vision, cultivated and implemented for many years and that we want to keep alive.

Condis is currently a giant in the fast moving consumer goods industry, how many stores do you have throughout Spain?

Condis currently has more than 543 points of sale, distributed between Catalonia, Community of Madrid, Central Spain and Andorra, summing up to total sales surface of over 200,000 square meter. This figure includes both Company owned and franchise stores. I take the opportunity to mention that Condis is one of the national leading companies in terms of turnover among the franchise stores.

What makes you different from the rest of supermarket and hypermarket chains?

Apart from proximity to customer, it's all about the treatment of fresh products. When Condis started more than 60 years ago, stores were simple delis and the treatment of the product was direct. That essence has been kept intact so far.The area of fresh food has much more relevance and a special presence compared to that of dry items. The differentiator is the treatment of fresh food, which also determines a recurring purchase behavior. Currently, customers visit Condis stores 2.5 times per week which gives us a relevant role of people routine.

"Condis was a pioneer in offering an online grocery service in Spain, since it launched the first ecommerce of the industry. […] "Condisline" was the result of Condis' desire to offer better alternatives to different consumer profiles and of company's commitment to a multichannel service"

When did you register your first online sales?

Condis launched the first online grocery store in the year 2000. Since then, we have been expanding our online presence even in the areas where we have brick and mortar stores, in order to offer a wider range of services according to the evolution of consumer needs.

Condisline was the result of Condis' desire to offer better alternatives to different consumer profiles and of company's commitment to a multichannel service. Condisline has been online since 2000. Currently, it covers Catalonia and Madrid aiming to integrate our offer in those areas where we already have brick and mortar stores.

Do you sell all kinds of products online?

Yes. We sell everything you can find in a physical store, same products, same assortments and same price. Only some special offers might be online and not in the physical stores, due to the peculiarity of the channel.

The average online spending is high, about 124 Euros, very similar to hypermarket standards. In Condisline we are happy about that and we seek to enhance the relevance of fresh items as they incentivate frequent purchases and a sense of proximity assimilating the online experience to our brick and mortar stores. The peculiarity of our way of treating fresh products lies in the fact that they are not prepared in store but in a separate preparation center. It's not only a fresh product, but also a product that has not been "touched". Once an order is submitted online, it is processed the next day directly from Mercabarna and without any manipulation that you might find in other grocery stores. Products are delivered straight to the final consumer.

Condis has a website since 1999. In 2000, it launched its Condisline ecommerce webpage. Since then, Condis has been updating it in order to adapt to the evolving needs of consumers. In 2016 there was a complete renovation of the Condisline website to make it more qualitative, agile and intuitive, according to the new times and new needs. This renewal had a direct impact on the number of visits that, in a few weeks, doubled compared to those obtained by the previous version. Six months later, to respond to the strong growth of online shopping and facilitate the access to users, a mobile version, compatible with any smartphone, was released.

Additionally, Condis started an ambitious project 2 years ago with the objective of unifying the entire loyalty management process, since we currently do not have a loyalty card. The project consists of a new registration app, which will allow us to start collecting customer data. However, it's main objective is not to act as a typical loyalty card; neither grants it benefits to customers who buy more. The ultimate goal is to reward all customers equally. You can either make a weekly purchase of 50 Euro or one of 120 Euro, in both cases you'll get the same benefits. It will be a service app; obviously it will offer discounts and coupons but the amount will not depend on your expense level. There will also be personalized services based on your shopping lists and a live chat with the store itself...

Among the improvements of the web and the app, I'd say the most relevant were the inclusion of a predictive search engine, filters to help locate the products, the possibility of sharing product data sheets through social networks and the “Customer Space”, which allows access to the purchase history and offers advantages such as discounts for large families or for coeliacs and flat shipping rates.

In addition, through this new app customers will also be able to place orders and decide whether to receive them directly at home or to pick them up at the store, hence joining the online worlds with the offline one. With the first launch of the app our intention is to convert the offline client into one more online customer

"In the end we want technology to be at the service of the client, not at the service of the company. It makes no sense if it only serves us, it would be to some extent selfish. We want technology to have an added value in the customer experience, but without forgetting the human factor that allows us to give a feeling of proximity and closeness"

Would you say that technology can improve the customer shopping experience?

