Radoje Krajisnik, dm Srbija – How we carried out the project that brought Serbian producers to dm drogerie stores
Radoje Krajisnik (Photo: PROMO)
The company dm drogerie markt, in addition to being recognized as one of the most popular employers in Serbia, actively contributes to the development of the local economy. Through its project dm incubator, this drugstore chain provided a unique opportunity to local entrepreneurs to put their products on the market. Thanks to this initiative, the company received a range of acknowledgment awards from the expert community, the latest of which is the Special Award for the Most Innovative Project at the VIRTUS Philanthropy Awards. We talked to Radoje Krajisnik, project coordinator and purchasing manager at dm Srbija.
Two years ago, dm launched the dm Incubator project. A year later, there are 57 products made in Serbia on the shelves of your drugstores. What has the development of this project looked like?
– This truly unique project in Serbia was launched in 2018 with the aim of providing small and medium producers to make their products available in the market through our drugstore chain. As many as 704 products had been applied, and 18 producers got the opportunity to develop and then put 57 products on the market. In addition to those launched initially, in the past nine months, dm Incubator has brought another 15 products to the shelves of dm drogerie stores.
Indeed, thanks to this project, local entrepreneurs have been provided with possibilities that are not easily available to them under regular conditions, considering that equal market entry conditions are provided for them and that they have received all-encompassing support from experts from various areas. Practical lectures, workshops, work with mentors and professionals from the fields of food, cosmetology, assortment, design and marketing, have enabled producers from various areas of Serbia to acquire the knowledge and skills thanks to which they have upgraded not just their products, but also their overall business operations. At the end of the whole process, the clients are able to pick local quality products which carry with them a trace of our country's nature.
The project dm Incubator has turned out to be a good business model that can stimulate the development of the local economy. What was the main motivation for launching the project and what is the key to its success?
– We have been guided by the idea that local products can definitely stand shoulder to shoulder with world brands, which we have finally proved by developing, with producers, top quality product lines in the segments of food and care and beauty. Our country is rich with not just resources, but also talented entrepreneurs, who have remarkable ideas and products, but, unfortunately, often don't have sufficient capacities to enter the big market. It often happens that they export their products, because, for example, they can't sell their organic products in their own country. Due to this, we have decided to act as a channel for them through which they can reach new clients. By joining forces, we have upgraded and developed top quality products.
This project is an excellent example of cooperation between a large store chain, state institutions and top quality experts. We launched dm Incubator in cooperation with our partners, the USAID Competitive Economy Project, the Development Agency of Serbia, the National Association for the Development of Organic Production Serbia Organica and the Faculty of Applied Arts.
We are also happy that the business community has recognized our initiative to contribute to improving our economy and society. In addition to the VIRTUS Award for the Most Innovative Project that we received recently, dm drogerie markt has also won two prestigious awards for the dm Incubator project – the National Award of the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia for Corporate Responsibility “Djordje Vajfert” and the Recognition for the Development of Local Entrepreneurship, awarded by the Serbian Association of Managers.
Producers within dm Incubator and Radoje Krajisnik, project coordinator and purchasing manager at dm Srbija (Photo: PROMO)
What are the customers' reactions when it comes to purchasing products from within the dm Incubator? Do they have a habit of choosing local products?
– Since the project began, there have been very positive reactions from our customers. A confirmation that we are doing things the right way is the fact that, in the first year since the launching, over 82,000 dm Incubator products were sold within dm drogerie stores. The customers recognize and support our initiatives which are directed at improving life in the environment we operate in. The same goes for our efforts to educate the wider community when it comes to buying products of local origin.
Our orientation toward local products is especially important for the growth of our economy. Entrepreneurs from Serbia should especially be supported as gratitude to their support which was of vital importance for the stability of store chains during the state of emergency, when many other countries, unlike ours, experienced longer periods of unavailability of many products and goods.
At first sight, we notice that the offer of dm Incubator features truly unique products with characteristic ingredients. What makes them special?
– That's right. Through this project, among other things, we strove to offer innovative products to customers, in attractive packaging. The thread that runs through all of them is nature, considering that they are made of ingredients which benefit your body and organism.
For example, in the food segment, there are pure juices coming from the Dolovac family brand, which are made without added water, sugar or additives and come in entirely natural colors. They can be consumed diluted with water or mixed with some other fruit juice. Then there are the fully natural honey spreads Veverko, mixes of organic dried mushrooms Taste of the West and many others. In the beauty and care segment, specific products have been developed, such as Olydrop, a massage oil for sensitive gums, Coquette natural liquid blushers in a tube, My Way natural solid body lotions, innovative Zoya facial cosmetics products, Biona products based on green caviar and moss and many others.
Another thing that connects them all are affordable prices, thanks to which an average customer can afford exclusive quality.
What are dm's plans when it comes to the further development of the dm Incubator project?
– After the very successful first phase of the project, we continue supporting local producers through sales and marketing activities, but also through hiring technologists for the further improvement of their operating processes and production facilities, and we are also working with them on designing new products. We also cooperate closely with the USAID Project and the Development Agency of Serbia when it comes to various forms of financial and mentoring support for the purpose of the upgrade and long-term sustainability of their operations.
As someone who has been in contact with our producers for over two years, I am happy that I can share their satisfaction and successes and I am also glad for the joint projects which are yet to come.
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