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Interview: Aquavape’s Ebrahim Kathrada

June 22, 2020

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“We always believed that, over time, the vape category would evolve from specialist stores to mainstream convenience,” says Ebrahim Kathrada, director of vape manufacturer Aquavape. “There is a great opportunity for retailers to look at non-performing areas of their store and make them profitable by introducing a range of vaping products.”

The firm is confident about the current vape market – particularly in the UK where, despite the setback of COVID-19, the category has performed well: “The global vape market is now estimated to be worth £15bn up from £5.5bn just five years ago. The UK is the second biggest vaping market in the world.”

These strong numbers are why Kathrada thinks it is time for reailers of all kinds to prioritise vape: “The e-cigarette market is expanding and as the number of vapers continues to rise. We would encourage retailers to look at their display and make changes if improvements are needed.”

So how can retailers execute great category management in a new market that can be hard to get to grips with? Kathrada says stepping into the shoes of your customers is a great first step. He says:

“We have to understand this completely from a customer’s perspective. Walking into a store and seeing a wall of vape can be very daunting. Stocking many SKUs with different colours and sizes, without clear shelf-edge labels and lack of organisation, is a recipe to put a customer off instead of encouraging them to shop.”

Ebrahim Kathrada (R), director of Aquavape, receiving the Best Flavour award at the 2019 Vape Business Awards from Ramniklal Solanki CBE (M), Editor-in-Chief of Asian Trader. Aditya Solanki, Head of Digital at Asian Media Group is on the left.

Kathrada and his team are ready to help stores and have already gained plaudits from store owners for doing so. In 2019, the company also won the award for Best Flavour at the inaugural Vape Business Conference & Awards for its Fresh Menthol product.

“Aquavape can work with you to help turn this space and your shop into a vaping destination by providing unique display solutions for any size store. We ensure that products are clearly displayed and organised to maximise sales. Display bays are illuminated with a good range of vaping solutions to service new vapers all the way up to those looking for something more advanced.”

The company says its “informative, clean and concise” on-pack-information also helps demystify the category to shoppers.

Perhaps its most innovative and eye-catching tool to help the consumer journey, however, is a touchscreen ‘kiosk’ unit which can answer questions and recommend products when a store owner is otherwise busy.

Kathrada says: “The screen and the category information it holds is designed to help customers understand their vaping requirements and guides them to solutions based upon the information they input. It also provides full product information, training videos, as well as full explanations of compatibility of liquids, devices, coils and tanks.”

And there is also a benefit to staff who can use the information the ‘kiosk’ collects to get a better picture of their customers’ needs and preferences:

“For the retailer all the product details are contained within the receipt including the barcode for scanning purposes. The screen solution really does take things to another level and will allow a shop with limited space to provide a wide category offering.”

Of course, with COVID-19 completely changing the way that retail works in the UK, this kind of tool may prove particularly useful.

“As Covid19 changes the way retailers and consumers interact, the “Silent Salesman” (as we like to call it) helps guide a customer easily through a range of products where they can obtain useful information and then easily make a product selection,” he says

Ebrahim Kathrada thinks this puts Aquavape in the perfect position to help retailers capitalise on the vape opportunity:

“If a retailer is ready to increase their current vape sales and is ready to give their vape category a boost then get in touch with us.”