MICAM Milano Some post-event feedback

At the end of February, we had the opportunity of making our mark at an exceptional event, the 95th MICAM Milano, which is the footwear industry’s leading international trade fair. Our representative there was business developer Magdalena ‘Magda’ Lewandowska, who has been with us since January this year. She talked to Insights, giving us an overview of her time at the event. We also asked her about what interests the southern European markets, their potential and her upcoming business trips. Read on to find out what she had to say!

Magda, tell us why you chose the IT sector? What area of business were you in before you came to MakoLab?

I obtained my previous experience working as a business development manager and project manager in a range of fields; the fashion industry, the beauty sector, food and drink, interior design and e-commerce.
While I was still at university, I started working with the Łódź Economic Zone, creating translations into Italian for companies like Indesit, Bosch and Cassioli. One fascinating thing was the work I did for a honey producer, a Polish company and the largest of its kind in Europe. I was responsible for supervising quality and exports for the European market. I also gained valuable experience and an interest in new technologies at Hewlett-Packard.
The companies I went on to work for included major groups in the fashion and interior design industries, where my main task was selecting brands and growing sales on specific markets. I’m familiar with working in marketing, too, creating presentations, sales materials and everything needed to support a business.

Where does the IT sector and the southern European market fit into all that?

As I said, I’m interested in new technologies, in the potential for using them and in the development of IT services. It’s a sphere I want to learn about and spread my wings in. MakoLab is a chance for me not only to acquire new skills, but also to be a support and let my experience serve in working with southern European clients.
Italy and Spain have incredible potential, but they need support and advice in terms of technological development. Mind you, there are plenty of regions that are thriving as far as that’s concerned, like Trento and Veneto, for instance. One characteristic of southern Europe is relationships with others. Any number of manufacturers have distributors who are responsible for selling their goods and, if they don’t have that, then they’ve been looking for it. But now they’re beginning to feel the need to sell independently, to develop their brands and brand recognition on the Internet. They want to build brand awareness, invest in their own online stores and have full control over their conditions of sale.
All over the world, the Italians are associated with high-quality products, particularly when it comes to fashion, footwear and beauty. It’s a large, really interesting market with a potential that we’ve identified. Our offering in the field of e-commerce fits perfectly with the needs of the southern European markets.

Coming back to MICAM, why did you suggest MakoLab took part in that event? What goals did you set yourself?

I’ve already touched on that a bit, but now I’ll expand on it. The fashion and beauty industries, particularly in southern Italy, are ready for change. Until now, designers and manufacturers have been happy to use the network of distributors with international sales platforms, like Zalando, for example. Now they’re discovering the potential locked into having their own online stores, giving them the capability of influencing their directions of growth and selling under their own terms and conditions. Of course, a lot of the companies I’ve encountered have their own e-commerce setup, but it’s always worth pointing to alternative possibilities. The Italians and Spanish really aren’t all that aware of just how excellent an engine Shopware 6 is.
My aim was to meet up with decision-makers who are either a company’s owner or whose day-to-day responsibility is growing the e-commerce in the firm they work for. I wanted to explore their needs and tailor what MakoLab has to offer in response to them. A good e-commerce engine is by no means everything. We can provide the comprehensive deployment of online stores, along with their support and maintenance by way of services like search engine optimisation, user experience and web analytics. The people I talked to were really interested in all of that and very keen to hear about the potential for positioning their websites. Another thing that caught their attention in particular was the fact that our staff includes all the experts needed to deploy an online store, which certainly isn’t common, especially on that market.

Tell us something about your days at MICAM. What were they like?

Busy, busy, busy! And effective. I showcased our offering and the technological advantages inherent to it at more than sixty meetings. Because I’m not a stranger to that market and I’d been to MICAM and MIPEL before , I was able to plan which stands were worth visiting. I didn’t only select Italian and Spanish companies. I also went for German ones, knowing that they’re more familiar with Shopware. More than once, I was the first person to mention that support for Shopware 5 is coming to an end soon and that thought needs to be given to migration or replatforming now.
I visited large brands which have the funds for development, but I certainly didn’t ignore smaller brands with good prospects but currently using distributor networks and marketplaces.
After two days in Milan, I headed off to a meeting with a client at their HQ. All I’m going to say right now is that it’s a cosmetics manufacturer which also exports its products using the white-label model. They’re no longer happy with the system they’ve been using so far. It’s blocking their sales potential. What we can offer them, particularly our additional services, really captured their interest and we’ve already given our first post-event presentation.

How did the other people you talked to react to our offering?

With interest! They wanted to hear about, and talk about, the competitiveness of Shopware 6 in comparison with other engines. Apart from that, they were happy to discuss their sales needs and they let me tell them about the possibilities and directions for growth right there and then. They were impressed by the fact that we have the skill sets and experts not only to deal with building or migrating an online store, but also to look after search engine optimisation, user experience and so on. It’s a major advantage.

Did anything surprise you or catch your interest in particular?

In southern Europe, marketing is tightly bound up with social media. They like selling on it and see potential in it the whole time. When I started talking to them about how their own website could make sales, about how to make that happen and about why it’s worth it, they were very ready to listen. It came as something completely new to some of them and extended the knowledge of others.
An interesting e-commerce exhibitor turned up at MICAM this year. It’s called Mirta and it’s a sales and despatch platform that brings Italian, Spanish and French brands together. There wasn’t anything like it on the market and that’s a good sign as far as we’re concerned. It means that they’re ready and willing to sell on their own account, reducing the network of distributors and foreign platforms.
I didn’t have much time to explore what’s trending, but one thing that came through loud and clear this year is eco-friendliness. Interesting, natural raw materials are being used more and more often to manufacture footwear, bags and clothes, so there were plenty of shoes made using bamboo or pineapple! Designers are definitely going for comfort. Comfort is where fashion’s heading, because it stands for saving time and having a better impact on the environment.

Would you say that your trip was a success?

It was busy. Was it a success? That’s something the next few months should show us. As I said earlier, initial talks are already in progress, but we’ll have to wait for the results. I’m happy with the way my meetings went and with the contacts I managed to set up. It was certainly worth going, because the fashion industry is developing dynamically and its needs are growing and what MakoLab has to offer is something the sector requires.

When’s your next trip?

I’m off to Bologna on 15th March. This time, it’s for Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna, an international trade fair for beauty industry professionals, and I’m setting out to do what I did at MICAM. In other words, talk to people, find out what the manufacturers need and what challenges they’re facing and then tailor our offering accordingly. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Before we finish, could you tell us one more thing? How did it start? Why Italy?

My fascination with that region began when I was still a child. When I was around nine or ten, I used to go on holiday to family living in Ticino, one of Switzerland’s Italian-speaking cantons. I had to learn Italian… and I wanted to! From a phrasebook to start with, so as to be able to get along with the children I met there. Then I started having private lessons and doing courses. After that, I studied Italian at university. I think highly of Italy and the Italians; I like their values, their culture and their openness. And I’m happy that I can live that interest of mine as part of my professional life.

8th March 2023
8 min. read

Aleksandra Wesołowska

Marketing Specialist


Read more Insights