Luis Serra, manager of FamiliaSerra and LaMejorNaranja

"With online sales, our whole family can make a living from oranges"

"Since we started the orange campaign a few days ago, the number of online orders has grown tremendously. Consumers were waiting impatiently for the arrival of our oranges," explains Luis Serra, manager of FamiliaSerra.eu and LaMejorNaranja.com, one of Spain's first websites devoted to citrus fruits sales.


Luis Serra, with his father.

"Practically all our tasks are carried out manually. We harvest the fruit when we receive an order and the product is at its prime in terms of ripeness, and we pack it in boxes without it going through chemical treatments or cold storage. We only have a small sorting machine to make sure that all oranges inside each box have a uniform size," affirms Luis Serra, who adds that consumers who buy through the internet are very demanding. "The orders are fully personalised and there lies our strength in being able to stand out from the competition."
 
In the year 2000, when the Internet was starting to gain strength and more and more types of articles were being sold online, the Serra family, which has always been devoted to agriculture, thought it might be a good idea to sell also their oranges like this and abandon the sale of goods to warehouses, with which they hardly obtained any profit margins.

Back then, the high cost of transportation for this type of shipment was the main obstacle. "Thanks to my father's insistence, and after two years of talks with transport agencies, we were able to achieve reasonable logistical costs for the shipping of our products and we opened our first website in 2002 after an extremely small investment," recalls Luis Serra.

According to Luis, the growth was amazing during the first few years, given the difference in taste and quality of the citrus, as the fruit was being shipped directly after being picked from the tree, and the additional comfort of receiving the order at home. "In the first eight years, the company doubled its sales from one year to the next."

"But with the start of the recession 6 years ago, we recorded a significant drop in our sales, since at that time there were already many other websites selling oranges at very aggressive prices in order to attract customers. The main challenge today is to attract visitors to your website, since there are currently so many. In recent years, we have managed to recover sales and this year we have even recorded a small growth. We haven't increased our prices for six years."

The selling price is always the same, no matter what happens in the market. "We calculate the production, handling, packaging and transport costs and we get an average that gives us reasonable margins."



"Although it is becoming increasingly difficult to get new customers, we are not replacing this business model with sales to private packing plants or cooperatives." In Valencia, many people own citrus fields, in many cases inherited from their parents. In Valencia, most people have small plantations, so they need to combine that with other activities in order to make a living. With our marketing model, our whole family can make a living from oranges. If we sold to warehouses, we would have to abandon the citrus business." 


 
While LaMejorNaranja.com started selling only oranges and clementines, it now has a wider range of products. "We transformed some orange plantations for the cultivation of lemons, given the growing demand, and now we also sell mangoes, cherries and tomatoes from other producers with whom we have reached agreements to supply their products to our customers. Those growers also ship their fruits to the customers' homes directly from their fields."


 
LaMejorNaranja has reached a strong position in this sector thanks to being one of the first to start selling oranges online, even though, according to Luis Serra, growth is slower overseas. "We have shipped to 14 countries, although we mainly sell to France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. We want to expand in the rest of Europe. We have organised tastings in Germany and the reactions have been very positive. Recently, we have just signed an agreement with UPS with which we can get the orders to arrive within 48 hours to several countries in Europe. From the tree to your home in just two days!"



For more information:
Luís Serra
FamiliaSerra.eu
LaMejorNaranja.com

T: +34 962978556
luis.serra@lamejornaranja.com



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