Pakistan’s e-commerce industry has seen quite a boom recently where people are now opening up to the idea of buying and selling products online.
E-commerce stores are popping up like mushrooms in the country but just like the fungi, not everyone can manage to sustain and grow to become the top choice for the consumer. One of such cases is Maya’s Closet which is a successfully run small company and one-stop-shop for dressing and accessorizing your baby.
The online baby store was founded around four years ago by Altamash and Sabeen when they realized that there were no toys, clothes, and accessories specially designed for babies and if any store was offering them, they were placing quite exorbitant prices on the items. Also, a few online stores that offered baby products demanded a 50% advanced payment from the customers whereas they took around a month to get them delivered to the customers.
These revelations built up to become an idea for their startup that was named after their newborn daughter Maya. They realized that there was an opportunity gap in the Pakistani e-commerce industry and so Maya’s Closet came to life.
While talking to MORE, Altamash revealed that their business revolves around the sale of baby products that are always available in stock where the delivery standard has been set as three days with the option of cash on delivery and online money transfer. The startup took its first steps when Sabeen created a Facebook page for Maya’s Closet, and now it has its proper e-commerce website.
How Maya’s Closet Became a Success
Creating an e-commerce portal doesn’t promise overnight success instead one has to patiently align their marketing and operations strategy in a way that it reaches the right audience.
Initially, their company only received 15, 20, or 30 orders per month where the two founders treated their company as startups and self-funded their entire idea. They still remember their first customer who belonged to Kashmir and still puts is a loyal customer.
Before founding this startup, Sabeen used to work in the hospitality industry and was employed at Al-Jumeira in Dubai. Altamash used to look after his family business but after realizing the potential of this idea, he now completely focuses his energy on Maya’s Closet and joined the company around a year ago.
Though they have only launched their websites a few weeks back, they receive 99% of their orders through Facebook which has created a stronger bond between their brand and their customers. By directly communicating with their clients, Maya’s Closet has established a good relationship that will surely have a lasting impact on their startup.
In the start, Maya’s Closet only featured baby clothes, but now they are expanding their portfolio to include toys and baby accessories. Everything featured in their store is imported where the main idea was that they would introduce in the online baby store whatever clothes they liked or deemed fit for their daughter at a price that was reasonable to them as parents. For this purpose, Altamash himself goes abroad to buy the products while coordinating with Sabeen at the same time to pick and choose the design of everything.
At the beginning of their e-commerce journey, there were around 5 to 6 online stores, but now after three years, this number has been doubled which provides a lot of choices to the consumers. But again the main differentiating point between them and Maya’s Closet is their business model that includes buying the products from various international brands and selling them at a marginally low price.
Going through the pricing phase, Maya’s Closet doesn’t like to look at or replicate their competitor’s prices as they have their standard cost model. Regardless of the cost and design, the company has priced a two-piece set around Rs. 1650, and the price for a three-piece would be Rs. 1850. They offer free delivery across Pakistan on orders of Rs. 1500 and above.
Maya’s Closet chose Blue Ex as their delivery partner as TCS was not taking e-commerce sites seriously a few years ago and still it shows little to no concern for small businesses. They do avail the services of TCS which handles around 20% of deliveries of their operations. The major benefit of using this service despite the high charges is that it can deliver in small villages and towns within two days while many other courier companies rarely reach.
Altamash said; “The major benefit of using this service despite the high charges is that it can deliver in small village and towns within two days while many other courier companies rarely reach.”
The major customer base of Maya’s Closet belongs to Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, and other small cities of Pakistan including Sialkot, Multan, etc.
THE STARTUP HAS NOW ACHIEVED THE GOLDEN NUMBER OF 10 MILLION ANNUAL SALES
The founders describe that 90% of the time they take photos of their products as compared to the other e-commerce sites which sometimes trick people by showing a different product than the original one.
Facebook reviews have also helped the online baby store create a good reputation among the consumers as if someone is unsatisfied, they will surely write a bad review about the products, but luckily they still have 4.8 ratings on their page.
Many startups in Pakistan make the mistake of not assigning a substantial marketing budget, especially online stores a practice that cannot prevail in the long term. The marketing of Maya’s Closet primarily focuses on Facebook, where they first started out with posting about their products in various groups and later changed their strategy in six months as it didn’t provide the desired results.
The online baby store focuses on the said social media site and Google to get their message across to their targeted audience and advertise on these platforms.
Maya’s Closet is a fully self-funded business but moving forward it would need extra funding to grow. In the last three years, the startup has worked on sales growth, customer base, product line, and the potential of their idea which have provided impeccable results to attract investors where any business deal would depend upon what they will offer to Maya’s Closet regarding money and value.
Currently, they are not planning to open a physical store as their aim is to target all of Pakistan and not a single place or city. The online baby store is hopeful to double its business in the coming year as they have expressed that most of the people in Pakistan have at least two kids at home, and thus there is quite a market for their product.
While talking about the other e-commerce sites in Pakistan, Altamash relayed that many major sites like Kamyu lack quality checks when it comes to their products as 99 times out of 100 the product sent to the customers was different than the one displayed on their site.
PEOPLE HAVE GIVEN BAD REVIEWS ON KAMYU SITE IN MANY FACEBOOK GROUPS
Comparatively, Daraz has a better system to check their products, but their major drawback is late deliveries to the customers. If you order something on Daraz.pk, it takes them two weeks to deliver their goods whereas Maya’s Closet delivers its products in 2-3 days. Also if you’re selling something via Daraz, it takes them 2-3 days for the vendor to pick up the product where quality checks and shipping takes more than a week.
Maya’s Closet and The Future
Moving forward one of the fears that Maya’s Closet faces are customer service as for now they oversee everything but with the expanding business they would have to hand over these areas to others.
Altamash and Sabeen care about their products and what people say about the goods that they have purchased online from them, and thus it is hard to let go of the direct connection that they have with their customer base.
The potential of the e-commerce industry is manifold in Pakistan that will continue to grow in the next 5 years. According to Altamash, if a person wants to start a small business online they should definitely go forward.
He recalled that many tried to stop him from leaving a well-flourished family business to pursue the e-commerce startup, but he has since realized that with patience and good intentions, one can easily develop a level of trust among its customers that can help them to flourish in the market.
He advised people to refrain from falling into the sinkhole of negativity and focus on developing a good business model, strategy and asking other people for feedback on their ideas which can point them in the right direction.