The Marketplace Making Quality Boutique Modest Wear Accessible
Giysi is an online marketplace established by Umair Usmani offering hundreds of modest-wear clothing options from different brands and boutiques across Canada. The young business aims to connect Canadian boutiques with a market reach across North America and provide a one-stop shop for newcomers and people seeking high-quality modest wear.
Umair moved to Canada from Dubai with his wife in early 2021, at a time when many businesses were locked down and shops were closed. When they arrived in Toronto, Umair’s wife needed to buy clothes for a religious festival and found that not many places were providing online shopping or delivery for traditional or modest women’s fashion. Local-made products were all but impossible to find.
After speaking to local boutiques, Umair realized that it is hard for newcomers to know where to go to find modest wear, how to ascertain product quality and pricing, and which brands are more reputable. Umair saw an opportunity to fill a niche market and serve a community. The boutiques he partnered with often had a set of loyal customers, but a limited scope in terms of market presence.
“My business model completely revolves around having a great website and my Coordinator made sure that we ended up having a great website.”
Umair started the business by working with the ShopHERE powered by Google program and his ShopHERE eCommerce Coordinator to set up an online store. The goal for the new business was to provide a marketplace to allow customers to become familiar with a wide array of pricing and products, and to facilitate the ease of shopping for newcomers and people looking for modest wear. Umair was also looking to connect boutiques with a wider audience and help them expand their market reach. One of Giysi’s objectives was to foster a community and build a network of customers and boutiques.
When Giysi started, its focus was on selling hijabs. As the business grows and progresses, Umair has seen modest dresses such as kaftans and abayas selling well. As he continues partnering with new high-quality boutiques, his customers are increasingly interested in a wider range of products. Giysi has also begun selling halal nail polish that can be worn during prayer and allows for water soaking.
“It was a complex project in the sense that the goal was not just to create a traditional website but to create an online marketplace with connections to vendors and customers encompassing many variables such as inventory and shipping. I am glad to say that all of this was dealt with and effectively executed.”
When building the online store, it was important to find a way to incorporate connectivity to fit with partner boutiques’ inventory and integrate an order process that flowed directly to the boutiques. A top priority for Umair was an automated mechanism connected to vendor inventory for confirming and fulfilling orders since their needs concentrated on marketing and partnering with more boutiques as opposed to order fulfillment.
Finding a solution that would fulfill Giysi’s shipping needs required installing and integrating two applications, which was challenging, but Umair’s Coordinator was able to set up the online store’s order structure so that orders are automatically placed to the vendor’s store. Umair and his Coordinator were able to set up a pickup service at various locations for local customers and arranged for carriers to pick up orders to make shipping easier on his vendors. His Coordinator was always eager to help and was very involved at every step of the building process.
“The ShopHERE Program is a great initiative for young entrepreneurs and established shops to take advantage of. They have robust knowledge of executing the project and understand your business really well which allows them to assist you in taking the next step of going online.”
Umair had spoken with other developers to build an online marketplace for Giysi. Having websites built can be costly, they would not have all the functionality and features he was looking for in an online store and required him to get involved in much of the selling process. Through the ShopHERE Program, Umair had a high-quality online store built that supported the development of a professional online presence for his business, and his Coordinator was very invested throughout the process to ensure that all his shipping and automation needs were met.
One of the biggest challenges for Giysi was reaching out to the right audience and carrying out productive marketing strategies. Having just moved to Canada, Umair did not have much of a perspective about the clothing and modest wear markets. The ShopHERE marketing training helped Umair understand the local market and get started with developing effective marketing campaigns using tools such as Facebook Ads Manager.
Click here to view Giysi’s wide range of quality modest wear. If you are looking to expand your business’s presence or start an online store, click here to read more and sign up for the ShopHERE Program.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Meta, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Lightspeed, Ebay and Canada Post.
Continued investment from the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) has allowed the ongoing expansion the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital across Ontario.