The founders of ADASAT, Ziad Tariq and Payam Honari, talk about their inspiration behind ADASAT and highlight the challenges faced while rolling out their vision.
Please introduce Adasat to our readers.
Adasat.com is an online platform for all eyewear products such as contact lenses, eyeglasses and sunglasses. We are based in Dubai and provide free shipping all over the UAE. We also offer a Home Try On service in Dubai which allows customers to try on sunglasses and eyeglasses before making the purchase.
What is your inspiration behind initiating Adasat?
Being in the industry for a while, we were inspired to transform the optical industry and adapt to the technology world that is rapidly growing. We saw as technology was growing, a lot of businesses were getting left behind because they didn’t want to adapt to the change. We embraced the change and wanted to be different – we wanted to provide the same professional services you will find in an optical store in a more convenient, hi-tech manner.
In your view, what is the potential of e-commerce in the optical industry in the region?
We see a lot of potential in the eyewear industry especially in the Middle East as there is an increase of people that have started to wear glasses and contact lenses. Coloured lenses are in demand, especially for cosmetic purposes. In the Middle East, women have grown to love makeup over the past years, making it part of their daily routine in which coloured lenses have also become a “Must” as it enhances one’s beauty. In terms of e-commerce, we have already seen a change in consumers’ perception in buying lenses online instead of in retail outlets. Over the years, consumers have learned to trust e-commerce and soon, Adasat will be introducing more features that will make the customer’s e-commerce journey easier than it already is.
How did you raise the capital to fund this venture and what kind of challenges did you encounter in raising those funds?
As soon as we had the idea, we put all our effort and time in research – about the current market, the future of this market, and the benefits of adapting with technology. As we approached our local investors, we made sure our proposal was as informative as it could be. We provided a lot of insight in the Optical industry, including our forecast for the new venture, to show them a more advanced and convenient life with Adasat.com. After our presentation, our investors were very excited to see a change in the industry and couldn’t wait to get started.
Can you share the roadblock’s that you faced initially and how did you overcome them?
A huge roadblock for Adasat was our marketing team – we were spending a massive amount on sponsored ads on Facebook and Instagram and getting a very minimal amount in return. We realized later that we needed to change the way we were spending in terms of ads and learned how to spend and most importantly where to spend for our ads. Once we changed the marketing team, we saw a huge difference in the results – we were spending less than before but getting a much better result than we ever did. It’s all about finding the right team that complements your brand and knows and understands the needs of your company.
How does Adasat help it’s customers choose the right eyewear online?
At Adasat, we are all about customer service. We make sure that all our customer’s needs are met so we have equipped our team with all the information they need about our products. For contact lenses, we also have an optometrist available with any medical questions to help select the lenses that are most suitable for your eyes. For sunglasses and eyeglasses, we have a “Style Profile” online which helps determine the style and shape that is most suitable for your lifestyle by answering a questionnaire. We also have a Home Try On service (available in Dubai) which allows customers to select sunglasses and eyeglasses to try on at home before making their purchase.
How do you rope in brands for Adasat and currently how many brands are working with you?
Before acquiring each brand, we look at the market trend to see which brands are more favourable here in the Middle East. A lot of research is done before we decide on which brands to take in. A big factor that we consider is if the brand sells better online or in-store. There are some brands that do very well when sold online but don’t move once they’re put in the store and vice versa. We of course need to make sure that our brands are moving on the site. Some of the brands that we currently have for contact lenses are Bella, Anesthesia, Amara, Diva, Freshlook, Acuvue and Cooper Vision and for sunglasses and eyeglasses, we have Momo Design, Blauer, Molsion, Posh, Carrera, DKNY, Calvin Klein, and Timberland.
COVID-19 has been a game-changer for everyone, how did it impact Adasat and what steps have you taken to sustain and carry forward?
Since the first Covid lockdown in 2020, we had an increase in amount of customers, our orders increased by 50%, and our sales increased by 130%. Covid brought us many new customers that have grown to trust our service and the process of ordering online. During Covid, we have proven to be safe and reliable – shipping all over the country in their time of need. We took extra precaution with each order we received from safe and sanitized order preparations, to maintaining social distancing in the warehouse, to providing contactless delivery to our customers who don’t want any interaction with the drivers. We have also had numerous orders from customers who were stuck in quarantine in which we proved to be very reliable as we made sure that they were still able to get their daily necessities (mostly contact lens wearers) without having to worry. We are, until today, still taking extra precaution – making sure our employees are vaccinated as we are a medical company that deals with customers on a daily basis. Our whole team at Adasat wants to make sure that we are all staying safe and sanitized to prevent any further spread of Covid for our health and our customer’s health as well.
Please share with us your plans to expand Adasat into new segments, markets?
In the future, we plan on expanding Adasat by providing cosmetic products related to the eye that complements contact lenses such as eye lashes. We see this as a growing market especially in the Middle East as women are very interested in makeup in this region and we feel that we should provide our customers with easier access to get all their needs on one site.
Where would you see Adasat in the next 12-18 months?
Our business goal is to be a recognized international brand where people around the world can order their eyewear products with trust and ease. With our hub currently in Dubai, we plan on expanding our reach within the Middle East. In the next couple months, we plan on offering international shipping directly on our site as we have fulfilled past orders from countries such as the USA, Bulgaria, Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Italy through our WhatsApp service. We currently have stocked all the favourite brands and moving forward, we want to establish a market place business model with trusted optical stores and distributors in the region.
What advice would you like to offer to the budding entrepreneurs and what should they remember always when they are getting ready to take off with their startup?
Some friendly advice we would like to share are;
1) Focus on customer service – it’s the most important aspect of any business. You need to earn your customer’s trust for them to purchase anything. Most businesses focus on becoming profitable but forget about customer service. Customer service is the key to any successful business and helps you become established and well known, which allows you to be recognized by a bigger crowd.
2) Make the experience easy and fun. Customers should feel some excitement in receiving their order the same way they feel when shopping in a mall.
3) Don’t over spend on things that will not help raise the value of your brand. We’ve seen many start-ups blow their investment on paying top influencers but don’t receive any sales from them. This is a huge gamble as being a start-up company, resources are very limited so you need to know how and where to spend your money on.
4) Focus on converting your new customers to loyal customers. It’s very time consuming and takes a lot of research to gain new customers so you need to make sure that you are retaining those customers. You can always rely on loyal customers to repeat their purchases.