Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I ́m Manuel Mas and I run with my family Mundoalfombra.com since the year 2001, where we sell rugs and carpets, most of them created in our town in Spain: Crevillent (near Alicante). My brother Antonio is our CEO.
We sell mostly in Spain, but sometimes some international orders arrive and we are happy to serve them. :)
We sell all types of rugs and carpets for home and professional use. Think in all forms and sizes, also materials: natural fibers, leather, wool, acrylics, etc… and you ́ll have the perfect rug for your needs available in our store. Also, we are specialists in doormats and custom-sized rugs. The lack of specialized online stores in custom-sized rugs made our web reference in Spain for these needs.
We’ve been growing by 20% since the beginning of this decade thanks to SEO, Google Ads, and Facebook and Instagram ads, making around $23K/month revenue.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My father has a big background in manufacturing rugs because he worked from 12 years old till now on this industry in Crevillent, so he knows the product, the processes, the suppliers and the people who run this business in our town of 27,000 inhabitants.
I studied computer engineering in the early 2000s and loved the online world. I knew then that the near-future of commerce will be the World Wide Web and eCommerce will be exploding in the next few years. I remember my first orders on Amazon.com from Spain or eBay in the first years… books and other products traveling about several weeks till arriving home…
So the fusion of the Internet and the rug world was clear, then Mundoalfombra.com was created. The experts in rugs and carpets arrived in the online world. Products manufactured in the same town with direct serving, great quality, short delivery times in Spain and Portugal, good prices, exceptional customer support and good relationship with suppliers. The experience in the offline world was shipped to online with a new company. From the old grand-grandfather ́s company experience, born in 1890, to a new opening, and from natural fiber rugs to hundreds of different models and fibers.
With a low-cost ASP programmed web and patience, Mundoalfombra.com turned into the number one of rugs sellers in Spain. Well, we were the only one and first at the beginning but competitors came with the years to occupy the Google pages, where we gained most of our traffic, but here we are now, nearly 20 years later competing with great companies like Amazon, Zara Home or Ikea.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Our products are developed and manufactured mostly in Crevillent, where 90% of Spanish rugs and carpets are made. Also, there's a little part of our catalog filled with international suppliers’ products, especially with some fibers like bamboo or coconut fiber.
If you need to choose the very best option to retain customers go for Great Customer Service.
Our first years we worked the easy way, an internet-local-dropshipping-store of rugs, with some easy way to personalize a pair of products and no more. Our first years were inside a little space in our country-house preparing every order with a lot of love and care.
Now, years later, we have our own warehouse and polished process in order to reduce product returns to zero and have great packaging to protect the product.
Describe the process of launching the business.
It took only weeks to gain the first online visitors because marketing was easy in the beginning: only we could appear in some offline magazines and a pair of local news sites. Also, some phone calls to home designers, architects, old contacts from other companies made possible some good orders.
Then, Google appeared and Google Adwords helped to spread our products, putting them in front of our future clients. Our SEO was great, but without knowing it, and we were the only eCommerce that sold carpets and rugs online in Spain at that time. No big stores, no big retailers… only us and a pair of multi-stores.
Our business was always run with bootstrapped, with no external funding or loans. All the money was reinvested in new improvements, machinery or accessories to complete all products. And then, year by year our daily dedication was growing.
Our first web version was made in Microsoft's ASP language and, guess what, it was optimized for Internet Explorer at 800x600 pixels! Here you have a nice Archive.org Wayback Machine capture from those times.
As you can see, we developed good UX practices as the search filter or important categories featured at home. Remember this was 2001.
Also in 2009, we made a big change to Prestashop CMS, which we have been using since then. Here is Mundoalfombra at those times:
At that time, we learned that being the first and communicate it, was so important and made us take place where we are now. Also to bring new models, create new ways to buy rugs and carpets, offer different options to business, freelancers, architects, etc… and always, and I ́ll say also forever, give the BEST customer service and attention.
