"You guys need to get online. Otherwise the business might not survive".
It had been one month since Spain declared a national emergency and locked down the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Jon Gorospe, our Head of Customer Success was on the phone with a close friend of the Hinojosa family, Luis.
"We can help you. What do you think?"
If you're from Málaga, you probably know the Hinojosas. But if not, the Hinojosa family has been in the shoe business in Málaga for 100 years.
Located in the narrow streets of the historic centre on Calle San Juan, they are renowned for their authentic alpargatas (espadrilles) commonly used during the summer season in Andalucía. It's been a family owned business for three generations, and a very successful one at that.
Until that day Jon reached out and offered to help them take their sales online, Calzados Hinojosa focused their efforts on locals and tourists, something that never failed them in the past.
The lockdown in Spain was devastating for local businesses like Calzados Hinojosa. Knowing they had two options: sink or swim, Luis said, "I'll talk to the family."
That was a Saturday.
Taking 100 years online
That very Monday, the Hinojosa family hired a web agency to start working on the website.
That same week, the Plytix team started to help them collect their product data. The Hinojosa team did a tremendous job in a single week. They created a spreadsheet from scratch with all the product information they could get from their products, about 300 different products with 3000 variations in total.
“I have on-boarded hundreds of clients [to the Plytix PIM] and it's not often that I run into people who show such dedication and determination.” says Jon, “I’m still amazed by the perseverance and hard work the Hinojosas put into this in just a week.”
Now that they had brands, prices, materials, descriptions, sizes, and more all standardised and collected into their PIM, they faced one more huge challenge: product images.
How do you get images for over 300 different products from 12 different brands, when most of those brands are small old school craftsmen?
Simple. You can’t.
We know because we tried. We spend 3 weeks of emails back and forth trying to get product images together.
We got our hands on some, but there was no consistency. This is something that isn't good for a new ecommerce store. You want everything to look and feel right.
Product Images: Plan B
We weren't going to throw in the towel, so the Hinojosas got themselves a photographer. Obviously there were resource limitations, but at least by now it was mid May and many of the restrictions had been lifted. However a studio session was still out of the picture. They needed to get website quality images on a budget, so they began testing.
After playing around with different backgrounds, angles, contexts, and lighting they hit the jackpot. The background was original, meaningful, and really really cool. They decided to use the countertop of their store, a 100 year old wood plank. Alpargatas generally have a cream coloured canvas sole, which makes them pop on the dark wood. It was perfect.
By the end of June, in addition to celebrating their centennial, their website went live!
How Plytix Fits into Their Story
At this point you might be wondering, "What does Plytix do and how does this help a company go online?"
Plytix is a product information management (PIM) software. This kind of software is a digital library of all the product content a company might use to sell and market their products online. Most companies still rely on spreadsheets to do this, but a PIM allows for a more dynamic use of the information so that it can be sent to ecommerce platforms, websites, or marketplaces quickly and efficiently.
When the COVID pandemic hit, we were concerned that people were going to press pause on buying software, but just the opposite occurred. We got a huge influx of prospects, large and small, reaching out to us to start to streamline their operations with PIM. Some were just looking for a faster and smarter way to manage their content online due to remote work requirements and/or huge demand for products like sports equipment.
But others wanted to digitalize their product information from scratch. One of those companies was Calzados Hinojosa, a local business just down the street from our Spanish office in Malaga.
Calzados Hinojosa could have made the jump online without Plytix, but it probably would have taken way longer. With a product information management system, the Hinojosa family can now expand their online presence further onto marketplaces within a day if they choose to.
For the Hinojosas, however, it was enough for now to get the website up and running.
"Thanks to Plytix we have expanded to new markets and are receiving orders from many neighbouring European countries” says Hinojosa's son Alberto. “The future is unprecedented and who knows what will happen in the months to come, at least now we are ready for whatever has to happen.”
From left to right: Oliver Crespo (Web Designer), Angel (Photographer and family friend), Javier Hinojosa (Owner), Alberto Hinojosa (Owner), Luis Guerra (Copywriter and family friend), Jon Gorospe (Head of Customer Success at Plytix), Alberto Hinojosa Jr. (son of Alberto Hinojosa).
Challenges Bring Opportunities
For many businesses, the pandemic forced a scenario that they were planning on tackling in the next 5 years. Some companies didn't make it, while others embraced change openly and swiftly. We saw things like click and collect from parking lots, the rise of fashionable masks, and restaurants selling toilet paper. There is always a way to turn chaos into capital if you're able to react fast enough.
The Hinojosa family did a seemingly simple change: they moved online. For those of you who have made the leap, you know it isn't so simple. The work they put in to do it quickly was monumental, but they made it happen and we are truly grateful that we were part of the process.