Egypt's Direct-To-Consumer E-Commerce Platform Dresscode Has Its Eye On The Gen Z Market
Dresscode is a direct-to-consumer fast fashion e-commerce platform, primarily offering high-end brands and statement pieces at affordable prices.
Mohamed Abdeldayem was always drawn to the textile and apparel industry, having been surrounded by family members who were in entrenched in the field, which included his great grandfather, grandfather, and father. In fact, Abdeldayem has fond memories of his grandfather being a merchant in Al-Azhar, a well-known fabric market in Cairo, Egypt.
"Since I was young, I used to go with him and see his dealings with merchants," he says. "I have thus created a great understanding of the fabric industry, and I have built a strong relationship with merchants and fabric manufacturers. I became very aware of the industry pains in the textile industry since high school…. I worked in all aspects of textiles- from fabric design to yarn manufacturing." And while Abdeldayem ended up working as a financial analyst in an investment company for a while, his affinity for the textile industry played a key role in his decision to dive into entrepreneurship.
Founded in 2019 by Abdeldayem, Dresscode is a direct-to-consumer fast fashion e-commerce platform, primarily offering high-end brands and statement pieces at affordable prices. Initially launched as an online marketplace for formal and evening wear, it has since grown to cater to the Gen Z market, while offering products and pieces from Egyptian factories. Focusing on the Gen Z market was a deliberate choice, says Abdeldayem, as the team aims to find on-trend products and styles with affordable prices for the niche market. "We realized that a lot of people shop from Chinese and Turkish brands, so why not Egyptian?" he says. "Egypt is well-known for its cotton and textile presence in the world, so why not create a global brand using technology and data science?"
Offering designs and styles directly from its factories to the consumer, the company utilizes a pre-order model of production and then direct-to-consumer distribution, wherein an order can be placed for an unreleased item. This tactic not only allows the brand to produce sustainably and reduce waste that often accompanies fashion, but it also allows the brand to gauge customer demand as well. A significant aspect of this model is utilizing analytics and market trends, and, perhaps most importantly, communicating with customers. "We keep the community as our core, involving customers in decisions, such as what to produce, how much, and which styles to bring back," Abdeldayem says. "Our artificial intelligence and data science helps achieve that."
But given the number of e-commerce platforms in the region, one may wonder how Dresscode aims to differentiate itself from the crowd. Abdeldayem replies to such a contention with this statement: "Our unique selling point comes on many levels. For instance, we offer 200 new styles monthly. The world is now about micro trends, and we try to keep up with these microtrends. We have over 20 designers that work around the clock not to miss a trend, to keep our customers up to date, and fashionably on trend."
Mohamed Abdeldayem, founder and Managing Director, Dresscode. Image courtesy Dresscode.
He also points to Dresscode's prices and quality as a differentiator for the brand. "We also work with a unique customer relationship management model to reduce waste. No other fast fashion player does what we do to lower waste, costs, and offer our customers the best journey. Our customers are our focal point, [and] our data science offer our customers the best personalization journey."
Abdeldayem is candid about his entrepreneurial journey- it hasn't been an easy ride, he admits. "The biggest challenge was having people see our vision, believing in us, believing that the region can bring a global household name in fashion," he says. "So many people doubt that, and I don't get why… We will build the next Shein, from our region with our youth talents."
One of the challenges Dresscode faced was in acquiring customers in Egypt and in the region, which the team tackled by doubling their focus on customer experiences. "We had to knock on doors, and call customers who registered and never did buy to check why they didn't go through the purchase," Abdeldayem recalls. "One of them said she had a bad experience ordering online, because what you order is never what you end up getting, so I was like, 'Order, and I will personally deliver the order, and we'll wait outside till you check it, try it, and we will not charge you anything if you don't like it.' She agreed, and she was actually surprised by the quality, and till now, she's our customer."
This particular customer interaction is what led Abdeldayem and his team to offer an option on Dresscode that allowed people to make an appointment to try out clothes before they actually bought it. While this offering was halted after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Abdeldayem says that it remains an indication of how far he and his team would go for their customers. "We call our customer experience our ministry of state for happiness," Abdeldayem adds.
"That's how we grow. We don't care about doing the largest amounts of sales, but [we] care about the level of happiness for each talent." Such efforts by the Dresscode team have paid off- Abdeldayem says that the company has 35% recurring customers on its daily sales statistics. Since launch, Dresscode has maintained a "10x growth per year," with it now having 10,000-15,000 web visitors per day, with an average of 750-1,000 orders per day.
The startup has recently signed a partnership agreement with Elle Paris to manufacture and sell the Elle brand in the Middle East and Africa region, as well as a collaboration with SAP for a full-stack enterprise resource management to enhance their operations. Their latest milestone, Abdeldayem states, was starting a full-fledged operation in Saudi Arabia. In the coming months, Abdeldayem explains that the team is working on further improving their customer experience, and most importantly, gearing up to launch Dresscode in Kenya later this year.
"The end goal is to be the first unicorn from the region in our space, fast fashion," he adds. And for anyone considering taking the entrepreneurial path, Abdeldayem has this piece of advice to share. "I think now is the best time for entrepreneurs to follow their dreams," he says. "In the most difficult times arise the most opportunities… The world is shifting, trends are changing, habits are dying, so, yes, I would encourage anyone with a passion [and] a solution to a problem to go ahead and start, bearing in mind that the journey will be difficult, and it will require a lot of sacrifices."