1- Hello Alex, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I had a background in the automotive industry and in the financial services field business before starting Mediterranea journey together with Fabrizio, Sara & Enrica. From the beginning, we always believed that a company should be customer-centric and customer-obsessed.
As we moved into this journey in 2019, we learned there were other models and found it incomprehensible that there’re quite a lot of e-companies that had ever met a client.
So, as a result, a lot of companies were only promoting the products they wanted to buy. It made us question the process: ‘How can they promote great products if they don’t ask customers?
2- Please describe MediterraneaStore in a few words.
Mediterranea Store (www.mediterraneastore.com) is first and foremost a service provider company, a food & grocery network that interacts with customers and providers bringing a nice niche of mediterranean grocery to the market. It’s like a little marketplace where we select one by one all the products and providers we work with.
We help grocery artisans growing their business online, building their e-brand, increasing retention and lifetime value for their products…and they help us by providing their warehouse and logistic support.
3- Tell us more about how you came up with MediterraneaStore?
One day while I and Fabrizio were having a coffee we observed a problem that a lot of physical and online grocery stores face, and is that they end up working on the same mass-generic or semi-niche food products. Namely, that it was very tough to find the right artisan product online. And that’s why we start our journey with Mediterranea Store.
Then we found a digital solution that enabled us to build real relationships with our customers and our providers, hear what they thought about our idea, and ultimately, help us grow.
We thought some grocery e-commerces needed to radically rethink the way they built long-term customer relationships by providing something different (in terms of service and products) and retained revenue, and the rest is history.
4- How do you do things differently from your competitors?
We try to build a vision of what we would like the customer experience to be, in terms of niche products and good services, and clearly, we try to build up all our processes in order to achieve this independently on how many customers do we have o how much business do we develop. The key thing for us is to provide products and service levels in line with the customer’s expectations.
Many companies don’t take the time to find out what their customers want, do not spend time asking customers what they would like.
5- How do you ensure quality across all of your products?
We try them all, and it’s quite funny!
6- Where did your passion for high-quality Mediterranean food come from?
I’m Spanish and Fabrizio is from Palermo (Sicily), we both work and live in Turin and was quite difficult finding the products we’re used to eating in our mother cities/countries. That’s another reason why we start thinking about Mediterranea.
7- What was the biggest challenge you faced while growing your business?
Our biggest challenge has been to start from scratch, knocking on the door of customers and providers for the first time, without a name behind. But this is what has given Mediterranea Store the focus and know-how that we’ve today.
We are also seeing nonfood digital players expanding into food, either directly or by partnering with traditional and niche grocery businesses. This significantly changes the competitive landscape and forces us to rethink our strategy.
8- What is the greatest lesson you have learned?
Customer centricity pays.
Consumers are bombarded with approx 6,000 advertising messages a day on average, which makes it very tricky for an individual brand to stand out against that.
As a result, new customer acquisition is increasingly difficult and expensive, which makes holding onto your existing customers even more important.
It makes no sense to spend a lot of money on digital marketing if you don’t have a great product and service behind.
9- What has been your biggest success story?
Every satisfied customer is a success.
10- Any suggestions you would like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Make sure you’re solving a problem for your customer, you don’t just want to build a solution because you think the technology is cool or the product is cool. You need to know their habits and what they’re like and how they perceive that problem and if they are open to a solution.
Another important point: make sure that there is customer willingness to pay. Creating value if the customer is not willing to pay isn’t sufficient.