What travel stories do you have?

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Hello Alex, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I worked in the automotive industry and financial services business before starting Mediterranea Store with Fabrizio, Sara and Enrica.

From the beginning, we strove to make our company customer-centric and customer-obsessed. In our initial research, we found that quite a lot of e-companies have never met their clients. As a result, these companies are only promoting the products they want to buy. It made us think: ‘How can they promote great products if they don’t ask customers?’

Please describe Mediterranea Store in a few words.

Mediterranea Store is first and foremost a service provider company as well as a food and grocery network. We interact with our customers and providers all while bringing a niche Mediterranean grocery to the market. It’s like a little marketplace where we hand-select one by one all of the products and providers we work with.

We help grocery artisans grow their business online, build their e-brand, and increase retention and the lifetime value of their products…and they help us by providing their warehouse and logistic support.

 Tell us more about how you came up with Mediterranea Store?

One day while me (Alex) and Fabrizio were having a coffee we discussed a problem that we saw with a lot of online and physical grocery stores: they all provide the same mass-generic or semi-niche food products. We had both discovered that it is very tough to find artisan products online – and that’s why we started our journey with Mediterranea Store.

We built a digital platform that enabled us to build real relationships with our customers and providers, hear what they thought about our products, and ultimately, grow.

We thought grocery e-commerces needed to radically rethink the way they build long-term customer relationships by providing something different (in terms of service and products) – the rest is history.

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 build all our processes in order to achieve this vision independently of how many customers we have. The key thing for us is to provide products and services in line with customer expectations.

Many companies don’t take the time to find out what their customers want, nor do they ask their customers what they would like. We want to change this dynamic.

How do you ensure quality across all of your products?

We try them all!

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 found it quite difficult to purchase the food products we were used to eating in our mother cities/countries. That’s when we started thinking about Mediterranea.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while growing your business?

Our biggest challenge was starting from scratch, knocking on the doors of customers and providers for the first time without a name behind us. But this is what has given Mediterranea Store the focus and know-how we have today.

Also, we are starting to see nonfood digital players expand into food, either directly or by partnering with traditional and niche grocery businesses. This has significantly changed the competitive landscape and has forced us to rethink our strategy.

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.

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 you.

 What has been your biggest success story?

Every satisfied customer is a success.

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 simply because you think the technology is cool or the product is cool, you need to know your customer’s habits, what they’re like, how they perceive their problems and if they are open to a solution.

Another important point: make sure that the customer is willing to pay. Creating value isn’t sufficient if the customer won’t pay.

BONUS: Where are your favorite places to travel?

I love traveling in the US. In Spain, I love the Cadiz area in the summer.