Bazaara – an app for selling used clothes in UAE, creates a sense of community among sellers and buyers who share a common interest in sustainable fashion. This helps promote sharing of information and tips on fashion and sustainability, as well as foster a supportive and collaborative environment. Alyssa Mariano, Co-founder and CEO of BAZAARA tells us all about it.
What inspired you to start a re-sale fashion app and how did you come up with the concept of Bazaara?
I’ve always been extremely passionate about sustainability and the environment. Not only this, but I’ve been obsessed with thrifting and vintage since I can remember. With the fashion industry’s impact on the environment only continuing to get worse with the rise of popularity in fast fashion, I wanted to do something about it. After noticing that there wasn’t a platform for people to buy, sell and trade their unwanted fashion items directly with each other, I realised there was a gap in the market.
How does your app differentiate itself from other re-sale platforms in the market?
There are a couple of major ways our app differentiates itself from others. First, the payment process between buyers and sellers is integrated into our experience. For example, a buyer makes a payment for a t-shirt, we hold their payment in escrow and notify the seller that they have 48 hours to accept their sale. Second, the courier process between buyers and sellers is integrated into our experience. Once a seller accepts a sale, our courier is automatically dispatched to pick up the item and deliver it to the buyer. This is different to many marketplaces where the users need to manage payments, couriers, etc. themselves, which can lead to frustrations. Third, we focus heavily on customer service. We believe that by providing a great experience for our users, they will keep returning to our app and will tell their networks. This has been seen in our metrics – 90% of our users are coming from organic acquisition channels and our cost per acquisition is lower than $1, meaning that word-of-mouth and referrals strategies has worked extremely well for us.
How do you ensure that the items sourced are in a good condition?
There are a couple of ways we help ensure the quality of the items sold. First, we send sellers best practices and encourage them to describe the item exactly as is, and even package it nicely. Sellers are additionally motivated to do this because we have a ratings system in place – once the buyer receives their item, they can rate the seller from 1-5 stars and leave comments. If it happens that the seller sent an item that was not as described, we will help rectify the solution and a complimentary return and refund.
Can you walk us through the process of listing and selling both from the buyer as well as the seller’s perspective?
We made it our mission to make buying and selling easy and as seamless as possible. For sellers, simply upload a couple of pictures of the item that you would like to sell, you can categorize it, describe it and choose your own profit. Once you receive a sales request, you have 48 hours to accept the sale. Once the sale has been accepted, the courier will arrive next day to pick up the item and deliver it to the buyer. After delivery, the earnings are automatically transferred into the seller’s wallet. They can then request an immediate payout.
For buyers, you can browse categories, complete searches and more to find exactly what you’re looking for, from our over 30,000 live listings. Once the buyer finds what they’d like to purchase, they complete a purchase and we just pre-authorize their card (their card is only charged once they receive their item). After the seller accepts the sale, the buyer will be notified that the courier will arrive in 1-2 days with delivery of their item!
Tell us about a few challenges you have faced and how you overcame them.
There is still a lack of representation of women in leadership positions and this can make it difficult to find mentors and role models who can offer guidance and support. It can be discouraging to see the same patterns of inequality persisting year after year. There is also the challenge of work-life balance. It can be difficult to find time for self-care, family, and other pursuits while also building and growing a successful business. In addition to these, as I’m sure many other entrepreneurs can relate, I’ve faced challenges and tests to resilience and determination, including overcoming self-doubt and imposter syndrome. I am lucky that I can rely on my network of support who believe in me! I also had to learn to be my own advocate, believe in my abilities and potential, and learn to be comfortable with taking risks and making mistakes – as these are necessary steps in the process and journey of entrepreneurship. When faced with setbacks or challenges, I try to remind myself of the bigger picture and the impact that I want to make in the world, which helps me stay focused and motivated.
How do you envision the future of re-sale fashion in UAE and what role will your app play in this?
There’s a bright and rapidly growing future for the re-sale fashion industry in the UAE. With sustainability and conscious consumerism becoming more important to people, the demand for high-quality, pre-loved fashion is only going to increase. What’s exciting is that the resale market is growing at a rate of 11x faster than the overall retail market globally and is estimated to overtake the fast fashion market by 2029.
Bazaara will play a crucial role in this by being the go-to platform for circular fashion in the region, by providing a clear, transparent and seamless marketplace. We are building a community of fashion-conscious individuals who are committed to reducing their environmental impact while still looking stylish. By offering a seamless user experience and a wide selection of items, we believe our app will become the go-to destination for anyone looking to buy or sell pre-owned fashion in the UAE.
How to you ensure that the platform in inclusive and accessible and affordable to people from various income groups?
Ensuring that our platform is inclusive, accessible, and affordable to people from various income groups is a top priority for us. It’s one of the main reasons we created BAZAARA – to enable people to buy quality, designer items for a decreased price, while earning extra cash by decluttering their own closets. To achieve this, we have implemented several measures, such as low transaction fees and user-friendly interfaces. We also encourage our users to create listings that are descriptive and accurate to help buyers make informed decisions. Our ultimate goal is to create a community that is open, welcoming, and supportive for everyone, by prioritizing affordability, accessibility, and inclusivity.
How do you balance the need for sustainable fashion practices with affordable clothing options for consumers?
We promote the concept of circular fashion, where pre-loved items are given a second life rather than being discarded. By encouraging the reuse of clothing, we can reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry while also providing affordable options for consumers. We work with our users to ensure that listings are priced fairly and reflect the quality and condition of the item.
Your comment on the concept of ‘Circular Fashion’ and how it promotes sustainable practices in the industry.
Circular fashion not only reduces waste and the environmental impact of the fashion industry but also creates a more sustainable and ethical ecosystem for fashion production and consumption. Bazaara is built on the principles of circular fashion and by promoting the reuse of clothing, we help to extend the lifecycle of clothes and reduce the need for new production. This, in turn, helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease waste.
How do you see the future of the fashion industry evolving towards sustainability and what role do you see consumers playing in driving that change?
While the fashion industry is (and has been) going through a transformation in terms of incorporating sustainability into operations, there’s still a lot that can be (and will be) done. First and foremost, resale will become the fore front of ecommerce. There is so much inventory sitting unused in people’s closets, and with sustainability and conscious shopping at the forefront of today’s consumer, pre-loved shopping is one of the easiest ways to reduce one’s fashion footprint. Not only this but I think that since now many have realized the fashion industry-s impact on the environment, there will be stricter rules and regulations around manufacturing, logistics, and more.