Interview with Ferran Abelló – Success Story
We’ve decided to interview Ferran Abelló because we believe sharing his experience will help those who are already in the business world and inspire and motivate those who have not yet taken the plunge.
ABOUT FERRÁN ABELLÓ AND HIS CAREER
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR CAREER PATH
My name is Ferran Abelló, and during my professional career I have worked in financial positions for 10 years, in general management positions for 10 years and since 2010 I have been the founder and CEO of Pundaline, one of the first pet e-commerce businesses on the market.
WHAT LED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS? AND HOW DID YOU START PETCLIC?
Many entrepreneurs get an idea for a business and then turn it into reality. In my case, it was more the desire or the challenge to do something with full decision-making capacity. As for my pet business, that came about from my knowledge of the industry. By that time, I had the resources to invest in an e-commerce business, and so it began.
WHAT VALUES HAVE BEEN IMPORTANT TO YOU AS AN ENTREPRENEUR? AND HOW MUCH HAVE THEY INFLUENCED THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS?
Effort is the main one. An important part of it is also to pursue an idea, even if it is unattainable; the determination and ambition to be a little more demanding every day.
- DO YOU THINK HAVING PREVIOUS TRAINING IS ESSENTIAL BEFORE STARTING A BUSINESS?
There are entrepreneurs who are trained and others who aren’t, I don’t think it makes a difference. I think what really makes a difference is when—in both cases—the entrepreneur studies, informs him or herself and learns everything necessary to develop the project as they progress.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Those of every project: the constant adjustments you have to make, the fit with the customer, the speed with which tools and environments have changed in recent years.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO AN ENTREPRENEUR WHO’S STARTING OUT TODAY AT A HISTORICAL MOMENT THAT IS SO DIFFERENT FROM ANY TIME WE’VE SEEN BEFORE?
Make every effort to start your business in good company. With partners or good professionals who can cover the business knowledge side that entrepreneurs always lack, with industry partners, with financial partners. Covering 100% of the knowledge of that new business will bring you a little closer to the project being successful.
ACCORDING TO INDUSTRY EXPERTS, E-COMMERCE WILL CONTINUE TO GROW IN SPAIN IN 2022. WILL ONLY THE BIG PLAYERS GROW OR DO YOU THINK NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO START AN ONLINE STORE FROM SCRATCH?
Starting an online store from scratch in 2022 when there are tens of thousands of similar stores is not the same as it was 10 or 15 years ago.
The biggest online stores will grow; these brands already have customers, and their online platform is one more sales channel, so they’ll certainly see this growth. But we’re also seeing how new projects that started out online have taken space in recent months or a few years.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF E-COMMERCE?
E-commerce is growing and will continue to grow because of the elements that make it up and because today’s society values some aspects of traditional physical retail, but others are no longer a value. People will likely still want to visit fashion or decorating stores, but hardly anyone is attracted to a shopping experience for bottled water, toilet paper or soft drinks in a supermarket.
THERE IS MORE AND MORE TALK ABOUT PERSONALISED SALES. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF OFFERING GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE, AND WHAT BENEFITS DOES IT BRING IN YOUR EXPERIENCE TO THE ONLINE STORE?
Customers expect it. No one should believe that customers will give up help, knowledge or guidance when shopping online. Customer service must be part of your business and at the highest level, although the tools, times and formats will be different and have to evolve.
WHEN YOU WERE LOOKING FOR A CHAT FOR PETCLIC, WHAT WAS THE NEED YOU WANTED TO COVER?
We were looking for a tool that would allow us to have personal interaction. Few e-commerce stores at the time had a chat, and what was there was a very basic technological solution. We wanted to have human contact with customers and efficiency in the process.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE OCT8NE?
There was nothing like it. Chats then were just a tool for textual dialogue. Simple. Oct8ne offered many more possibilities: video chatting, customer tracking, sending the conversation, sharing the product with customers… and the chat has evolved even further in recent years.
The tools we used 8 or 10 years ago in e-commerce stores have all changed. Most have been almost entirely replacing them, but in our case, we haven’t touched the chat and search engine. Dozens of software, platforms and tools have been replaced or have become obsolete, but Oct8ne has been able to evolve and remain at the forefront.
WHAT INDUSTRIES WOULD YOU INVEST IN?
Without hesitating, in the digital sphere, particularly in businesses focused on services to people, education, health, the elderly. These are industries that will evolve technologically in the coming years.
E-commerce in industries where current retail is not yet set up to offer a differentiated or ‘emotive’ shopping experience, where customers don’t feel particularly ‘excited’ to go shopping.
Physical retail still has a lot to offer, but also a lot to change. In the coming years, we’ll see how new models based on the experience of the shopping trip will unfold in physical commerce.
DO YOU THINK IT IS BETTER FOR STORES TO HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL IMPRINT FROM THE BEGINNING? WHAT DOES THIS MODEL ENTAIL? AND IF YOU START WITH A NATIONAL IMPRINT, HOW IMPORTANT IS TRANSLATION IN THE PROCESS OF INTERNATIONALIZING AN ONLINE COMPANY?
I believe that an e-commerce business with a clear international vision has a better chance of growing and generating value. A model or product that can cover different markets means that it is broad in its own market. In addition, in our case, internationalization demonstrated to us that there are markets that are much more important than our own and that learning from other countries adjusts the value proposition in our own market.
Regarding translation, in my case, there is a generational gap due to my age. For me, it should be impeccable. The text, neatness, and spelling are inexcusable, but I am seeing how e-commerce businesses of the highest level and high growth have completely dispensed with that ‘detail’.
DO YOU HAVE TO BE EXPERTS IN SEO, ADS, SOCIAL MEDIA ETC. TO PUT TOGETHER A GOOD STRATEGY? WHAT ARE THE KEY ELEMENTS TO HAVING A SUCCESSFUL E-COMMERCE BUSINESS?
These aspects must be considered, of course. But you can build that into your project through third parties.
The key element in my opinion is to land any value proposition well, always considering the customers who are going to demand it.
IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT IS THE MOST SERIOUS MISTAKE ONE CAN MAKE WHEN MANAGING AN ONLINE BUSINESS?
The most serious mistake is usually mismatching. Thinking you have a product that everyone will need, thinking you can win with the price, thinking you can create a need that doesn’t exist. These are tracks that either end soon or become very long.
In this case, financing often catches us out.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW? DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW PROJECTS YOU WANT TO TELL US ABOUT?
Now I’m at Guaw, the first business in the pet industry that focuses its attention unequivocally on the animal and the customer, the first that was created with an omnichannel model and the intention of doing things differently, considering values such as sustainability, quality, the environment and the way we want to relate to our animals.
We closed 2021 with a 20 million turnover, 18 physical stores, and presence in 6 countries. The business was founded in 2021.