Interview with the force behind Beauty Bar – Willa Hafeez

Pakistan is full of talented youngsters who want to add value to what they do, they are determined to bring a positive change and to create awareness about what is new. Makeup is something we are all familiar with, Walla Hafeez is taking this familiarity to a whole new level with her startup – Beauty Bar.

BeautyBar is Pakistan’s premium beauty e-commerce store which offers the most comprehensive online shopping experience. BeautyBar aims to bring various premium and quality beauty brands and products to our customers.

Team MediaSrping PK had a chance to meet this talented woman of this digital age, here is what she had to say in reply to our questions:

1- Tell us something Beauty Bar and what is the idea behind the name of your company, how it all started?

Willa: I was working as a brand manager for an international cosmetic brand, a few years ago, where I was looking after the marketing of the brand. While working there the moment of realization happened when I noticed that there are many cities in Pakistan where people have money and there is demand for the international cosmetic brands, however, the access to such brands and a range of products is very limited.

That one factor really inspired me, you can say, and I wanted to come up with a solution that can bridge the gap. Hence the Beauty Bar happened in 2015. The concept behind Beauty Bar was to develop a platform that can evolve as one-stop shop for beauty products in Pakistan.

Beauty Bar is the place where all kind of beauty products are available just like a bar where a range of drinks is available.

2- Why only Beauty products, is there any particular reason behind that?

Willa: It is a very diversified and vast market now. Gone are the days when beauty products were marketed for women only. In this day and age, not only women but also men are the target audience when it comes to beauty and self-care products. Since this market is still not fully tapped and there is a huge awareness gap my plan was to fill that gap with Beauty Bar.

Makeup and beauty products are not anymore want, it is a need now.

We started with a small step of Beauty Bar the initial setup was very small one with a limited product line. However, with time we kept adding new brands and new products.

3- In Pakistan, the access of internet is very limited on top of it the number of female users is limited, how big of a challenge it is for your business line?

Willa: Interestingly with all these limitations still as of now, if we tap this limited market of females that are online the opportunity is huge. It is because the market size we get after this math is still handsome and there is a huge number of female users consuming a lot of time online.

Having said that, it is a noteworthy point that the make up market does not only caters females, there is a huge chunk of our customers who are male and buy makeup and self-care products.

4- The trust level is also a challenge in Pakistan when it comes to online shopping, we hear a lot of complaints that a buyer did not get what he or she actually ordered online. How Beauty Bar caters that issue?

Willa: We at Beauty Bar try to bridge this gap as much as possible. What we do is to provide real-time switches of the product which is available on our website which helps in making the right selection of the product. If there is still any confusion we have customer care lines and we talk to customers about their issues and provide assistance in every possible way.

We use small yet helpful tactics to retain the customer and their level of trust.

I have also used one campaign – Customer Referral Campaign – it was very simple, if you refer your friend then your friend will get a discount of 5% and you get a discount of 10%. It is basic human psyche that we do only refer someone to something when we ourselves are satisfied and trust it.

5- How do you gauge the market trends?

Willa: I was working in this field for three years before starting Beauty Bar. Therefore, I had and still have a good understanding of it. Beauty trends are same all over the world, however, these trends come to Pakistan a bit late we can say that Pakistan is one step behind.

I always try to bring trendy products and styles to our customers at the right time. Trends which are peaking in European and American markets are brought and introduced here as soon as possible so that we can attract the early adopters.

Keeping an eye on the international market is how we gauge trends.

6- What makes Beauty Bar different than the other e-commerce platforms?

Willa: Well there are two things that make us stand out. First, we focus on a very specific segment that is beauty and self-care. So, the variety that we have is more than what other platforms are offering. Also, we have brands and products of all the price points.

Secondly, the level of service we offer is way different than the other online shopping portals. The standard online stores have seven working days delivery time while we try to reduce this as much as we can, and deliver the product as soon as possible.

7- Does Beauty Bar also offer local brands?

Willa: Right now two local brands – Luscious and Conatural – are on our panel. Luscious is now big brand too because it recently inducted into Sephora America.

8- What do you think is the reason for less number of local brands on Beauty Bar?

Willa: The main focus of Beauty Bar is international brands, those brands which are not easily available in the local market but there is a demand for such brands. We do not have many local brands on our website because all the local brands are already available in the local market.

9- How about the cottage industry, have you ever worked with such products or brands?

Willa: Yes, we are doing that. We started such campaign on women’s day. We have inducted five different home-based products or brands like organic oil, masks etc. We don’t charge anything from such brands for putting them on our website and the excessive push we give them on our portal. However, we take a nominal amount from them which is kind of a service charge.

10- As you have worked with an international company so how challenging for you to work with Pakistan market and distributors?

Willa: Actually, I was working with Pakistani distribution firm. I had four color cosmetic brands under my domain. I had to look after the entire marketing. As I have made a lot of trust by working in that international company, customers are willing to work with me. so that’s why none of them are disappointed.

11- As an industry insider. how do you see the e-commerce industry of Pakistan?

Willa: At the moment the penetration is limited but at the same time I believe e-commerce it is the way forward. The trend will increase day by day and we need to be very vigilant because in ten years this will be massive.

12- On what criteria do you select a brand to be listed on the Beauty Bar?

Willa: Quality comes first because we have to deliver premium quality product to the customer and then comes the price point. We also have to be careful about the company behind the brand and product.

13- What is the ratio between orders coming from KLI (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad) as compared the rest of Pakistan?

Willa: Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad give us the 40% of the total business and the rest of Pakistan is 60%. We get a very good business and frequent orders from cities like Hyderabad, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Mirpur Khas, and Multan. In fact, we do get orders from areas like Gilgit and Skardu.

14- Any city name which was surprising to you?

Willa: That would be Rajanpur Khas it is a small town near about Bahawalpur.

15- What is delivery time for cities that have inaccessibility issues?

Willa: Since TCS is our logistic partner we are pretty much sorted. Cities having TCS centers get the delivery in a day and where TCS does not have a center it takes two days to deliver the product to customers in those cities or villages.

 16- What are future plans for Beauty Bar?

Willa: We will be working with new brands and keep on adding new brands and trying new avenues. These days we are in conversation with Korean brands and so far response for such brands is good.

What does Willa Hafeez the lady behind Beauty Bar thing about the women of this age?

Willa: To be honest, the women of this age want empowerment and independence but there is somehow lack of the spirit towards those worthwhile acts leading to empowerment. For a woman to succeed in this digital age it is important to scrap the idea that they cannot do anything because they are women.

News Reporter

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