Don’t waste good money on Greek retail – part 1, the stats

From afar, it probably seems like a mystery.  Greece has no money.  So why are so many tech items still selling well?  It isn’t easy to get a handle on the market as it feels pretty third worldly most of the time.

For starters you need to recognize that there aren’t very good stats for most things.  I can cite several phone calls received from influential trade magazines looking for numbers.  They pretty much take whatever you feed them and have few reference points to know if you are making it up or not.  Often the results are ludicrous.   And they dress it up in wishy washy language or vague charts rather than admitting that “based on brief chats with two people I got on the phone from Greece….”

Others try and make assumptions or extrapolations based on official figures or trade associations’ statistics.  The former are very sketchy as we have parallel imports galore and many other factors distorting the numbers.  Trade associations in Greece are generally weak, not very active and not very high tech or online.  If you do get any numbers they will probably be out of date and refer only to a few larger companies.  Government agencies are even worse.

Greeks are generally secretive and don’t give away business information.  To make things worse often the IT infrastructure is spread over many different databases and software.  Many systems might not be online, relying on import/export procedures of various sorts.  So it’s not just that they don’t want to give anyone good figures about their sales;  it’s that even they don’t really know what is going on in their sales!

A good example is store traffic data.  This is absolutely essential for planning any retail promotion and guess what?  Almost no Greek company has decent figures.  Most now have some sort of technology installed to monitor visitor numbers but they are plagued with distortions.  Some stores have multiple entrances and exits making it hard to calculate, others have cafe or restaurants within their premises making it impossible to know how many people shopped and how many just ate and left.  Sure, over time, these glitches should straighten out and give a more complete picture; if you combine them with that other data.  Which you don’t have!

So all these fancy promotion ideas you have, well, just bear in mind that you need a rather big pinch of salt in order to implement them.  Get a feel first hand before you OK any spending. A major problem is that most “chains of stores” that Greek tech retailers say they have are in fact rather unbalanced affairs.  But more on that in part 2…


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