Online retail market size in the Middle East is expected to reach $51 billion. So, ecommerce is definitely something to watch out as very soon most of our purchases will be done online.
That is what all the experts are saying at least. Dubai Fashion News wants to find out more, as Goshopia: the ecommerce platform part of DFN, will be launching soon. We interview Paul McGregor, digital guru, founder of MFM and lecturer at the short courses held in Dubai for the London College of Fashion.
Paul is coming to Dubai at the end of this month. He will be teaching one of the new courses offered by the London College of Fashion: Online Retail Business. This course has been added to the offering by popular demand- says Genevieve Hawes, Marketing Manager of LCF.
By the way, all the readers of Dubai Fashion News enjoy a 10% discount when booking any of the courses. This is courtesy of the amazing teams in Dubai and in London of this Fashion School.
To have the discount you just have to enter the code below when booking online or over the phone. Just note that you can not avail this discount for the Consultancy offer with Toby Meadows.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you learn about ecommerce and how did it change the rest of your career?
I always wanted to work for myself and always wanted to create freedom around my work. From an early age, I was always looking at ways to make money, selling clothing on eBay at around 13 on my Mum’s account alongside making and selling music at around 15. As I was already selling clothing and accessories on eBay, moving into online retail and creating Brighterman was the obvious next step.
I was only 19 when I launched Brighterman and I was pretty naïve in terms of how the online market worked. I simply thought having a website was enough to generate sales. Looking back this naivety, of course, meant I didn’t hit success as quickly as I thought I would, but it made me learn a lot about marketing, the technical side of things and online retail in general. In terms of how it changed my career, looking back it was the best decision I made. Leaving my full-time job and creating freedom through working online is something I would never replace.
You started Brighterman in 2009. How was it then and how is it now, when it comes to online retail?
It was harder back in 2009. I had to learn how to code slightly. I overpaid for a website that was average in terms of how it looked and how it functioned and online retail wasn’t trusted by the consumer as much as it is now. Right now starting an online business has never been easier. You have ‘off the shelf’ solutions such as Shopify and WordPress that make creating an online retail store simple for anyone who doesn’t know code or have any technical knowledge. It’s also a lot more affordable than it was back then. The consumer is also more trustworthy and mobile technology means sales are consistently growing year after year at an astonishing rate.
Brighterman closed in 2013. What lessons did you learn that you can share?
If I’m honest Brighterman was something I kind of fell out of love with. I was writing for a few fashion blogs to market the brand and decided to create my own version, MFM (www.mensfashionmagazine.com).
At first, MFM started as a marketing platform to make sales on Brighterman but as time passed by, I preferred the business model. Back then my lifestyle was a lot different and running the magazine required less work. I was extremely young when I started Brighterman, and I made a lot of mistakes, mistakes I learned from. It was everything from the branding to the products I bought and I wanted to start afresh. I made the decision a few years ago to close Brighterman but I’ve helped many successful online retail stores launch since. I always have plans to go back into Online Retail as well, but right now I’m focusing on MFM and consulting. The main lessons I took were to be selective with your product selection, invest little at the beginning and scale out and most importantly, marketing is the key element to success.
What are the challenges of starting an online business?
I think people underestimate the work that can go into starting an online business. They hear about brands and apps taking off and earning considerable amounts and think they can easily replicate it. They don’t see the work and the development that happens in the background to make that success happen. The good thing is right now it’s never been easier to get started. Anyone can create an online store that looks professional and get their first sale within a short space of time. The technical side of things isn’t as difficult as people think but getting the right product and marketing strategy to accompany it is definitely the biggest challenge.
You are also the founder of Mens Fashion Magazine -MFM. How do you see the evolution of men style in general? and in the MENA region?
Men’s style has evolved since I got into the industry, especially within the online space. There weren’t a lot of blogs when I first started but now there seems to be an influx of bloggers and influencers within the men’s fashion industry. I think it’s going to continue to grow with more men being open to improving the way that they look through the clothing that they wear. In my opinion, the MENA region still hasn’t fully tapped into the online potential so I truly believe the growth in the MENA region will explode once it does. I think more men are open to trying new styles and also new ways of shopping and I can’t see this changing anytime soon.
Dubai Fashion News has a podcast and so do you. In the region, podcasting is something still very new. Tell us everything about The Ultimate Man.
“The Ultimate Man” was a way for me to interview experts in all areas of self-development. I truly believe that if a man wants to dress good, they want to feel good and a Podcast was the perfect platform to discuss topics based on self-improvement. Whereas style content is better received visually, a Podcast is something people can listen to on the go pretty discreetly. I try to put out at least one episode a week and the numbers are growing.
ABOUT THE COURSE: ONLINE RETAIL
What can expect to learn if we join your course: Starting an Online Retail Business?
Everything you need to know about starting a successful online retail business. I break it down step by step, from product selection, all the way to making your first sale and scaling up to become the brand you want to be. It’s intensive, but I’m also pretty hands on and try to help each student with the launch of their online store once the course finishes.
Who do you think will benefit more from this course? As it is only 3 days, it is kind of intensive. Do we need to know a bit beforehand or is it a kind of an introductory course?
Yeah, it’s intensive, but the one in London is only 2 days. The extra day means we can spend time on the practical elements of what’s taught. I think action outweighs logic. So, having this extra day, where I can help the students take action on starting their online retail store, will help a lot. I start from the beginning, so you don’t need any knowledge beforehand. I’ve taught students in London who are over 60 years old and never used social media before. I also taught it to designers with existing online retail stores already who want to gain more sales. I try to cater the lessons around the class I’m teaching.
When and where is taking place the course?
My course starts on the 27th of February until the 1st of March. From 9.30 to 16.00. All the LCF courses take place at Dubai Design District.
You need to check the dates of each course as they have different dates and times.
If all of this resonated with you and what you want to do in your future, don’t miss this chance. Join the LCF courses using the 10% discount.
They have batches in February, May, and October. In February, the courses are :
- Fashion Buying and Merchandising.
- Principles of Fashion Styling 1 and 2.
- Starting your own Fashion Label (course and a separate consultancy session).
- Starting an Online Retail Business with Paul McGregor.