This article previously appeared in Cross-Border Magazine 11.
At the Digital 1-to-1 event in Barcelona, we meet up with Bosco Garcia Puig, Head of Digital at Meller. The Spanish brand focuses on social commerce, selling fashion accessories such as sunglasses and watches online and offline. The brand is close to its fifth anniversary and has been expanding quite a lot over these years.
Thanks for taking the time to meet with us, Bosco. What is it you enjoy most about events?
‘Events like Digital 1-to-1 have a very different approach when it comes to meeting people. You get to know a lot of people in just a few days. You learn about twenty new solutions that are offered and you wish you could add them to your e-commerce the very next day. When a new solutions surprises me, I want to know more about it. I want to try it. That is what you can do during these events. Watch live demonstrations and talk to the people behind the idea. The communication is personal and authentic, especially in one-on-one conversations. That aspect of networking is great.’
Tell us about Meller. It is very online-oriented, but has started to sell through offline channels in Spain as well. What is the reason for adding these alternative channels?
‘We are focusing on opening offline channels in order to extend our client reach. . Our focus is online, but we partnered with a big distributor that sells through 400 selling points in Spain. This way we can sell our sunglasses in retail too. It is a great opportunity to expand the brand and our brand name through offline channels. Online channels will remain our core focus. Right now, it accounts for about 80% of all our sales. It is why we are looking for more ways to sell online in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.’
Which is your best-selling product category?
‘It depends on the time of year and the location. Sunglasses sell very well in the summer, so it is worth focusing on this product category during these months. On the other hand, sales of our main product, watches, are rising in the months of September, October, November and December. Our business of selling watches is sustainable all through the year, creating a profitable cash flow.’
Sunglasses are a very seasonal product. Is that a reason to look for other markets, like the Americas?
‘It is one of the reasons. We, for example, tried to make things work in Australia. Seasonality is something that can be ‘solved’ when going cross-border. Unfortunately, though, the Australian market did not work for us just yet.’
How did Meller become a famous brand?
‘Social media is very important for our brand, especially Facebook and Instagram. Right now, we are collaborating with many micro-influencers. We tried to do more than a thousand collaborations with micro-influencers last year.’
As competition in your market has grown significantly over the past few years. Have you noticed that it is more difficult to brand your products?
‘There’s more to it than just that. We have a lot of competition from sellers who try to sell the same kind of products. There are brands that sell sunglasses and watches all over the world. What is even more striking is that there is a lot of competition on Instagram and Facebook through which we advertise. The costs associated with advertising and the cost for CPM (Clicks Per Message) have increased by more than 100% per year over the past three years. Additionally the experience of collaborating with an influencer can differ hugely from country to country. For example, it is possible to collaborate with an influencer in Spain that has over 100,000 followers for free, as they only wish to receive the product. Contrarily, influencers with more than 20,000 followers in Germany ask to be paid extra to be interested in a collaboration.’
How do you deal with that?
‘We use two strategies. Firstly, we try to collaborate with micro-influencers and reward them with our products. They receive the product as a reward for their collaboration. The second strategy is to activate paid collaborations with influencers that are very high-profile. Influencers whose engagement with our brand, as well as their community, is very high. Side activities include some minor investments in traditional online marketing like Google AdWords.’
Do you sell other products besides watches and sunglasses?
‘We are working on launching a new jewelry category at the moment. It is not branded under the name Meller, though. We named it Nalya.’
‘The target audience for these products differs. It has a different representation compared to our sunglasses and watches. Therefore, we concluded the project should have its own image and own name. Nalya is what this elegant line became.’
Will you be adding other products to your web shop as well?
‘It is not likely in the coming months. We considered selling backpacks, as we saw competitors launch backpack lines a while ago. Right now, though, we are focussed on nurturing our brand, launching the jewelry line and increasing the lifetime value for our customers.’
Which are Meller’s most important markets?
‘Spain and Germany are definitely number one and two. They are followed by the United Kingdom, although we have to see how Brexit will affect our business here. France and Italy are major markets for us as well.’
How do you deal with customer service?
‘We have a person in customer support for the aforementioned markets. We work with an international team, so we do not focus on just providing Spanish or English customer service. Currently we can provide service for people from different countries and we provide our website in five languages: Spanish, German, English, Italian and French.’
What is the biggest challenge when selling in other countries?
‘There are a lot of things that can make or break your success when it comes to cross-border e-commerce. Within Europe, there are a lot of differences and a lot of similarities. When you take going cross-border a step further, it becomes more difficult. For example, selling in Mexico is not the same as selling in European countries at all. The competition is different, as is consumer behavior. In Europe, consumers are looking for new, fashionable brands. In Mexico, consumers are far more traditional, interested in much more settled, well-known brands. That is only one of the few brands they show interest in. Successfully entering the Mexican market requires a very different kind of thinking. I believe that it is useful for every company to have a local contact to create a local touch when entering a new market.’
What about sales channels? Besides social media and offline, are you using other channels on which to sell?
‘We have our website of course. We also sell our products to Amazon, and in turn Amazon sells the products to their customers. We are considering other social channels like Pinterest but have no specific plans at the moment.’
How does the delivery take place once a sale is generated?
‘Every order is shipped from our partner warehouse in Madrid, Spain. It is very easy and scalable for us to do. Our small items lend themselves well to ship from one location only. However, it might change in the future.’