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How Tokopedia opens doors to local Muslim wear businesses

Istu Septania

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, April 21, 2021  /  10:00 am
How Tokopedia opens doors to local Muslim wear businesses

With the help of Indonesian e-commerce giant Tokopedia, Abu Nasor Al Farobi, the founder of Tazkia Hijab Store, has been able to build his Muslim wear business and promote its products across the archipelago while retaining all his employees throughout the pandemic. (./.)

With the holy month upon us, the owner of Tazkia Hijab Store shares his inspiring story on how he launched his online clothing business and survived the pandemic. Here, Abu Nasor Al Farobi tells us how he realized his dream of having his own online shop with help from Tokopedia, Indonesia’s leading e-commerce platform.

Some people have a natural talent for entrepreneurship, and dream of becoming their own boss while having enough time to spend with their family. Abu Nasor Al Farobi, who goes by the nickname Robi, is one such person.

With a background in information systems, Robi knew too well that online shopping would soon be inevitable. In his mid-20s, Robi started a small accessory business, developing his own website and selling imported accessories from China. A couple of years later, he decided to change course and focus more on local products.

“At that time, I saw a rising trend in Muslim wear,” recalled Robi. So he seized the opportunity to launch his new business, trading in Muslim clothes for women. He launched his online store on Tokopedia in 2014.

E-commerce has helped many small businesses to flourish. Newcomers with tight budgets like Robi can save on the costs of renting space and hiring employees, all the while building their brand and attracting more customers.

Tokopedia has been of particular help to Robi in quickly expanding his business in just a few years. The popular online marketplace allows independent merchants to promote their products to shoppers across the country while managing their virtual stores at the click of a key. Furthermore, Tokopedia's search advertising and free shipping facilities have helped Tazkia Hijab Store attract new customers and retain loyal consumers.

But for Robi, it was not always smooth sailing.

In its early days, his online shop did not have a large customer base. He received very few orders and sometimes bought just one clothing item per day for his stock. As a newcomer merchant, Robi knew he was being taken lightly and underestimated.

“I don’t call it a tough time. I always call it a fun time,” he said, laughing.

His persistence and grit helped him thrive: His shop eventually grew in popularity to become a top buyer, spending around Rp 50 million a day on purchases from Robi’s clothing wholesaler.

And he didn’t stop there.

In the increasingly competitive fashion market, Robi had to make sure his store stayed top of mind, selling quality clothing at affordable prices and providing the best online shopping experience.

“Then, I decided to create my own products,” said Robi, who didn’t know how to sew. So he hired a small team to produce Muslim clothing. His wife, a frequent online shopper who was aware of the latest fashion trends from Instagram influencers, helped with designing the collection, and still does today.

Since opening its Tokopedia storefront in 2017 as a clothing retailer, founder Abu Nasor Al Farobi has been able to grow his business into Tazkia Hijab Store, with its own clothing line and private label, to become one of the top Muslim wear merchants on the leading digital marketplace, selling over 270,000 items from its branded collection.Since opening its Tokopedia storefront in 2017 as a clothing retailer, founder Abu Nasor Al Farobi has been able to grow his business into Tazkia Hijab Store, with its own clothing line and private label, to become one of the top Muslim wear merchants on the leading digital marketplace, selling over 270,000 items from its branded collection. (./.)

The store receives orders from big cities across the country, from Aceh to Papua. The majority of buyers are in Greater Jakarta and cities in Central Java and East Java, most of which are resellers.

However, Robi’s store was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside many small businesses. The number of orders plummeted, especially during the first months of the crisis, when people stopped spending amid the economic downturn and other uncertainties.

Before the pandemic, Tazkia Hijab Store received up to 150 orders. Today, it receives around 50 orders and up to 150 orders during Tokopedia’s promotional campaigns.

“Most customers only buy one item of clothing,” Robi explained. “In the past, it used to be two or three items per order.”

The pandemic also affected the peak sales period ahead of Idul Fitri last year, when the store saw a significant decline in revenue compared to previous years. There were times when Robi worried that he might need to let go of some of his workers.

So he adjusted Tazkia Hijab Store’s strategy to cover the shrinking sales by accepting orders for customized professional wear from friends and relatives.

Fortunately, his business survived the crisis point. Robi did not lay off any of his employees, and sales have slowly improved to generate up to Rp 250 million in gross monthly revenue.

Robi expects sales to grow during this year’s Ramadan. His team is busy increasing their capacity to meet peak demand during the weeks before Idul Fitri, when he estimated sales could surge more than 300 percent.

To anticipate bulk orders and avoid running out of stock, Tazkia Hijab Store has increased production of its bestselling items. “We never run out of our bestselling clothing items because we have prepared [ahead],” said Robi.

"We'll be offering special promotions for Idul Fitri, too," he added.