Drogueria Barcelona is preparing for its leap to ‘e-commerce’ through “Open to the Future” courses
Marcel Simó, a third-generation owner of the Sant Andreu household goods shop, “Drogueria Barcelona”, is one of the most dedicated retailers when it comes to attending the training courses organised by the City Council’s Department of Commerce, in collaboration with the local development agency Barcelona Activa, for learning how to use new information and communication technologies applied to commerce.
In addition to acting on his own initiative for improving his shop’s digital environment, he makes the most of the courses organised through the “Open to the Future” programme aimed at improving professional and digital skills for local commerce and services. Registration is currently open for places on the new courses. Check out the training sessions on offer under "Open to the Future".
Marcel attends classes at the Cibernàrium in Nou Barris and at Barcelona Activa’s headquarters, in addition to the workshops that are held at the Nou Barris and Sant Andreu district offices, the Nou Barris Library and in the Ateneu Armonia (Can Fabra), an initiative designed to encourage retailers to take part in activities in near their establishments.
Marcel’s goal is for his shop to carve its niche in the digital world (and, as a result, in his neighbourhood). He is now active in Google My Business, thanks to which the popular search engine has put his business on Barcelona’s map.
He is currently immersed in learning everything required for taking the plunge and selling online. In other words: e-commerce. This month he plans to attend the course on the functionalities of YouTube, the social media video network, and has signed up for two activities in October: “How to attract customers by mobile” and “Manage your website and blog”. He has already been on training courses on how to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He started from scratch, with the most basic on internet browsing.
After he computerised his shop in 1998, managing his business took a radical turn, driven too by one of the harshest crises that ever hit the household goods and perfumes sector, with the strong growth of competitors through the appearance of big and small chains around the city. But this entrepreneur, far from remaining behind the counter, decided to look at the bright side and sign up for the activities offered by Barcelona Activa. He discovered them through an information leaflet he picked up from a counter at a Citizen Information and Help Office in the district, making the most of his visit to carry out an administrative procedure.
Some of the “Open to the Future” programme’s courses are currently being given in district offices and libraries, at convenient times for many retailers, for example, from 2 pm to 5 pm. That way he can tend to his shop in the morning and spend his afternoons learning. The only disadvantage he sees in the courses, in his opinion, is that they concentrate theory and practice in a single session and he would prefer some of the subjects, such as the use of social media to promote small businesses, to have at least one other session. So he found a solution to what he saw as a problem: he repeated some of the courses he had taken part in and raised the queries he had previously come across. He is a practical and decisive man, well known by the tutors giving the classes for his excellent motivation.
Learning led him to create his own webpage with a domain that is the envy of many businesses: drogueriabarcelona.com. He built the website, with the help of professionals, on the WordPress platform, while adapting it to his needs and continuing to study how to get the most out of it. He opened his blog there as well, along with his own social media profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. (So far he hasn’t posted any videos, as he is still thinking about what should be the first thing he publishes and what it should be like). As he learns about e-commerce and the features he has to install on his website for online selling, he is selling through eBay and distributing his products to his customers using the service offered by the Post Office.
Marcel has absolutely everything in his shop, “Drogueria Barcelona”, also known locally as ”La Reforma”: household goods, chemical products, perfumes, some no longer in any catalogue and only available through him, and brands which are usually hard to find anywhere else. He calls them “vintage”, products that have been around for donkey’s years but which vanished from the shelves of some shops a while back, despite still being in demand. “La Reforma” owes its name to the urban development that was carried out decades ago along C/ Gran de Sant Andreu, where the first shop was located. The passage of time and, above all, transformation of the sector led to the conversion of the warehouse on C/ Sant Mateu, next to C/ Gran, into the shop. It is not the best place, as Marcel admits, for raising the profile of an establishment, but it is for that very reason that he turned to the digital world for help.