ReturnINTERVIEW WITH SERGI LOSADA, HEAD OF E-COMMERCE AT SPRAYPLANET.ES
“The digital sector in Spain advanced 10 years in a span of two months. As simple as that." We spoke about digital commerce in the days of COVID-19 with Sergi Losada, who is in charge of SprayPlanet.es, the Montana Colors e-Commerce site for Spain and Portugal, which is celebrating its 12th anniversary.
Could you introduce yourself and explain what Spray Planet is (when was it started) and what relationship does it have to Montana Colors?
Hello! I’m Sergio Losada, the head of e-Commerce for Montana Colors in Spain and Portugal.
I have been working for this company for 14 years, and 12 years ago I started the Spray Planet project, the official online store for Montana Colors in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands.
Spray Planet was born in 2008 to respond to a need in the Montana Colors peninsular market, where many customers had to travel long distances to find our brand’s products. The online store delivered the products to our client’s within 48 hours, in a comfortable and reliable way.
Explain in detail what your role is as Head of E-Commerce at Spray Planet. Do you find it an easy role?
Online commerce and digital communication are exciting. And when you are passionate about something, then it’s always easier.
Unlike many other professions, this is one where you must always be in constant evolution.
Digital marketing, social networks, online sales...the internet we know today will be totally different in 5 years time, which forces me to be in permanent training and attentive to upcoming trends.
On the other hand, being surrounded by a good team also makes things much easier.
What differentiates the Spray Planet/Montana Colors online store compared to other online stores and your role as manager?
Spray Planet was born in 2008 at a time when, to be clear, online commerce was in its infancy in Spain. To put it in context, at that time YouTube and Facebook had just been reached in Spain, and Instagram was not even a project.
Little by little and based on a lot of work and direct relationships with clients, we became the referential online store in the graffiti world. Over time we saw the public interest in decoration, fine arts and DIY grow exponentially.
I believe that the priority for customer service, reliability and the pursuit of excellence is what makes us different from other online stores that have popped up in recent years in this sector.
How did you experience the increase in online sales as a result of the confinement resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and what conclusions have you drawn?
The digital sector in Spain has advanced 10 years in 2 months. As simple as that.
I was surprised to read during the weeks of confinement that some company managers were talking about opening their own online store or investing in digitization, without realizing that they are late. Online commerce is not the future, it has been present for quite a few years now.
It took two months of locking up an entire country for some to understand that.
How are online sales and sales through stores and distributors streamlined? Is there a certain “cannibalization” of an audience/clients that, in the end, is a common and recurring theme in the on/off line debate?
The million dollar question.
The paint industry is generally very traditional and that makes it conservative per se.
Many took the fact that online sales were booming as a threat and not an opportunity. I wish many traditional shops and stores would invest half the effort in digitizing their catalog as they dedicate to complaining about platforms or marketplaces like Amazon or ManoMano.
There is a market for everyone and the constant increase in sales in the last 10 years, both in the traditional and online sectors, demonstrates this.
What is your opinion about new technologies and platforms as allies in online sales? Delivery systems that can be activated through networks such as Glovo or other companies that accompany the sale, such as Amazon, undoubtedly redefine a new scenario: what role will Spray Planet have in it?
They are fully complementary services to our business.
Spain has been "Amazonised" in very few years. We buy a product and we want it now.
Fast delivery platforms, giant marketplaces like Amazon or even tremendously comfortable and reliable payment gateways like Paypal or Bizum are just a reflection of where the market is going.
Spray Planet is obligated to be part of that ecosystem.
When establishing a sales strategy and advertising an online offer, what has to be taken into account to carry it out?
The essential element is always the client, and offering them the best possible value.
You have to know your client...how old they are, where they’re from, how they found you, what motivates them to come into your store, what they like and don't like about you, etc.
Then, once segmented, language and digital communication must be adapted for each of these target audiences. It is not the same to promote paint for graffiti as for decoration of outdoor furniture, despite the fact that in many cases the product being sold is exactly the same.
