Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Waqas M. Khawaja, and I am the CEO of Alhamdolillah exports. We are based out of Faisalabad, Pakistan and we've been in this Himalayan Salt Manufacturing Business for more than a decade now.
We are a third-generation family business. We have manufactured functional & industrial-use fabrics, medical textiles, and rock salt products for the last 20 years. I have joined business post my education in the UK. I have realized that Himalayan rock salt is very unique to this geography and hence I decided to establish my own company and use our existing export experience to export Himalayan rock salt and its ancillary products to the world.
How did you decide to join Alibaba and how has been the journey so far?
We first heard of Alibaba from our industry peers and decided to try our luck. For 6-8 months it was quiet, just a few queries because we were setting up the account. After checking all the boxes, we finally received our first order and from then on the clientele has sky-rocketed.
Joining Alibaba.com has been the decision that has broadened our horizons. We started using Alibaba in 2016 and ever since it has been quite an experience, our exports have increased. We have an annual turnover of 150 million Pakistani rupees and almost 30% of this revenue is generated online through Alibaba. Today, we are now a family of 50+ employees. Out of them, I have 2 dedicated staff only managing the Alibaba account.
What markets do you export through Alibaba?
The wheels started to turn, we now have clients from places like Brazil, Spain, Italy, Kosovo, Cambodia, etc. Most of them have become regulars.
I think that is the best part about Alibaba, the international exposure that you get and the value for money.
How was your experience using the platform initially?
Initially, the platform seemed tricky, but the local Alibaba channel partner was very helpful, they were there to guide us on every step of the journey.
The virtual workshops also helped me understand the dynamics of the portal. From what we have learned, be responsive and engaging and soon you will have buyers lining up for your products.
When did you get your first inquiry after joining Alibaba?
After joining Alibaba, the first 2 things we did were to update our minisite and start posting products with good quality images. We received the first inquiry after 10 days.
What are the 5 things you did in the first 2-3 months in order to get inquiries from Alibaba.com?
- Post products,
- Respond quickly to inquiries,
- Post good pictures and videos if possible
- Give details about the products (as much as possible)
- Stay active in the platform
Why do you think Alibaba is better than other options you have tried?
The reason I think Alibaba gives good results is because of the features, the messenger for instance is a handy tool. We can now talk to our clients much more efficiently. Our favorite is the Minisite feature that makes your product visible and gives out complete details about the product, which increases and boosts your order probability. It’s a great platform! The messenger to me has been a really nice addition recently by Alibaba to easily connect and communicate with the buyers, alongside the order probability score.
How did the pandemic affect your online and offline business? What was the decrease in business? How did you deal with the situation?
We have emphasized more on online business & increased our online spending budget, the offline business has been affected since during these covid times exhibitions and physical interactions are pretty much non-existent.
What would be your suggestion to the upcoming Pakistani businesses looking towards digital export?
Recently, the government has extended support for export businesses to boost the national economy. So I’d encourage other businesses to actively start exporting and make the most out of platforms like Alibaba.com, which has a global audience.
When you look back, how do you see your partnership with Alibaba?
We started with a few clients and now we export to more than 33 countries spanning 6 continents. With Alibaba, I have been able to lead this venture into new bigger, and better arenas with my team. We have come a long way from where we started, and the journey has been exciting and overwhelming.
Their success could be yours!