Cleveron’s products can be found all over the world – in 47 countries, to be exact. But which city houses the most robots? Marge Taivere, Regional Manager of Latin America, knows the answer to that question. Having worked at Cleveron for a little over four years, she has been there for the entire process of building up our Latin American market. Cleveron celebrates its 15th anniversary in July 2022 and to commemorate the occasion, we asked Marge to give an insight into the Latin American market.
Pivotal Times and Events
Marge joined Cleveron just before the “Pilot 40” project was started with the goal of launching pilots with the TOP 40 retailers in the world. “I joined Cleveron as a Key Account Manager and at the same time “Pilot 40” began. Today, I can say that we had pilots with nearly every one of these companies. Not all projects were the right fit and with today’s knowledge, we wouldn’t have gone through with some of them. But at the time it was all very new, exciting, and full of opportunities,” Marge describes her first year at Cleveron.
If the aforementioned goal sounded crazy, the everyday job of the Key Account Manager was just as crazy when they traveled across the globe to meet with clients. It was 2019 when nobody could have imagined the looming pandemic and that in just a short time, it wouldn’t even be possible to travel. “I remember how I came back from a two-day trip from New Zealand, was home for three days and then flew to Chile, where I also spent three days. It was an insane time. That year, I had over 100 work-related flights,” says Marge. She enjoyed 2020 much more because it didn’t involve quite as much travel. Today, she visits her region once a year and spends multiple weeks there.
But how was Cleveron’s Latin American market established and how did we get its leading retailer, Falabella, on board? During “Pilot 40”, Falabella’s representative reached out to us, looking for opportunities to hand over parcels to customers more efficiently. “They were determined and wanted our technology. We invited them to Estonia so we could meet them face-to-face and demonstrate our products. And they came!” Marge describes colorfully, how Falabella’s representatives came from sunny Chile to Estonia in January when it’s notoriously cold, dark, and wet. “It was immediately clear that they know their field and it is still apparent today that they truly care about efficiency and excellent customer service. Our products are an investment for companies and you could say that the success of such projects also depends on the support they have within the company.”
“It was immediately clear that they know their field and it is still apparent today that they truly care about efficiency and excellent customer service. Our products are an investment for companies and you could say that the success of such projects also depends on the support they have within the company.”
Large corporations like Falabella usually have an Innovation Leader, whose job is to look for new technologies to streamline processes and improve the customer experience. They often travel the world to pinpoint the bottlenecks of other retailers and see how they have solved them. Falabella’s Innovation Leaders were up to speed on the Cleveron 402 parcel robot in Zara’s Stratford store and they went to see how it worked in real life. “That day they sat there for two hours and nobody used the machine! But someone must have used it to pick up their parcel because they liked our solution. I remember the wow-effect we could provide during their visit to Estonia because we could further demonstrate and introduce the advantages of our products.”
The Advanced E-Commerce of Latin America
The potential of e-commerce was recognized much sooner in Latin America than in Europe and it has been continuously developed. “There are three major retail chains in Latin America. They have developed their e-commerce offerings and parcel handover for a decade, compared to Europe’s five years. Since they didn’t have home delivery services as we do, they had built a system of handing out online-ordered parcels in-store. They saw major gains in having people coming to pick up their order in-store, as customers are likely to make additional purchases while picking up their package. They really pinpointed that niche,” says Marge.
What problem did Falabella face? Even though they had developed a system for handing over parcels, it was costly: it was time-consuming for both employees and customers, there were many people working at the service counter and the system needed a lot of storage space. During her first visit to Chile, Marge was surprised when she saw the operation: “I had never seen anything like it! The space looked like a movie theatre hall. On one side of the room, there were associates and across from them, a large hall with about a couple of hundred chairs with people waiting for their turn to pick up their orders. That’s how a customer could spend quite a long time waiting on-site. Additionally, there were a lot of people working in the warehouse because it was massive. The larger you make the warehouse, the more you take away retail space and that’s not what any retailer wants. In that case, the store becomes a post office,” describes Marge. “Here’s where Cleveron’s parcel robots help to offer an efficient last-mile delivery – the customer gets their package from the robot in seconds and orders are optimally placed into the robot. Talking to Falabella, it was clear that their customers were accustomed to picking up orders in-store, they had developed their e-store offerings for eight years and it was their main sales channel. At that time, they handed out nearly 2000 packages in one location. Today, Cleveron’s robots are making their contribution to help manage 5000-6000 parcels every day in the largest stores – it’s an absolutely unfathomable amount of packages.” Now, Falabella has nearly 40 machines in shopping centers in three different countries, and some stores even house two Cleveron robots. The largest machines are nearly 14 meters wide.
“At that time, they handed out nearly 2000 packages in one location. Today, Cleveron’s robots are making their contribution to help manage 5000-6000 parcels every day in the largest stores – it’s an absolutely unfathomable amount of packages.”
A New Culture and Client Segment
“The main goal of Falabella that they also bring forth in their presentations is to be the largest retailer both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. They truly make an effort for that. When we started our partnership, they took a big risk because we hadn’t entered the market yet and we didn’t have a maintenance partner.” But Falabella saw that Cleveron’s solutions could help them reach their goal. Marge recounts a funny story of how Falabella’s representatives came to Estonia in July of 2019 and they were introduced to the local culture, complete with sauna and smoked eel. “I had told them before that the sauna is heated up to 100-115 degrees (212-239 °F). And they didn’t believe me! Every time they met a new person at our head offices, they asked them if it was actually possible to be in a room as hot as the water boiling point” says Marge.
“I had told them before that the sauna is heated up to 100-115 degrees. And they didn’t believe me! Every time they met a new person at our head offices, they asked them if it was actually possible to be in a room as hot as the water boiling point.”
Marge values the directness, punctuality, and solution-oriented mindset of Latin American clients and cooperation partners. She can’t remember a time when anyone was late for a meeting. "It’s difficult to say how many clients we have over there exactly. In 2020, we added distributors to our sales model and Vigatec is our partner on-site. Latin America is definitely a region, where it’s difficult to sell directly. We have a time difference and a language barrier. The pandemic didn’t help since we couldn’t train people, or install machines and projects had a lag. Sales on-site is spearheaded by a distributor and the cooperation is going well,” explains Marge.
In the office, you can hear Marge talking to someone in Spanish from time to time. She learned the language just two years ago. “You can say learning Spanish was my pandemic project. It started in October of 2019, when I was trapped in Santiago, Chile in the midst of mass unrest. Within a day, there were tanks and fires on the streets. I was trapped in the airport. With the help of local cooperation partners, I finally got to a hotel but at that moment I vowed to never go back. Since I didn’t know the language, I lost all sense of safety. But the personal support from Chilean business partners pushed me to keep going. That’s why I decided to learn Spanish,” describes Marge. Today, she speaks Spanish freely. “And it’s unbelievable that just four months later we went over there with the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, who visited our client during her trip to South America.”
“You can say learning Spanish was my pandemic project. It started in October of 2019, when I was trapped in Santiago, Chile in the midst of mass unrest. Within a day, there were tanks and fires on the streets.”
What has kept Marge in Cleveron for so long? “I have gotten to manage my region during a period of fast growth. The second reason is freedom – I can decide for myself and be in Chile for six weeks if I need to,” explains Marge. “There have also been many changes in Cleveron, which have made life much more interesting,” says Marge. But coming back to the question, which city houses the most parcel robots? “Santiago takes first place and the second is probably Lima,” says Marge.
Cleveron celebrated its 15th birthday on 25 July.