How was ManoMano conceived?
ManoMano is the story of two colleagues, Philippe de Chanville and myself, passionate about DIY and, above all, frustrated by an old-fashioned retail industry.
Big consumers of home improvement products, and disappointed by the lack of choice and advice, Philippe and I set out to innovate and disrupt traditional DIY shopping and retail.
Congratulations on hitting one million references and expanding into six different markets since its launch only in 2013. Any reflections?
Thank you. Well, we started in 2013 with the ambition to become one of the market leaders in France. A year later, we realised that more European countries had the same difficulty concerning digitalisation and online offers in the DIY industry. So, we launched in five other countries within 16 months.
How is ManoMano different to other ecommerce retailers?
Price, choice, advice: A very simple mantra but so different to other traditional bricks-and-mortar actors, who have several thousand expensive products with hardly any online advice.
Digital is changing the habits and the way of doing business in DIY. With the growth of mobile, we now have instant access to information, advice and the best prices and services in one click.
Describe your role and responsibilities as co-founder of ManoMano.
I head up the business development and customer service side of ManoMano. Broadly speaking, I scout out the best etailers to join our platform and help manufacturers refine their processes in order to join us – that’s anything from the supply chain log to billing processes and customer support.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before ManoMano.
I worked in finance in Paris and London from 1995 until 2005, creating several startups along the way.
The highlight of my previous experience has to be when I joined Smartbox group to manage Gault&Millau, a food guide, as it’s where I met ManoMano co-founder Philippe de Chanville.
We realised that there’s still a lot to bring to the retail sector from a tech and data standpoint, and we firmly intend to enrich retail experiences in the DIY sector.
How has your previous experience aided your current job?
Launching a startup isn’t always smooth sailing, so having experience in other startups previously was definitely a plus. My experience in finance has, above all, improved my negotiation skills, which is a vital part of my role today and has allowed me to think outside of the box and consider new and alternative models for customers and manufacturers.
How is ManoMano adapting to the challenges that faces retail at the moment?
The biggest challenge for retail is fear of the web: if retailers and manufacturers believe that ecommerce is a threat, they won’t be part of the movement and will be left behind the digital revolution and the future of retail.
We have the tools to create something completely new to address the DIY sector, which, apart from a few big actors, is lacking in digital prowess.
What are your thoughts on the UK’s DIY retail sector?
The UK generally is very web-savvy and the DIY retail sector is slightly more advanced than in some other countries, with the likes of Screwfix’s web-to-store.
However, the DIY retail sector is still not at the forefront of digital and innovation, especially in comparison with other retail sectors such as food (with Costco).
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
To be at the forefront of innovation everyday and in everything we do. It’s challenging but by far the most exciting aspect of our startup. It can sometimes be a little difficult when we are faced with manufacturers who are quite slow on the digital pick up, as there is currently a huge gap between our innovative tech and their traditional processes.
And the most rewarding?
The joint success story with my associate Philippe de Chanville in the DIY sector across Europe. Also being able to embark on this adventure with our 150 team members who, individually and collectively, have an enormous impact on the success of our startup.
Can you talk about any upcoming projects at ManoMano?
We are working on 24/7 advice and support online, in real-time, by human beings to give as much support to our customers as possible. We are also exploring the extension of our handyman service “Supermano”.
What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?
My first business tip generally would be to apply your own personal values to your business.
Creating a company with people who fundamentally share your values and vision will create a fantastic work culture.
Otherwise, business intelligence and data should be at the foundation of any retail or ecommerce venture. We always think smart data, rather than big data.