While I was in Dubai, I got a chance to meet up with Abdulaziz one of the Directors of an online Islamic fashion clothing business Aara Online, we discussed various trends of the online fashion industry in the Middle East and Europe.
I have managed to catch up with them for lunch where we got an insight of how to setup a successful online clothing business from scratch.
How did you come across the name Aara, its surely something different and what does it mean?
Choosing the right name for a business is very important. As we are dealing with Islamic products, we didn’t want to sound too typical so we searched for a name that is eye-catching and easy to remember and we came across Aara which means Adorable in Persian and which also reflects our products.
I’ve known you for a while now, and there’s been a lot of planning that’s gone into setting up your online business, I believe was it almost a year of planning, tell me what was it that you were planning, and what did you do prior to setting up your business.
I had a factory which specialized in Ladies clothing. During the last few years the demand for manufacturing Ladies clothing in the UK was in decline especially with established UK brands getting their clothes manufactured abroad and so I looked in to various other avenues which were still connected to clothing and fashion and so I came across Muslim wear and found this market has a strong demand in the UK and I immediately thought I could definitely add to this growing market.
With the help of my business partner Mohammed we started researching this market further and found some areas where we could be different to the rest of the businesses that already do Muslim wear.
And here we are established since 2009 and doing well.
What made you decide that you only wanted to have an online e-commerce site and not to start with a retail shop?
I still remember the ridiculous hours I used to put in daily working in my factory. Even though it was very rewarding financially, I had no social life at all and this is what I wanted to change. I couldn’t bear the thought of standing in a shop all day so I made my mind up trading online only and supplying Islamic shops with our products. Nowadays I have so much free time I could never had imagined.
Its been about 2 years now since you launched Aara, what have you learnt in business over these two years, and what would you do differently?
You have got to have patience with a business to work out even more so with an online business so the key is give it time. The only thing I would probably do differently is spend a lot more on advertising at the start.
In the early days how did you market your business?
Initially we advertised in targeted areas with leaflets and advertised on popular search engines, using Pay Per Click campaigns.
How did this go?
The response was okay but not great.
Being a solely online business, could you please share some online marketing tips that you would advise others too look into and also what to avoid.
Online marketing is the most important for an online business. The best way of marketing online is search engine optimization and we feel your SEO is working for us.
What was your experience in choosing the right development firm to build your online store, you have had couple of other developers prior to coming across my company Alrayes Web Solutions.
There are many web developers out there and I found that they do not offer the one to one service they advertise in developing a website. It is important to have a relationship with a web developer who really understands your needs and implements what you want on your website. This is where Alrayes is different. You guys offer a unique service that makes a business comfortable with and you provide total peace of mind.
Are you planning to setup any stores in the future, or are you just going to focus online.
At the moment we trade online but who knows…
When setting up a business online, what should one look for and take into consideration?
Every business has a website even if they do not trade online, so it is good practice to research testimonials that you offer on your website and see what works for various businesses and work on what you can do differently.
When choosing suppliers for your business, what exercise did you carry out, and what would you do differently.
Shopping around for the best deal for your product is the basics in business so this is imperative before you start a business.
What would you say is the key to keeping your suppliers and also customers happy in your online business?
You need to have a good relationship with suppliers so keep them happy by paying them on time!! With customers you need to offer them quality products, deliver on your promises and provide outstanding customer service to make them come back to you every time.