Máquina de Vendas — a holding company that includes the brands Ricardo Eletro, Insinuante and City Lar — is the second largest retailer of home appliances and furniture in Brazil. In 2010, the firm invested some R$10 million in marketing and grew 300%. The company finally began selling books on May 11 on their website. With 750 stores in 24 states and the Federal District, it employs more than 20,000 people and generates revenue of R$6.2 billion. So why would they be interested in selling books? Cristiane Carvalho, manager of the books channel, explained: “We are reaching out to those areas lacking large bookstores. Since our brands are consolidated in these regions, we felt that entering this segment was a good opportunity.”
Initially, the company is offering 15,000 print titles through its various Web sites. The book sales operation is being run entirely in-house and the company is already well positioned, with 18 distribution centers throughout Brazil, to add books to their physical stores, a plan that it under consideration.
In all liklihood, e-books will come next. “We know that e-books sales represent very little in book sales in Brazil today, but we know we should not be left out,” said Carvalho. “We must be prepared for a change in consumer behavior.” One e-reader, the Positive Alfa, is already offered for sale in the chain’s stores.
The move into books isn’t entirely unexpected and Máquina de Vendas was all but forced to enter the book market following moves by its competitors, who may still be one step ahead. In September last year, Ponto Frio and Extra — two major retailers that were already selling books, began selling e-books. Then in December, Casas Bahia, another popular retailer, added e-books as well.