2020 has clearly changed the habits of French consumers, especially related to e-commerce. In this context we decided to take a closer look at this booming sector by interviewing Romain Gonzalez, co-founder of the Kiwik studio, a web agency specialising in e-commerce and Prestashop.
Hello Romain, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Romain Gonzalez, I am 36 years old and I am the co-founder and director of Kiwik an e-commerce agency, founded in 2011. I am also the co-founder of K-Pulse (traffic acquisition and strategy agency) and Krea'lab (Wordpress agency) and therefore an entrepreneur at heart :)
What has been your career path?
Soon after graduating from university in Computer Science, I quickly started working as a developer in IT for a short period of time. I then joined a large web agency where I worked in different positions for 7 years.
Can you tell us a bit more about Kiwik?
At Kiwik we are e-commerce experts. We can manage the entire process of creating an e-commerce project from scratch by providing a tailor-made solution.
Our main services:
- Creation and redesign of e-commerce sites,
- version upgrade,
- specific developments,
- development of modules / gateways
- training, support and maintenance
Kiwik was born out of an observation linked to our past work experiences:
David Gurfinkel (co-founder of Kiwik) managed the Studio (= production unit for all web projects), and I managed a team of about ten people dedicated to e-commerce projects. The strategy of our former company was primarily to get a lot of clients and manage several projects simultaneously. After a while, we had both seen everything our former jobs had to offer and we had a strong desire to start our own business. We had complementary profiles (while David has a more commercial background and I have a more technical one) and we got along really well at work (without being best friends).
How did you decide to specialise in e-commerce solutions?
We realised that there was a real need for e-commerce founders to be supported and helped in creating their project, a very promising niche.
For my part, I had acquired expertise in e-commerce and technical expertise in Prestashop (we were quite well known by the platform as we were one of the first agencies to have deployed the most Prestashop e-commerces).
We therefore decided to position Kiwik as the e-commerce expert and especially on Prestashop. Very quickly, we got certified by Prestashop, which gave us added visibility :)
How many are you in the team today? And what is it like to work at Kiwik?
Today, Kiwik is made up of about ten people divided as follows:
• David manages the business development (for the 3 entities Kiwik, K-Pulse and Krea'lab).
• On my side, I manage the Kiwik group, the teams and some big projects.
The Studio is then organised by teams:
• Webdesign team = 2 persons
• Integration team (mobile UX, responsive) = 2 persons
• Support team (maintenance, support, advice) = 2 persons
• Development team (specific developments, modules) = 4 persons
You explained that the studio is specialised in Prestashop, can you share its advantages? And the reason for this specialisation?
The reason for this specialisation is first of all related to our experience. Prestashop convinced us by its ease of use for retailers and the strength of its ecosystem (communities, modules, partnerships with the main French e-commerce players).
Prestashop is also a very dynamic company which was also reassuring (an international platform, multi-shop) and they could send our way quite a few leads.
It is also a French e-commerce solution.
What's your idea of a good e-commerce website? What makes a good customer experience?
This is changing very quickly, what was true 10 years ago isn't anymore:
- Today, I would say that the priority is to have a flawless UX on mobile and desktop, to be "reassuring" while applying the guidelines to sell online
- and also to have a performing website (both for Google and in terms of page loading speed)
Who are your customers?
We have all types of customers:
- Ambitious project leaders, pure players or physical shops.
- From SMEs to medium/large companies, B2B, B2C or both.
One of our clients just got listed on the stock market (kumulusvape.fr).
I would say that we now have great experience and references in cosmetics and high-end fashion.
In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the repeated lockdowns in France in 2020, have you seen an increase in the demand for creating an e-commerce?
Of course, given the context, we have seen an increase in requests: those least familiar with selling online have become aware of its importance. An e-commerce has now become an essential tool for their business.
As a result, we have more requests, but we can't respond to all of them. We prefer to support our clients first and foremost in the best possible conditions.
However, we are going to have to hire new recruits very soon :)
What can small businesses do to compete with the big e-commerce platforms?
There are a number of solutions! They must use the web and e-commerce as the continuity of their physical shop.
Maintaining customer relations and proximity (social media is great for this).
Of course, you have to reinvent yourself, define your business and create new ways to sell (click&collect, video sales...).
You can't expect everything from the government.
We must also fight for a change in consumer habits and accept to live alongside e-commerce giants and not necessarily "against" them.
Do you have any news or message you would like to share with us?
Yes, I would like to share some good news.
We are currently helping an Orleans retailer with their e-commerce project (website: www.kozze.fr) who, unfortunately, opened their physical shop 1 week before lockdown. This project is very special to us as it conveys beautiful values.
Their e-commerce website was planned to open at the beginning of 2021 but with the context, we had to adapt and be more flexible in order to quickly launch a first version of the website to help this company. Don't hesitate to buy local goods and continue to support your local shops. Ask for information, call. Most of them have done things for you to continue to buy from them during lockdown, so please support them.
What advice would you give to our Wilders (developers, data analysts or cyber security analysts) who wish to specialise in e-commerce?
Be curious, keep an eye out on how technology and habits evolve.
First, be interested in the basics (the most common programming languages - PHP, CSS, HTML, JS) and also in Symfony which is the technical basis of many CMSs (Drupal, PrestaShop)
An internship in a web agency is obviously a great way to improve your skills :)
You can also do DIY work by opening a e-shop for someone close to you. Whatever the technology, it’s a great way to learn new things :)
Thank you very much Romain and we wish the Kiwik team all the best!
Click here, to discover our short training programmes to work in the web industry :)