eCommerce Life #1. How did Italy retail survive under COVID – 19. FreshFarm insights

We open the series of webcast interviews – eCommerce Life. In these series, we’ll talk with eCommerce business owners, discuss the COVID-19 challenges, learn about their businesses during the pandemic period, and how their companies feel right now.   

Today we have Sauro Galassi, the CEO of an Italian company Fresh FarmFreshFarm is a perfect place where you can choose ski or snowboard equipment, and it’s also a fantastic travel agency.   


Can you please share with us some information regarding your experience with e-commerce?   


Sauro: Fresh Farm focuses on winter sports, especially on ski and snowboard activities. We have a physical shop based in the northern part of Italy, an e-commerce site, and a travel agency. We organize snowboard and ski events, mostly during winters but sometimes also in summer.   



You were in the center of the pandemic in Italy. What changes have you had to make when quarantine started?  


Sauro: The situation was quite confusing, especially in the beginning. Due to the virus, the government took different steps to deal with the crisis, and we had to close the physical shop immediately. At first, when the pandemic just started (especially here in the northern part of Italy), we canceled all snowboard events because it was unsafe. We shifted our focus and activities on the e-commerce website and shipped our products every day, as carriers were allowed to work during the quarantine.   



Have you changed your marketing activities to adapt to the situation? Maybe you open new channels or create some activities because Covid-19 started when you have a peak in sales and traveling.   


Sauro: No, we didn’t change the way we communicate with our audience. We had already been using all digital channels before the pandemic started, so we had nothing to add or change. As I said, we stay in a positive mood.   



And how does the situation affect the product range? Do you rethink your products and services? Maybe create some supporting services, or new products, like you already have the supporting service with the travel agency inside the Fresh Farm.   


Sauro: At first, we focused only on the stuff we could do, which was the e-commerce store. And also, we provide a free exchange to help customers and to boost sales.   


As you focus mainly on online business, your website’s platform is essential and crucial for you. What platform do you use or plan to use? Is it easy to update product information, to manage orders and track inventory on your website?   


Sauro: We are using custom CMS and ERP at the moment. But we started to build a new website on Magento last year, so we hope to go live with the new online store in the next few weeks. Now it’s quite easy for us to manage, for example, article uploads or to handle order fulfillment or stuff like that. We have a long history of eCommerce. We have been in business since I think 2006 or 2008. We are continually growing and know what we need.   



You have a vast experience in e-commerce. What is most vital for you in your platform behind the    


Sauro: We need all the stuff and the tools that modern e-commerce requires. Our platform and operations have to be fast, and now we have a solution. I think quick integration and order management in few clicks are FreshFarm top priority.   



The secret recipe for successful eCommerce strategy is fewer clicks for all management processes, fast and easy integration with third-party tools, and platform performance.  


Sauro: Yes, because we are small…But at the same time, we’re big in our niche. We are leaders, and so we need to be fast and goal-oriented. And, as I mentioned before, we need to have operation process management in a few clicks.  


You have Magento 2 on the backend of your website. What are other tools you use for your daily activities, like marketing and sales?   


Sauro: Speaking about marketing, we use social media channels: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc. We invest a lot of time and resources in content marketing and social media. Besides, we also use technical tools like Critio for re-marketing. And of course, we sell on other marketplaces like Amazon and eBay; also, we use Google Shopping.    



What tools are you using for delivery and the payments?  


Sauro: We have an exclusive agreement with our partner GLS. We use GLS as our primary carrier for all shipments. For payments with use Amazon, Braintree, PayPal, and also, we decided to give our customers offline payment options like post-payment and bank-transfer.   



Nice to hear that you have the leading position on the market despite the situation, and you confident with your strategy. It’s interesting to know what is happening in Italy and a Fresh Farm now.  


Sauro: Now we’re reopening! We start with the physical shop, which was opened two weeks ago. We use masks to protect our customers, and probably it’s the same everywhere. We try to restart travel and events this summer, so just trying to get back to normal life.  



What does the future look like to you, to the Fresh Farm? What are your plans?  


Sauro: We need to stay positive and invest in technologies if we want to grow our business. We build a new online shop on Magento 2, and I’m waiting for it to understand how it works for our clients and us. We stay strong and keep investing in online directions, and especially in marketing and tech.   



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Valeria Nikitiuk About the author

An IT-geek and digital marketing specialist, a social media expert and content maker for the international IT market, fond of technologies and business development.