Inside Styline: How This Startup Plans To Win Online Hijab Business In Bangladesh
Conversation With Khobaib Chowdhury, Founder of Styline
Styline, an exclusive online hijab lifestyle startup based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, launched early this year with a vision to become home to hijab lifestyle products for Bangladeshi women. We did a long form story on Styline back then. The startup, came out of Founder Institute Dhaka, was doing pretty well and seeing a quite steady response from the market.
Recently, we took time to sit with Khobaib Chowdhury, Founder of Styline, to know, after all these months, what’s going on inside Styline.
Khobaib is passionate about his work and ecommerce and his one of the reasons behind starting Styline was that he wanted to serve a niche market for which online commerce can become a huge advantage. He saw there was a space to serve Bangladeshi women who are into modest lifestyle. Luckily there was almost no competitors in the market in terms of full-fledged ecommerce targeting the same niche. He took the chance.
In the first month, Styline managed to launch few very interesting campaigns like Matter of Heart and put itself as a destination platform for women who are looking for modest lifestyle products in Dhaka. Today, it claims 8 to 10 percent week over week growth.
“Styline is one stop lifestyle solution for Bangladeshi Women who are looking for hijab and modest lifestyle products,” says Khobaib, “the problem we are trying to solve is simple. We see that these women often have to move from one shop to another, one market to another to find right products and designs they are looking for. So what we want to do is: we want to make it simple for these women to find a large array of designs in one place.”
Styline officially launched in April, 2015, initially concentrating only on hijab. The decision was to ensure best quality products and excellent customer service. After almost 8 months, it is now offering few other products like hijab inner-cap, various types of utility products for hijab users.
Path to growth
In the first month, Styline managed to launch few very interesting campaigns like Matter of Heart and present itself as a destination platform for women who are looking for modest lifestyle products in Dhaka. Today, it claims 8 to 10 percent week over week growth. “In terms of growth we are doing well, says Khobaib, “and we are seeing monthly 20 to 22 percent upward trend in our business.”
Growth is central to any startup success and Khobaib seems to get it very well. As a team Styline is very growth oriented. “The reasons behind this growth are our vision, one stop solution, reasonable price and mainly the customer service,” says Khobaib, “we try to understand our customers well, communicate with them to identify their requirements and offer the best solution.”
A recent study suggests, 68 percent of customers leave a brand just because the brand is not caring enough. Customer service is critical to any ecommerce success since convenience is what people want when they choose online over offline. “We believe and practice that we are not selling hijab but we offering service, giving value to the customer,” says Khobaib, “we make sure we are authentic to our customers and aim to build a sustainable relationship by suggesting our customers which is better for them.”
Since its start, Styline has been working hard to personalize customer service. “We offer designs based on seasonal requirement, age, and we help our customers to match their design with the design of their dress,” Says Khobaib, “we try hard to make sure that every customer becomes repetitive”
The biggest challenge Styline faced was maintaining timely delivery. The team has to explain to the customers about delivery issues on a regular basis. “Delivery has been a huge problem for us,” says Khobaib, “since we rely on third party delivery service it is difficult for us to control that experience for our customers. We are working hard with our partners to ensure fast delivery.” The startup is now trying to optimize its internal operation to better deliver and better manage its customers.
On the other hand, customer acquisition was relatively easy for Styline. Since it is a women focused brand, it was easy for them to attract an early crowd. However, customer education remains a big challenge for the startup. Most of its customers still use facebook and other social media platform to place orders.
In a recent survey conducted by Styline shows that, there is a steady growth in hijab usage among Bangladeshi women, 23% of its customer base started using hijab in last one year or so. It means number of people embracing hijab and similar lifestyle products is on the rise. Over the time, Styline aims to become home to all modest fashion products needs.
Styline has so far bootstrapped. Khobaib has been investing from his own pocket and also raised a small amount from his friends and family. They’re now beginning to explore investment opportunities to scale the business. Khobaib wants to keep investing in growth and expansion and build a go to platform for modest lifestyle products.
So what’s next for Styline? In a recent survey conducted by Styline shows that, there is a steady growth in hijab usage among Bangladeshi women, 23% of its customer base started using hijab in last one year or so. It means number of people embracing hijab and similar lifestyle products is on the rise. Over the time, Styline aims to become home to all modest fashion products needs. “We want to become something like hijab= Styline”, says Khobaib, and “we aim to wow our customers with service.”
Now Styline imports and sources products and then put in its own warehouse to maintain quality. Over the time the startup plans to experiment with few things like allowing other similar product manufacturers to use its platform. Either way, Styline has a long way to go.
Note: Interview by Omar Faruk. Edited by Ruhul Kader. Images by Styline
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