From time to time, it is interesting to develop some easy, cheap products to gain leads and attraction from other users and channels, like social media. In 2017 we prepared this doormat with famous words of a Spanish famous gossip woman.
It was sold by hundreds, retweeted and liked by thousands on our social media channels, and also bought by some famous who wanted to share them on their social profiles. This made Mundoalfombra appear in a lot of possible future customers.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our big efforts have been developed on SEO and Google Ads, those are the channels that work better for us from the beginning. Also investing in social media or other channels is very important, but our Google presence is optimized and that traffic costs less for us every year.
Semrush shows these stats for the last years:
Why spend a lot of money at the top of the funnel if you can optimize your presence close to the bottom? People are more likely to buy your products when they have an interest and search for what you sell so, attack them at that point with your best ammunition :)
Also, we use retargeting to bring visitors back to our web when they visited and didn't buy, using social media ads (Facebook, Instagram) and Criteo. We also tested affiliation platforms but it didn't work as we thought.
Maybe you are an expert in what you are selling, but most people don ́t, so they will have fears or distrusts with your shop or products, especially when they know nothing about you. So be close to them, keep communication channels open and be ready to advise and guide them to the best option.
But if I need to choose the very best option to retain customers is Great Customer Service. Among many other things you are thinking right now, you need to help your future and present customers for an easy reason: they can ́t be in front of you, they need to trust you and feel comfortable buying your carpet from some hundreds of km. away.
And if you thought about Amazon, sorry but no. We have no plans because of costs and commissions, and also international competitors that have better conditions in product prices and taxes. And with Amazon you know they have no problem with skipping the supply chain and go directly to the manufacturer when a product sells very well… so… Laughs today, tears tomorrow.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are profitable since the first year, and growing about 15% every year since last 5.
We have a good brand and consideration here in Spain, and not only home users but professionals check our products and work with us. Think of hotels, architects, decorators, merchandising firms, etc…
Now, wool, natural fibers, acrylic, leather, vinyl… they are all in our catalog and choosing is easier now more than ever.
Our products are made to last, so that's a problem for recurring customer rates (only a few years by year). But it’s something nice to meet an old client that tells us his happiness and the willingness to buy another different rug.
Our future plans are based on internationalization, primarily Europe and later probably America, but when you work with big boxes and products like us, international logistics becomes difficult sometimes. Also, our goals are set to become and maintain Mundoalfombra as a reference and expert in Spain to buy carpets and rugs, above other important multi-brands shops or marketplaces.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Our beginnings were difficult, but for a good reason: eCommerce was hard in those days, remember that was the early 2000s when we began to sell over the net. That made the business grow nothing the first years but we gained a lot of experience. Also, our brand got recognition and olderness, so that become in good points versus new challengers, something that made us grow a lot in the next few years, thanks to our brand and SEO efforts.
All the road till today has been continuous learning in sales, human resources, logistics, marketing, IT, software or even office situation decisions. We came from 2 half-day-dedication people to 6 right now and some important half-dedicated-to-us suppliers.
It has been very important to us to have inside the team some different work profiles: our father as a product expert, my brothers as experts in sales, accounting and design, and me as the technician and marketer. That's the point: complement each other to take forward a complex business like this.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- Seth Godin: The Purple Cow, Linchpin
- Jason Fried: ReWork
- Also Fernando Macia and his SEO books, Guy Kawasaki, Tim Ferris… I've made such a good library these 20 years. ;)
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Always remember this: Maybe you are an expert in what you are selling, but most people don ́t, so they will have fears or distrusts with your shop or products, especially when they know nothing about you. So be close to them, keep communication channels open and be ready to advise and guide them to the best option.
A lot of entrepreneurs fail with product choices, that's why I recommend begin always with a near-by product, something local or with close suppliers. Costs will be less and probably logistics problems will go near zero.
Also, take controlled risks, now it's easier to test and fail cheaper than ever. Online services and tools make you ready to launch with a few bucks, so go and test, sell and take feedback, probably you are nearer than you think to success.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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