First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Rafael R. López: We are doing quite well and looking forward to be back on track as soon as possible.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined tablondeanuncios
Rafael R. López: I founded the company 20 years ago, in September 1999, although I started working in our first project www.tablondeanuncios.com at the beginning of 1998. Before that, I was managing director of an insurance company in Spain where I started working in 1989 as an engineer.
How does tablondeanuncios innovate?
Rafael R. López: In 1999 there weren’t much companies in Spain doing things on the Internet. We were the first classifieds website online.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Rafael R. López: We wrote an article about the impact of the Covid-19 in our business (https://www.tablondeanuncios.com/impacto-covid19-anuncios-clasificados.php). We saw an almost 50% decline in visitors the first day the lock-down took effect in Spain, then it has been steadily going up till pre-crisis level. In terms of visitors we have totally recovered, though not quite so in terms of revenue.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Rafael R. López: I think we have reacted, as a team, quite well. As an Internet company, we are used to work remotely, so no problem there. In the business part, and as soon as we saw the crisis coming, we knew we needed to do changes and create something new to compensate the decline in revenues we knew was coming. It turned out we were right. Some of the changes we have made are: Add new transactions functionality; waive or change fees for specific products and categories; launch new sub-sites and categories specific to Covid-19 concerns; improve content quality; keep fighting fraud; and reinforce local search and transactions.
Two other important things we did were:
At the beginning of the lock-down, we sent an email to all our users asking them to look around in the house and to put apart anything they thought they were not going to need any more like: clothes, shoes, toys, etc. for when the quarantine was over donate all those thing to a charity through our project “Dónalo” https://www.tablondeanuncios.com/donaciones/ to encourage people to donate to a charity anything they have at home they don’t need anymore. The motto was “Do not put it apart in you cellar or throw it away. Donate it! Some people might need it”
B) Local market.
We created a local market for small producers to be able to connect and sell their products locally and to our users to allow them to buy directly from farmers, fruits, vegetables, dairies, etc https://www.tablondeanuncios.com/mercado-local/
This has turned out to be a success and in less than three month, we have more than 300 producers selling their product through this marketplace
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and tablondeanuncios in the future?
Rafael R. López: As I have said before, we already have recovered, all we have lost in terms of website visitors, but not in revenues. We think that some months will pass till we recover the pre-crisis numbers in terms of revenue (if we do nothing at all, it would probably take years to recover), that’s the reason we create “Mercado local” which we think we are the first horizontal classifieds marketplace to do so.
Who are your competitors?And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rafael R. López: Our main competitor in Spain is milanuncios. We know is is a David-Golliat fight, but we are confident that through innovation tablondeanuncios can stand up to a multinational like milanuncios which recently announced the buying/merge of eBay Classifieds.
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