We recently caught up with Paris and Bianca of ISawItFirst.com to chat about how ecommerce and ‘fast fashion’ are growing across the Middle East. We touch on inspirations and advice to give you an idea of what lies ahead for ecommerce in the region in our latest Entrepreneur Of The Month post.
What was the inspiration for I Saw It First?
We both had a dream of starting our own business and we one day saw a huge gap in the market for affordable fast fashion. We finally quit our jobs and jumped into the deep end using any money we had to supply our friends and colleagues with clothing and Bikinis.
Both being residents of Dubai, we also felt the lack of affordable ‘European styled’ clothing was a niche we could capture. It was on these foundations that we started to build our fashion empire.
What differentiates you from other competitors in the region?
I find that because we are so involved with our product and customers, people not only relate to what we sell, but can also relate to us personally. Everything we buy is for our type of consumer; we don’t order items just because the mainstream says they are in fashion, we buy items that we know our customers want.
We listen to our customers and even though we are growing quite quickly, we always add our personal touch to each order.
Do you feel ecommerce in the Middle East is still maturing? Are there any obstacles that are affecting I Saw It First’s growth?
Dubai is definitely still new when it comes to the concept of ‘fast fashion’ from an ecommerce company. Everything has always been so accessible at malls in this city and people have associate online retailers with 1-2 day waiting times. To combat this we offer a speedy same day express shipping option on most of our products.
Another interesting way offline commerce is progressing, in Dubai at least, is the pop up shop concept. This allows online stores to set up temporary shops and really interact with their customers; it’s a great way to expose your business to the city.
One major obstacle we are continuing to face is that for startups, there really are limited advertising options. The gap between simple online ads and traditional advertising is a big one.
What role has social media played in growing your business?
Social media really has played a critical role in growing I saw it first. From day one, we relied on Instagram and Facebook to share our products and reach out to our customers.
How is cash on delivery affecting your business? Is it a useful tool for completing sales?
We have received great feedback regarding our cash on delivery option. It could become tricky as we grow but we feel we have a great system in place. We maintain a very close relationship with our logistics company and it lets us confidently provide the service to our customers.
What advice would you give to new startups in the region?
We would say, If you are about to start company in the region, make sure you have a solid plan and be prepared to work towards results you want. The region has many unexpected rules and regulations that you’ll need to follow and some of them aren’t obvious when you’re just starting out.
It is great to have a mentor to guide you through all the boring paperwork but it is like any business, as long as you have passion and drive you can take on any obstacle.
Have a question for Paris or Bianca? Be sure to leave a comment or reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . And if you haven’t already be sure to check out their Instagram for the latest trends.