Viamadeinitaly, The right way

Marco Mutto Tommaso Zanin Marco Reiter viamedeinitaly
Great projects are often born from simple ideas which carry within them the scope of a revolution. And it’s a small revolution that Viamadeinitaly – a B2B digital platform for Italian manufacturers of footwear, leather goods, clothing and fashion accessories – has given life to. Bringing the excellence of Italian craftsmanship to every corner of the world, literally: here is the revolution.

A project that started a year and a half ago and which can already count on the participation of over 120 Italian companies. A significant birthplace – Padua, a stone’s throw from Riviera del Brenta – and an aspiration to think big: we talked to Tommaso Zanin, one of the three founding partners, and he told us about the adventure of Viamadeinitaly and his recipe to take the Italian footwear and tanning industry into the future.

How was Viamadeinitaly born?

The idea of Viamadeinitaly was born from the experience of one of our founding partners, Marco Reiter, who completed his training at Bocconi ten years ago with the formulation of a business plan that would give rise to a company, Scarosso, whose purpose was to sell made in Italy shoes in Austria and Germany. Marco immediately experienced the need to physically go to the territory to choose the right shoe factory for the production: the online search had been a bloodbath, companies didn’t have a web presence, they weren’t digitized and sometimes not even indexed… They were digital ghosts. Our project is therefore born from an entrepreneurial but also romantic idea: we want to involve companies with a heritage at risk of being lost. Companies that live off their product but that cannot communicate, which find themselves in the need to find customers outside national borders but that don’t know how to do it. We said to ourselves: there’s space for us to create a truly useful service.

How do you position yourself with respect to the major trade fairs?

We see ourselves as a kind of extension of the trade fair table. People love to go to fairs and that won’t change; but companies need a tool that, once the spotlights of the fair are turned off, will lead them by the hand to collect other orders. We are a cutting-edge tool whose purpose is to generate B2B contacts and we work alongside traditional sales tools.

What is the main difficulty that you have encountered?

The artisans’ mentality: they are unable to approach a digitization of their products. They are often afraid that going online will involve the risk of being copied. We clash with the fear of the internet, with the typical “we have always done this way”. For our part, we put a lot of patience and do a lot of awareness work. The best way to convince them is always the example: to show customers that after a month on the platform they have already started selling.

Which companies do you turn to?

The selection takes place by product and, obviously, by company size. We target small and medium-sized businesses, which often aren’t equipped to cope with a digital approach to the market. We prefer those companies that can offer us certifications regarding Made in Italy, and when possible we go and visit them directly.

Which markets are responding best?

United States, UK and Germany are the countries that perform best in terms of traffic, interaction and actual purchases. This is the podium, but we work with the whole world, focusing on the countries where we sell best. Russia and China stand on the sidelines, so to speak, when we are ready in terms of communication strategy – which for those countries is completely different – we will also open up to them.

What do you offer to companies besides international visibility?

Those who choose to collaborate with us find a super easy interface and an instant messaging service that allows them to get in touch directly with interested buyers. Companies can also view a series of statistics relating to the performance of their profile on the platform: they can thus see if a product is overperforming, and adapt the commercial strategy accordingly. We have recently decided to provide companies with a project manager who interfaces with the needs of buyers and producers in order to create a concrete business opportunity. We have tried to dress a digital service as “human”, this is much appreciated by SMEs, who know that they can talk to us, text us, that if they send us a box with their shoes we will photograph them… We are not an abstract entity.