One of the undisputed symbols of Spain in the world is the Valencian paella. As the number of Iberian eCommerce companies using Qapla’ to manage the shipping phase grows, we are proud to present the store that stands out for the spread of the paella culture, as well as for the sale of ingredients and equipment: Original Paella. We have interviewed the CEO Esther Plá Martí.
1) First of all, we want to thank you for being available for this interview.
Would you like to introduce your store in a few words?
It’s not easy ahahahah. Original Paella is a store dedicated to paella at 360 degrees. Includes the sale of all the tools and ingredients necessary for its preparation (main activity).
We are also implementing new services like: the training of professionals, large paellas catering, tool rental, the organisation of paella team building competitions, etc., for more than 120 countries around the world.
2) How did the idea of creating an eCommerce dedicated to Paella come about? Did you sell both equipment and ingredients right away?
Everything was born from a business idea. We realised that Paella is the fourth most sought-after dish on the internet and that, unlike pizza, sushi or risotto (the top 3 in the ranking), it requires specific utensils to cook it, such as a paella or paella pan, and a gas cooker. So we knew there was a global need for the products and found that they were supplied by logistics centres in Germany and the UK, we thought we could compete with them, improving market conditions.
This is because, among the ingredients of Original Paella, there are some like a simple round rice, which the consumer cannot easily find outside of Spain, as the trend is to use long and/or steamed rice (which absorbs much less flavour).
3) Are sales higher towards private individuals or for those who have, perhaps, a catering business or restaurants?
In the Spanish field, both in terms of consumption and supply, it is usually higher in the private sector. Due to the Covid pandemic, and with the closure of restaurants to the public, there has also been an increase in the catering sector thanks to home delivery and take-away.
Analysing the context outside of Spain, the biggest customer are restaurants.
We have noticed, however, that there are many Spaniards living outside their country who buy the equipment for private use, and then invest in a paella restaurant business requiring professional equipment.
4) How the integrity of food products in packaging is guaranteed?
We have chosen to work with brands that not only have added value in terms of product quality but also have a legal guarantee, due to delete possible obstacles to export. We protect our products on the basis of our experience and the article, this has progressively reduced the number of accidents during the transport phase, around 4%.
5) How important is the “from Valencia” guarantee especially for sales to foreign countries? How widespread is the knowledge of this dish in the world?
Paella implicitly bears the Valencian surname, and we work to make Valencia the “mecca of paella“… the place not to be missed to taste the authentic and original paella.
That’s why we are in close coordination with the city’s tourist agents and our media, highlighting our work also on social networks.
The diffusion of paella is global, and is undoubtedly the spearhead of the famous Spanish gastronomy.
Thanks, also, to the growth of Spain as an international tourist destination, the knowledge and diffusion of paella has become the 4th most sought-after dish on the Internet.
6) Speaking of culinary culture, do you also offer training and advice? How important is this in your business?
Yes, we help our customers not only in the sale of equipment but also in staff training or in the structure/opening of their business.
This is very important because we can offer a complete service recommended by professionals (which limits the process of trial and error that always occurs in a new business) and we can also provide specialized advice at the time of purchase that is highly appreciated by the customer and not easy to find on online sales platforms.
This, with the selection of the material, the shipping guarantee, and the after-sales service, completes the cycle of customer service that has made us obtain, and we are very proud of it, an evaluation of 4.9 out of 5 from our customers through Google.
7) How do you use the social channel?
Social channels are very important to us, which is why we work with them internally.
We are present on all social networks, but we highlight our presence on Instagram and especially on Facebook. Here we coordinate the group “Paellas y Arroces” (6000 members) and “Paellas and Rice Recipes” (21,000 members).The members of these groups are rice lovers from all over the world. They often solve doubts and/or problems, organise competitions and other things like the digital semi-final of the international paella competition. The final, held in Sweden, included the winners of the semi-finals celebrated all over the world, from Australia to Peru via the USA, Mexico or Japan. All of this increased our notoriety.
8) Regarding content marketing strategies, do you focus only on recipes and culinary advices or is there something else?
Basically, having these groups on Facebook, we have the advantage that 95% of the published content is external to us. It is the members themselves who show their paella recipes, or their advice, with an average of 20-30 posts per day. We intervene especially when there are doubts to clarify or things to explain, but at the same time, we care about creating valuable content.
A curious marketing strategy that we use, and which is very effective, is to give away our Original Paella apron for orders over €70 (we have already given away over 10,000 of them).
The customer, who uses the apron during the preparation of his recipes, will then share his photo on the socials, with the apron worn and the hashtag #elpoderdeldelantal.
9) During the months of lockdown, did you notice any changes? Has the passion for cooking increased at home?
Yes, in fact it was a real furor.
After the first 15 days of restrictions due to the pandemic, there was still the desire to cook Paella, and not being able to meet with family and/or friends, the number of new paeller born was exorbitant.
After becoming familiar with it, they are increasingly interested in improving and finding the recipe for the perfect paella.Induction paella has been especially successful, as it does not require a specific fire and is large enough for standard families (up to 6 people).
10) What need has led you towards the adoption of an instrument like Qapla’?
Certainly the desire to improve more and more the service we offer, and meet the needs of our customers. Shipment management is an essential part of the entire eCommerce process, it is a link which, if it breaks, causes the chain to break and all other efforts are in vain. We want our customers to be informed at all times and in good time about the status of their shipment, which is something we care about very much. Their curiosity / concern about the status of the paid order is also ours.
Qapla is vital in this because it conveys immediate security and peace of mind to our customers by informing them.
In addition, it improves the service and image the customer has of our brand, not involving any additional effort, but rather saving us valuable time.
11) Since you introduced Qapla’, what improvements have you had in the management of shipments and the time spent processing orders?
In our case, by offering the service globally, we could work with a maximum of 7/8 different shipping companies, each with its own shipping management process. This meant having to access all platforms and manually manage each shipment.
Qapla’ integrates seamlessly with our multi-store eCommerce platform (Prestashop) and has enabled us to simplify a lengthy process. Now it only takes one click to migrate all the data, saving a great deal of time.
In addition to having integrated the main operators, their service is exceptional, they, like us, care about the growth and listening to their customers.
12) Finally, is there a secret you can share for perfect Paella?
Hahaha “Practice makes masters” and in paella this is a premise.
The result is what counts, and a Paella, to be Original, must have the grain of rice cooked but the whole (not open) and loose. This requires mastery, technique, and extensive knowledge.
Maybe this is the secret of paella…it is difficult to reach a high level of knowledge and practice, but the beauty lies also in this. It is by practicing that you can get closer to the desired perfect Paella”.
Qapla’ is the platform that maximizes to square the opportunities of eCommerce in the shipping and after-sales process thanks to the customization of delivery messages: online tracking pages and transactional emails.
The recipient opens these branded communications very frequently (open rate > 70%) and is very sensitive to offers and/or call-to-action (average conversion rate above 4%).
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