Seasonality and special sale days (Black Friday, Book Week, Internet Day...) must also be taken into account.
At the beginning of the year, we establish a calendar of fixed actions that are always altered for one reason or another. This year, without going any deeper, COVID-19 has changed everything, forcing us to rethink all the campaigns from March onwards.
Without a doubt, the online world is already a reality in itself: are links established with users/customers similar to those that can be generated through traditional in-person commerce? How important is customer loyalty and how is this reflected in their buying habits?
Obviously the connection that is generated between a user and an online business will never reach the level of personal treatment that can be given in a physical store.
That is why, we seek maximum closeness with the user, attending to every incident or query as quickly as possible. Above all, sensing the security and reliability of a store that has been at your side since 2008.
As for the second question, customer loyalty starts with an excellent shopping experience. If that works, you’re already halfway there.
Also as a small detail, for years, we have added a gift pack in all the shipments, and we try to reward our repeat customers with discounts on successive purchases.
Who is Spray Planet's longest-standing customer?
Uffff...difficult question considering that we’ve just turned 12.
I can say that there are some who have accompanied us throughout this whole journey. In fact, despite receiving dozens of purchases every day, it’s always a special feeling to read the names of some historical clients when reviewing the sales of the day.
Tell us the weirdest, funniest and most surprising anecdotes that you have from your career as Head of E-Commerce at Spray Planet by Montana Colors.
One of the things I regret the most in these years is not having created a compilation of anecdotes from the beginning, because really, there have been so many and such a variety that I could write a book.
Nowadays they are less and less common due to the universalization of online shopping, but we have had everything: very angry parents who have called us to complain about selling spray paint to their children without their consent (but with their card), customers who wanted to buy but couldn’t register because they didn’t know what an email was, some who insisted on making the purchase over the phone...
I affectionately remember a call a few years ago from a rather old man who was making the first online purchase of his life. It was a call that lasted more than half an hour as I guided him step by step until confirming the order. It was worth it just to listen to him be tremendously satisfied that he dared to do it. Surely many other people in a similar situation would need that guide. That is something that Amazon, for example, cannot offer.
We know that work, like life, isn’t only about the good things and that it’s important to analyze the negatives in order to learn from them, improve or value the positives more. Any examples from your work when you had to suffer?
Running such a business almost one-on-one is equally satisfying as it is stressful. COVID-19 has put us to the test on all levels, reaching a level of demand that we had never seen before.
On the other hand, to give a more concrete example, in the end, customer satisfaction is what we value most and there are times when that aspect doesn’t depend entirely on us — the transport agency that distributes the packages also plays a part. As well as carrying out our work, everything can fall apart in the last step of the chain and when some clients have had bad experiences with the distributors, it generates powerlessness on our end, and in my case, monumental anger. We can only fix it by being sympathetic to the customer and offering some form of compensation for future purchases.
Do you have any links with the brand or the products outside of work?
On a personal level, I am more of a collector of books or limited editions than anything else.
I use MTN products that are especially related to decoration and DIY at home.
What I’ve achieved in these past years is that all my close circle of family and friends have made purchases in our stores in Barcelona or online every time they wanted to decorate or fix something. All with excellent reviews of the results, by the way.
Regarding other work experiences that you’ve had in your life...what do you think differentiates Spray Planet by Montana Colors from other companies?
I have always believed that working in the Montana Colors group is special.
We manufacture and market a product so attractive that I usually surprise or generate curiosity whenever I explain to someone who we are and what we do.
Perhaps my sense of attachment to the brand and its values doesn’t allow me to be objective, but in 14 years I have always felt valued and respected my work, something that many people in my close circle cannot say about their respective companies.
What is your professional motto?
Years ago I read a phrase in a marketing book that marked me…
"The best advertising is that which your satisfied customers do" and I couldn't agree more.
That is why I believe that the pursuit of excellence is the key to all success.ShareJune 18, 2020