Home-grown brand Coveti established by Emirati entrepreneur Heba Al Fazari is a marketplace for niche, cool and independent fashion brands from across the globe. “We enable these brands with the right technology to get online, offering them market access. We provide them access to the world through Coveti, enabling people to shop for these brands from anywhere in the world,” she explains.
Coveti was launched in May 2018 and there are over 112 brands available on the platform, with a total of 4,953 SKUs. “This is increasing 10-fold every week,” Al Fazari reveals. “We work with the brands on a commission basis, which is sustainable as these are niche brands. We don’t charge them any fee to be present on Coveti while opening them up to the world. So far, we have delivered not only in the UAE and Saudi Arabia but also to Frankfurt in Germany; Melbourne and Sydney in Australia; and California in the US.”
“For this reason, we are seeing significant interest from the local designer community to partner with us. Our knowledge of free trade agreements and global sourcing, we can bring their cost down. It helps them to achieve economies of scale to be able to produce cost-effectively. After all, it is difficult to operate in markets like the UAE, where costs are high despite government support,” she adds.
Currently, there are two local designers, one each from Oman and the UAE, present on Coveti, but the number is set to grow. “We are very picky about our partnerships, choosing only those that add value to our platform. It is quite challenging to find the right talent for the platform. Similarly, we are also very selective about finding the right investor who will help us to grow the business, going beyond the money. Unlike a decade ago, it is now easier to find funding. There is enough investor confidence in local, home-grown brands after success stories emanating from the region – acquisition of Careem by Uber and SOUQ by Amazon. So, the money is available; it is more about finding the right money for the right start-up to grow in the right direction,” feels Al Fazari.
Offering a blended shopping experience
Although Coveti is an online platform, it offers an omnichannel shopping experience. In segments like fashion and homeware, people still seek a touch-and-feel experience. Al Fazari acknowledged this need and decided to organise pop-ups ever since the early days of the brand launch.
“These pop-ups have enhanced the discovery journey between customers and the brands. Think about it – Amazon has opened bookshops in the US. Even Itsy does pop-ups. That’s because unlike categories such as electronics, the shopping journey for fashion and homeware may begin online, but consumers seek a blended experience. They might like a dress online but may want to know more about the dress and even the brand story before making a purchase. That’s where the pop-up format is highly beneficial, and Coveti has successfully collaborated with certain offline retailers.”
According to her, such collaborations are complementary as opposed to competitive. “We have created a win-win proposition for each other,” she emphasises. “These pop-ups increased footfall for the offline partner, while we created better brand awareness.”
Coveti is planning to organise more pop-ups in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. What makes these pop-ups unique is its cross-segment nature. Three Coveti pop-ups were organised at a Cantonese cuisine restaurant Hakkasan at The Avenues, inside Atlantis, The Palm.
“This was an experiment that we were keen to do; it was almost like a case study on how collaborations can work across different segments. Usually, we partner with traditional offline retailers in the fashion space, along with participating in different pop-up events. So, when the opportunity to showcase within Hakkasan came up, we were very excited. And the results were fabulous. The idea of a fashion night in sync with the food offering was very well-received. Importantly, the results were positive; we were able to increase the sales of a couple of brands, through booked orders and post-event sales, while increasing footfall for Hakkasan,” Al Fazari shares.
Staying with collaborations, Coveti has also tied up with technology start-ups and are in the process of forming more such partnerships.