Our brand DOE is 8 years old..
The story begins when me and my daughters were looking for sportswear for conservative ladies as they were just started to wear hijab. It was not an easy task. No suitable products were in the market, neither in the big brands nor the generic items with no brands.
As we are already manufacturers for Soccer team wear for the US market, it rang a bell that there are a very good demand for such products we started to develop a small collection and offered to few sports offline stores, the were encouraged by the concept and exhibited in their shops.. however, it was not very good as we were expecting..
we missed the direct consumer feedbacks and we believe our products were not exposed enough to the targeted clients who may enter the shop and do not even recognize the product due to poor positioning.
We then were encouraged to take one more step to sell directly to consumers, we used existing platforms for B2C in the market and we started our learning curve of the retail business. We can not say it was an easy journey, we went through very different environment and culture. We are basically manufacturers, and dealing with on to 5 pieces orders was not and is not a pleasant order for manufacturers who are more into comfort-zone with orders that lasts on the production line for weeks with no change.
Though the starting 2 years were a struggle, we insisted to continue as we believed this is the future as all expectation were leading to smaller orders, faster delivery, more flexible manufacturing and on-demand manufacturing.
We started to slowly changing our business model to adapt both our old big customers and accommodate our newly on-line store. By 2018 we were on the biggest 2 B2C selling platforms in Egypt and opened our own online store. It was very nice during our journey to reach a similar retail store in USA who was doing the same conservative sportswear for Muslims in the USA.. they are now placing regular orders with a growth rate of 20% yearly since 2016.
Our business model is changing as follows:
- We now produce our seasonal collection exclusively for our brands. And, - We are doing generic items that are basic items. Those Basic products are always in-Stock and ready for pick-up and apply the brand logo and decoration. We call it our super market. This was very welcomed by many of the smaller brands and start-ups to have many SKUs into there stores at minimum cost without having to invest huge money into stock. We offer 48 to 72 delivery for such orders with good margin. and everyone is happy…:)
- We are changing our manufacturing layout and processes to match the increasing on-demand manufacturing and making production cells instead of long production lines. As a result of the change, we are able to survive the COVID-19 era while many other giant manufacturing are suffering and on the edge of collapsing. to quantify the change, we can tell that in 2015 our production ratios was 90% for International buyers and 10% for producing our own brands. if same ratio would continue, our revenues would have been dropped by 60%. While by end of this year, our revenues from selling our own brands plus sales from our super market is about 45% of our sales and total revenue dropped only 20% due to International buyers are struggling like every body else.
Our main lessons of our online store journey are:
- Look long term and what trends are to be foreseen and imagine your position then.
- Persist and do not give up easy. You might be too close to flip into total success and by stopping you lose it.
- There are always opportunities even in the dark tough times. Do some efforts and you will be able to gain out of it.
an article By: Ayman Elbouhy