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What are Dark stores?

A dark store is a combination of retail and eCommerce, which follows a direct to customer business model. The stores offer excellent customer experience with features like same-day delivery, last-mile delivery or in-store pickups. Besides being open to open to end customers, people can also purchase through websites or mobile apps and get the product delivered at their doorsteps.

One of the most important factors in dark stores is the warehouses and their location, along with a robust IT system and logistics. The large warehouse established on the city outskirts at a strategic location caters, especially to online shopping. The warehouse stores, sorts, and manages the orders to facilitate quick delivery and easier automation. Dark stores work upon the concept of high profits and reduced cart abandonment rates. Let’s take a look at one of the largest retailers as well as dark store, TESCO, which has the best consumer retention and acquisition.

Company Profile – Tesco

Trading as Tesco, Tesco plc is a British based internationally operating grocer and general merchandise founded in 1919 by Jack Cohen. The business is headquartered in Hertfordshire, UK. It has been leading the grocery market for several successive years. The products that they sell include groceries such as food and beverages, home appliances and clothing.

Tesco has an exciting business history in the United Kingdom and abroad. Over the years, the grocery giant has achieved continued success by remaining at the forefront of retail trends, including everything from self-service shopping to international expansion. Tesco has recently made its mark with successful dark stores and an online grocery strategy that facilitates a seamless shopping experience. There’s a lot that can be learned from Tesco’s efforts.

Impressive Statistics of Tesco

Tesco is the 3rd largest retailer in the world as per its gross revenues and the 9th largest in the world measured by revenues.

The company runs roughly 7000 stores in almost 12 countries and generated a revenue of almost 57 billion British pounds in the 2020/21 financial year. This was an overall increase of one billion pounds compared to the prior fiscal year.

Coronavirus pandemic led to an increase in the sales value, which went up by about 7.2 per cent by the end of April 19, 2020. As of March 21, 2021, Tesco had increased its sales by almost 8.5 per cent.

When it comes to the grocery market of Great Britain, the company alone has a market share of about 27 per cent as of 2021.

In 2021, Tesco employed 420,000 employees worldwide. Most of these people are working either in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland. Tesco’s stores in Europe can be found in Hungary, Czechia, Poland and Slovakia.

How did Tesco Dark Stores become so Successful?

The success of Tesco Dark Stores is not a matter of luck. A variety of factors played an important role in its success. The retailer has a great history of utilising cutting-edge methods to establish itself apart from the competition. Much of its present success, though, is because of its perception as an affordable and convenient chain.

Tesco emphasizes customer-oriented practices to make the shopping experience seamless, smooth and customer friendly as much as possible both in stores and on the digital platform. This simplistic yet powerful strategy has always ensured that Tesco remains a retailer at the forefront of the grocery industry even in years to come. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors responsible for its success:

Customer Service

Tesco has always been customer-oriented and its long-term emphasis on customer service can be seen in both its offline as well as digital stores. Tesco exercises a multitude of initiatives to keep its customers happy. Customer-oriented product classification, customer loyalty such as club cards, store design, understanding the needs of customers and giving them what they will value, all is kept in mind by Tesco. Both the physical stores as well as the website use an intuitive layout to ensure that consumers can quickly access the products and services they desire! All these features provided by Tesco give them an upper edge over their competitors.

Diversified Product Classification

Tesco is well known as a leading grocery chain but the giant retailer also offers an array of other products and services. The aim is to serve the customers convenience and quality on a single platform. One can expect to find a collection of products such as dry and frozen products along with toiletries, household products and even pet products. A diverse collection of products can be found in Tesco dark stores.

Effective and smooth logistics

The success of dark stores is not possible without an effective logistics and supply chain strategy. Tesco seeks to maintain strong relationships with suppliers and also opt for an efficient route system to ensure that time-sensitive products are shipped at the store at the right time and are delivered to the customers at their doorstep within the right time. The right monitoring of time helps in both profit margin as well as customer satisfaction. Tesco’s digital customers appreciate their tight supply chain and inventory management. When the items are ordered online, they know that the products will be in stock and the items delivered will be fresh or of exceptional quality.

Insane International Expansion

Tesco dark stores locations are not just limited to the UK; it is an international brand with a sustainable business model in Eastern Europe and Thailand. Tesco has designed its global eCommerce platform around a diverse consumer base. Their websites are designed according to the country with text provided in both English as well as the region’s native language.

Excellent eCommerce website

The website of any dark store speaks about its commitment to value and convenience. In the case of Tesco, from the logo to the layout and images, everything reflects the brand and its commitment. The website is easy to navigate and has visually appealing displays with a variety of filters making the website visits as efficient as the physical stores by Tesco. Tesco`s website may not be that fancy, but it gets the job done right. Overall, Tesco’s website stands out in today’s competitive digital marketplace.

Interesting Technologies

The reason behind Tesco’s dark store success is that they have used the right kind of technology and software. For instance, Tesco uses Omniture Site Catalyst for web analytics and Hotjar for screen recording and heatmap tools. They use software that does an admirable job of customer feedback and review collection on every aspect of Tesco’s website. All these technological functionalities allow Tesco dark stores to maintain and customise their website based on their customer’s experiences.

Why choose YRC to Set up Dark Stores?

Your Retail Coach (YRC) has years of in-hand experience in helping various retail brands to come up with a successful dark store. Be it layout planning, SOPs, technical aspects, SEO, digital marketing, website and its maintenance, YRC is there to guide you at every step. When it comes to customer retention and acquisition or IT related or logistics, we have the best team of consultants to assist you. We aim towards bringing consistency to your business so that you can offer a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience to your customers. Contact YRC today and if you want to see your dark store business flourishing.


The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.


No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

Photography includes the following steps:

  • Cataloguing your products
  • Cataloguing your images
  • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
  • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)


Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.


Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.


  • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
  • Where should your Warehouse be located?
  • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
  • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
  • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
  • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
  • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
  • How much space do I require for warehouse?
  • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.


At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.


This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

Part 2: UX Designing:

“UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

“As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

Part 3: UI Designing:

UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!


This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.


Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

  • In-house Design Team
  • Freelance Designers
  • Outsourced Design Team
  • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.


Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

It is an integral part to attract the target audience.


Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.


Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.


Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.


Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.