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The development potential that the e-commerce segment continues to have in the region also creates opportunities for other areas with related services.
“The pandemic has led to the growth of the online industry, both in Romania and internationally. However, our online market has not yet reached the saturation level of Western Europe, there is still a long way to go”, points out the context Rareș Bănescu, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of the company Retargeting Biz, which develops an automated marketing platform dedicated to this segment. With the need due to the pandemic for all companies that have physical stores to open stores online as well, but also with the launch of new names, the local digital trade market passed six billion euros last year, with the prospect of average increases of 10 -15% in subsequent years as well.
“In addition to local merchants, many foreign merchants also entered Romania, which intensified the competition. There is also a strong trend of Romanian online stores expanding their business outside the borders, especially in countries close to us”, continues the entrepreneur, Retargeting Biz being already present in the region in Bulgaria, Hungary and Greece. In fact, it is precisely this last aspect that leads Rareș Bănescu to increase the presence of his company in other foreign markets as well, in parallel with attracting clients from the category of “very large” companies.
With a growth of 13% at the European level in 2021, up to 718 billion euros, e-commerce has become even more strongly anchored in the economy, after during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic it represented for many people the main source of supply. At least that’s what the latest report on this field, published recently by Ecommerce Europe, a European organization representing the retail and wholesale sector, shows. In Romania, the turnover of e-commerce was assessed at 6.2 billion euros in 2021, an increase of 11% compared to 2020, and for the current year it is expected to increase by 13%, up to about 7 billion Of euro. “Thus, the sales made in Romania last year represented almost half of the total made in Eastern Europe, estimated at 14 billion euros”, it emerges from the same report.
“Romania is an e-commerce hub in the region. In these days marked by fuel price hikes and high inflation, e-commerce is once again coming up with a host of services that help people save money and navigate this uncertain context more easily. The main players in the market have made significant investments in recent years to increase their processing capacity and delivery speed”, says Florinel Chiș, executive director of the Romanian Association of Online Stores, a member of Ecommerce Europe. The entrepreneur Rareș Bănescu is also talking about investments today. “We are still prospecting other markets, but we will leave the decision to open these markets for the end of the year. Currently, as in previous years, we have more than 50% of customers from Romania, 25% from Greece, 15% from Bulgaria, 10% from Hungary and other countries”, says the entrepreneur, adding that he is interested in both European countries, such as Italy and Spain, as well as countries outside Europe with great potential for online commerce. According to his words, the investment in a new market differs depending on the degree of maturity of the respective market, but also on the expansion model for which he opts – with a local team or by coordinating the activity from a distance. Depending on the model chosen, the investment can mean several tens of thousands or several hundreds of thousands of euros.
To help those who want to optimize their sales, Retargeting Biz launched three months ago an offer through which online stores can send their customers 600,000 personalized newsletters for free, over a period of six months. With a proven increase in conversion rates by up to 30%, according to studies, personalized newsletters, which are based on artificial intelligence, have hundreds of templates adapted to all types of businesses.
In other words, after two years of the pandemic that propelled the e-commerce sector into an increasingly digitized world, any profile store should find the right marketing tools to bring them higher sales.
An important stage in the maturation of the company Retargeting Biz was the investment of three million euros last fall, when it launched the new all-in-one automated marketing platform for the local and international market. “What we did was follow the market trends. The current product meets practically all the needs of an online store, both small and medium-sized, as well as large and very large. The platform brings together all relevant marketing channels for an online store, from automated ads in Google, Facebook, Instagram, to push notifications, pop-ups, SMS, dynamic recommendations and a dynamic newsletter with personalized content.”
Retargeting Biz also focused this year on the “increasing shift from small and medium-sized customers to medium-large and very large customers with services based on artificial intelligence”. The company has between 700 and 1,000 customers annually, currently targeting online stores with at least 20,000 visits per month, because in order to function optimally and really help customers, the solution needs as much data as possible so that the algorithm can perform.
For the turnover in 2022, Rareș Bănescu’s forecasts from the beginning of the year, which did not take into account the political instability in the area nor the associated uncertainties, were of a 30% increase compared to the approximately two million euros in 2021. Fortunately, we are not part of an industry where the effects are extremely high. We are feeling the effects through our customers, especially the smaller ones, who have been affected by both the energy crisis and the uncertain political situation in the first part of the year. (…) Nevertheless, we managed to stay very close to the estimated figures”, notes Rareș Bănescu.
“In the last two years, retailers have gained a lot of experience in digitalization. In 2022, Europe has unfortunately become the scene of a major conflict. Although still difficult to assess, the war in Ukraine will have major consequences on the European economy, as well as on the e-commerce markets”, Luca Cassetti, the general secretary of Ecommerce Europe, also detailed the context, on the occasion of the launch of the already mentioned report on the profile market.
Rareș Bănescu started the Retargeting Biz business in 2012 (at a time when online stores had also started to develop at a rapid pace), but until the actual implementation of the software solution, another year passed.
After another year of presence on the market, he managed to attract a first investor, in the person of businessman Mugur Frunzetti, the founder of Floria.ro, who invested 500,000 euros for the development of the platform, thus becoming a shareholder with a 30% stake in company. In the meantime, Frunzetti sold his shares, in the current shareholding structure Rareș Bănescu is the majority shareholder.
In a previous discussion with ., the entrepreneur said that this venture came about as a result of a personal need from the time when he himself worked in e-commerce and wanted to communicate with each user in a personalized way, depending on their actions.