Fernando Aparicio, former pay pal country manager and current Director of the first Advanced Program Ecommerce Projects of Kschool, is one of the most reputable people in our country on electronic commerce.
A professional with more than 20 years of experience in various areas: international sales, project management and Internet companies and consultancy in legal and procedural aspects of information security, which reveals the latest trends and news in a sector that is experiencing the beginning of an authentic and great golden age.
Developing an online sales channel in a traditional company includes building “a company within the company”. This concept is clear for a pure player of Internet, where all the business is developed online, but it is somewhat diffuse for the traditional company, especially in the SME field, which tends to identify electronic commerce with a technological platform that works the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. The reality is more complex, since it implies the need to evaluate all aspects that make a company successful long before it reaches technology. That the focus that has been given to electronic business in Spain has been strictly technological is one of the usual errors of many of the initiatives that have been tried so far in Spain.
In terms of competitive advantages, it allows the creation of a global channel by nature, efficient in costs compared to the costs of offline distribution, absolutely measurable in its results and which allows interaction and direct knowledge of the final customer, something today by today unaffordable for companies such as manufacturers, for example.
What kind of consumer are we on the internet?
An unfaithful consumer, demanding and increasingly informed by the intrinsic ease offered by the Internet to compare information between one store and another, especially when product comparators start to proliferate in all sectors of the economy. There are two great “ethnic groups”, those that seek price and those that seek comfort or amplitude of offer.
As the director of Kschool’s first Advanced Ecommerce Projects Program, what have you tried to achieve with this program?
The idea is to train a professional with global knowledge in all the areas that make up the management of an online channel. There is a great shortage of qualified professionals who, in the absence of experience, provide at least an overview of electronic commerce and exhaustive knowledge in each of the areas that allow them to exercise managerial positions.
At what point is Ecommerce in our country compared to others? Is there still some uncertainty about making purchases through the internet?
The myth of insecurity on the Internet remains entrenched among buyers, despite advances in the security of means of payment. I say myth because in reality it is the seller who is most unprotected in case of Internet fraud, not the buyer. And as for the comparison with other countries, although we continue to advance at a rate of 26% per year, the French and British e-commerce markets, for example, are respectively three and seven times higher than Spanish, which is a worrying fact, since this advantage that we potentially have to reach more easily foreign markets thanks to the Internet also operates in reverse and we are already witnessing how French companies develop digital business in Spain with great ease, given their greater experience in the digital world.
What are the trends in terms of technology that help us in the market to connect with the potential consumer? In this sense, social networks are a key to reach the customer?
Social networks are a reality that every company must know how to manage in a very personalized way, here there is no coffee for everyone, nor the chances of success are the same in a great brand that an unknown SME that will require a major branding effort to give to know. I do not like to identify social networks with technology precisely because the technology behind it is trivial, the difference is the gigantic change they have introduced in the way people communicate, which has directly affected companies, which are struggling to reach the consumer and exert influence on him to conquer a domain dominated, today, by the most admired companies (Apple, Amazon, Google, Coca Cola, Starbucks, etc). Another area with a lot of growth potential is customer service, key aspect in what connection with the user is concerned. It relies on technological solutions such as online chat and virtual assistants, for example, that help to humanize the act of selling online and clear up many of the user’s doubts and fears about online sales, as well as directly influencing the act of purchase.
Every time there are more applications designed to facilitate the purchase to the user through mobile devices, is an important market niche opening?
The same thing happens with social networks, it is the great future but it still does not represent an important volume of business. Another thing is that any online sales strategy should include in its roadmap the development of both a communication and sales strategy in social networks and a commitment to know and deepen the field of mobile applications, which should provide an added value to what the web version offers. However, the adoption of new forms of payment in the mobile will have great influence on the exponential development of the business to the extent that they can reinforce the user’s trust, the main barrier (unjustified, as I mentioned above) to electronic commerce.
This discipline grows every day and evolves, where is the future of electronic commerce going?
In my opinion, the main difference of the perspective of the Spanish company with respect to other countries is the consideration of electronic commerce as a niche area, not a radical change in the way of doing business. This depends a lot on the sectors, since banking, insurance or tourism have long since migrated the business to the Internet, given the change in user habits and the reduction in costs of the Internet channel. Many sectors are still struggling with the channel conflict that involves selling on the Internet, given the disintermediation that implies. The problem is that electronic commerce is, in essence, global and that brings to light the structural deficiencies of the Spanish company in terms of export capacity, language proficiency, etc. E-commerce should be a natural extension of export activity, and this is where the rest of the countries around us still have a great advantage. And another recurring naivety is to consider Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay or PayPal, “Internet companies”, when they are taking over whole sectors of the real economy thanks to, precisely, the admiration generated among its users.
And within the areas of electronic commerce, in addition to professionals with a general knowledge of the electronic business, specialized experts will be needed in each of the areas (technology, marketing, logistics, web analytics, payment methods, customer service, etc.) . The digital turn that companies such as Telefónica or Inditex have taken is not coincidence, it is the sign of the times and the starting signal for an irreversible trend.
From Amvos consulting how do you help companies to move from the offline to the online world? What kind of services do you offer?
We offer an integral service for those companies, mainly for those that have not yet started in online sales. The first step is to define a rational and reasonable strategy, according to the market situation and the real possibilities of the product or service that you want to sell. Subsequently, we take care of the development of the technological platform with all its implications (graphic design, usability, store scheduling and integration with payment gateways, logistics providers or internal information systems, customer service, etc.), taking into account strict compliance legal depending on its geographical scope. Once the project is launched, Our team specialized in online marketing is responsible for the execution of the previously established marketing plan and the analytical and administrative support to the internal team, if any, which is responsible for the management of the online channel. If the company does not have internal staff, we also offer outsourcing services for the Ecommerce Director function, in close connection with the internal departments of the company or coaching / internal training to the team that will subsequently be responsible for the management. All this without ruling out specialized services in each of the areas mentioned (strategy, technology, marketing, means of payment, legality, logistics, customer service) We also offer outsourcing services for the Ecommerce Director function, in close connection with the internal departments of the company or coaching / internal training to the team that will subsequently be responsible for the management. All this without ruling out specialized services in each of the areas mentioned (strategy, technology, marketing, means of payment, legality, logistics, customer service) We also offer outsourcing services for the Ecommerce Director function, in close connection with the internal departments of the company or coaching / internal training to the team that will subsequently be responsible for the management. All this without ruling out specialized services in each of the areas mentioned (strategy, technology, marketing, means of payment, legality, logistics, customer service)
Finally, what would you say to someone who wants to dedicate to Ecommerce and who would have liked to know when you started?
My career on the Internet goes back more than 13 years, when I started developing web pages for companies that started on the Internet. After the crises of the .com, I participated in several companies that developed information security services. My contact with several clients of the financial and insurance sector helped me since 2005 to specialize in ecommerce, especially as a result of my experience in Línea Directa. Later, I was General Manager of PayPal and in the last 3 years we have been developing e-commerce projects in traditional companies of various sectors (warehouses, textiles, footwear, rest products, office supplies, professional services, financial sector, etc).