We have been transforming our systems for two years to adapt to the new needs of the consumer: we have changed our CRM, which in turn changed completely the way we contact the client regarding. We have almost 90 digital in-store displays, we are also implementing the electronic label for immediate price changes and we have placed digital tablets so that children can entertain themselves in the supermarket.

We also started to work with RateNow to achieve a detailed valuation of customer satisfaction in each of the point of sale. With so much information available we want to unify the data and create an optimal level for the customer in terms of shopping experience thanks to technology.

In the end we want technology to be at the service of the client, not at the service of the company. It makes no sense if it only serves us, it would be to some extent selfish. We want technology to have an added value in the customer experience, but without forgetting the human factor that allows us to give a feeling of proximity and closeness.

Approximately, how many customers go to your grocery stores? And how many visitors go to the online store?

As for brick and mortar stores, we cannot track exactly how many customers visit us because we do not have loyalty cards to track their visits; however, we register on average 700 purchases per store per day. Obviously there better and worse performing stores; on Saturdays there are more purchases and on Mondays generally less. Online we receive about 4,500 orders per month. On Condisline customers tend to purchase with a higher average ticket and also more frequently.

"It is not only about what you sell but also how you sell it and the treatment you give to the customer when they visit you. For us, the human touch is an essential factor for the shopping experience"

What elements of the sales process are important to make sure that the customer purchases your products and leaves the store satisfied?

The single most important element is the customer service: how the staff behaves, if they say hallo or even the customer name make a whole lot of difference. As I said before the purchase frequency is high and there are customers who come 2 or 3 times a week. The courtesy of the staff is what really makes us different. At the end of the day a product, especially if it's a dry item, is the same either in Condis or in another grocery store.

It is not much about what you sell but how you sell and the customer service you provide. For us, the human touch is an essential element of the shopping experience. Additionally, you can also look for mechanisms to make the purchase process more fluid: for instance, we didn't have self check-in boxes, we do have them nos. We provide wifi in all of our stores. Technology helps to improve the experience, although, I insist, the most relevant factor for a purchase to be totally satisfactory is the human touch of the staff.

How important is it for you to know and measure the satisfaction of your customers? Why did you decide to implement RateNow into your stores?

We had periodically conducted surveys but not on an ongoing basis. We have been changing technology for two years to get closer to the customer. With RateNow we saw the possibility of collecting feedback on a continuous basis in our stores and being able to analyze data in real time. We didn't think even twice about implementing such technology, we tried it and we liked it. The idea of knowing how the level of satisfaction of a store fluctuates, and on an ongoing basis, is very important. Sometimes when you do a survey once or twice a year, by the time you review the data you have already missed many opportunities, you realize that if you had such information earlier you would have already made changes and maybe recovered some customers without waiting so long.

Have you already made any changes based on comments received through RateNow satisfaction surveys?

Truth is we are very satisfied with the results we are getting with RateNow. We identified stores with better levels of customer satisfaction compared to others. RateNow is also useful to helps us motivate our employees to offer a better customer service. It allows us to see the evolution of our performance and how our actions impact the customer satisfaction

How do you see both the fast moving consumer goods industry and Condis in the coming 10 years? What are the strategic long-term projects you would like to carry out?

The food industry can change a lot in 10 years and can be highly influenced by digitization. We are all doing our best to adapt quickly to changes through online stores, but obviously this channel implies high distribution costs that the financial margins of fast moving consumer goods industry cannot bear. The "5.0 shopper" everyone is talking about will be consider new values, they will take informed decisiones, continuously compare between different alternatives and you maybe they start shopping online but finish the purchase in the physical store. We have to be prepared to respond quickly to those needs. Newer generations have different objectives: while some sought the security of the products or social recognition, new consumers will seek happiness. The values are changing but at the end of the day they will all lead to the same key point: customer satisfaction. Let your customers leave the store happy or with a memorable shopping experience, that's what they value. To this objetice it is necessary to make sure the store has a cozy atmosphere and provide a high quality service to the customer thorugh all channels.

To read more and learn about the evoution and the work of our customers and how they managed to improve their customer experience, visit our blog!

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