If You Sell It Online, Coffee Is More Profitable

If You Sell It Online, Coffee Is More Profitable


Convincing a small family business, anchored in tradition, to pursue new sales channels is not easy. Not even if it is your family business and the two guys asking you to are most likely to lead it in the future. And they are already looking at that future. Giovanni Cartapani, a first-year student of EMIT at Bocconi, after completing the BEMAC BSc, together with his brother Andrea, Roberto Mazzoncini, Stefano Nervi and Francesco Lazzarini (students of the University and Polytechnic of Milan), has triumphed with the "Coffee Break" team in the first edition of the Amazon Campus Challenge. This new competition was launched in Italy by Amazon to promote the skills acquired by young university students during their academic career and to support the needs of small and medium-sized Italian companies that intend approaching e-commerce.

At the center of their work was Caffè Cartapani, the small Brescia company founded by Giovanni's grandfather. "And we must not think that it was easy just because the company belongs to our family", explains Giovanni, "it is a reality that is based on very traditional principles, which have worked and given certainty for many years. But by working closely with them we understood, and they understood, that online sales are an effective tool for expanding potential customers ”.

If the first step, identifying a company and convincing it, was completed, the second consisted in understanding how the Amazon platform works, which products to sell online, how to differentiate yourself from the competition and which pricing policy to apply. That phase lasted three months and preceded the start of the actual sales, which began in February: "At the end, at the end of August, we recorded a percentage of sales abroad corresponding to 30% of turnover", he says Giovanni, “against 5% in Brescia. Before, the situation was very different, with most of the sales concentrated in Brescia or in any case in Lombardy. But, more importantly, not only has the distribution of our customers changed, we have significantly increased our turnover ”.

The five best performing teams were then summoned to present their work and answer some questions in front of a jury made up of Amazon managers and industry experts. “Why did they choose us from among everyone? Because we were the only ones to land on Amazon with new products ”, Giovanni continues,“ and because we have brought a lot of enthusiasm to the company by showing them how it is possible to conquer new markets while not moving away from tradition. Up to now, courage has mostly been lacking, something common to many small businesses. In fact, only about a hundred students, out of about 1,200 who had enrolled, managed to identify and convince a company to take this path ".

In third place a team consisting of two other Bocconians, Leonardo Donghia and Marco Rubbo, with the project for the Apulian company Centro Agrovete Puglia e Basilicata. "It was a stimulating experience, a way to concretely enter a company", explains Marco Rubbo, enrolled in the degree course in Administration, Corporate Finance and Control (in English), "me and Leonardo, who is enrolled in Finance, we started working on it as we were both on exchange, me in Canada and he in Hong Kong, and then we went on like this. The company we dealt with trades in products and medicines for the pet sector, it is a small company that until now had rarely marketed its products outside Bari and Puglia ", continues Marco. “With this project they have registered sales in France, Austria and the United Kingdom, realizing a really considerable turnover”.

The first-place team received a prize of 10 thousand euros, while the third-places finishers received 5 thousand.

by Davide Ripamonti
Translated by Richard Greenslade

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