Middle East: A Learning For Parafina - Parafina

Middle East: A Learning For Parafina

Our real strategy was none other than to form a team full of enthusiasm, eager to grow and willingness to do whatever it takes to grow every day.

And I say this because in high order peaks we have helped the department that needed it most to move forward. If we had to prepare orders, we started to prepare orders, if we had to label, we started to label, if we had to unload orders we started to do it, no matter what our main task was.

The 2019SS season started with the first fair where we present the collection every year, Pitti Uomo; that fair was a sure hit because the Italian market is one of the most powerful in fashion, and so it was, we found customers from almost every continent – although almost all were European. Later in other fairs, buyers from stores, buyers from Ecommerce companies, distributors, press… and some other scouts who wanted to get ideas appeared; watch out for the last ones!

Finally we met a potential distributor for Cyprus, weeks later he placed his first order to start distributing in the small eastern Mediterranean island. Coincidentally, this distributor had an old friend who knew the brand and started distributing PARAFINA in Lebanon. One of the most complicated things in the operation was the importation of the product, therefore, it was necessaryĀ  to have some knowledge of the INCOTERMS – depending on the interest of each customer. Usually we work EXW Incoterm, which means that the customer picks up the products in our warehouse and takes care of them once they exit the door. In this way, the customer managed the shipments of the product. Furthermore, it was essential to have a reliable customs agent to help us and speed up all the necessary procedures for the import in the destination country and avoid delays; because a delay means two things, one: an angry customer, and two: loss of sales days, therefore, a later re-purchase.

The key to success is to introduce the brand in a new market in the same way that it is told in international fairs to each client. In this way everything will make sense and there will be no contradictions. In addition, the relationship with the customer is very important because you are leaving on his hands all the relevant information to open a market and create a WIN-WIN situation.

After several months of work, errors appear. There are delays in shipments, there are guarantees, doubts about the product arise from the distributor, others ask for better commercial conditions, relationships are broken or new ones appear, and doubts also arise from customers who ask the distributor.

Today the relationship is one of full trust, and communication is very fluid, so the problem solving flow is truly good and the proactivity on both sides is fine enough to get more sales on each order.

In 2019, Lebanon started to suffer a very strong socio-political crisis due to the corruption carried over from previous years.

The banks would not let people take money out of the country, neither to insure it nor to buy products from other countries. Therefore, sales decreased. The drop was such that we had to look for an alternative so that the sales of that client would not be that catastrophic.

Therefore, having the knowledge of the Middle East market and culture, in one of our phone calls I asked the client if he would be able to open other markets in a better economic, social and political situation.

He told me that he would do everything to make it possible, he even came to our offices in Madrid and we signed an official agent agreement for the Middle East. Consequently, at the end of 2020, our distributor went to Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Jordan, and managed to open relationships with new customers in these countries. Today it is one of the markets with the greatest potential, but also one with the highest restrictions, as the product must be registered by the government, as well as labeled in their native language.

The conclusion drawn by both the client and Parafina is that in adverse situations we must adapt and look for a viable solution, taking advantage of all the strengths we have in a developing and untapped market as the Middle East. It is also clear that interpersonal relationships are very important because, in addition to the business interest of both parties, the relationship has been strengthened by friendship, understanding and feelings.

It is key to know first-hand the needs and requirements of each country because, depending on their culture, they can facilitate or block different aspects, such as payment methods, transport agreements (whether it is included or not), type of INCOTERM, guarantees and many others…