Classica International is a dutyfree supplier providing international shipping with the aim of being the most convenient shopping experience in the country at the best prices. For the company’s newest venture, CEO Jacques Weizman chose The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference to unveil the new online store. Exclusively for ambassadors and embassies, the website promises an easier shopping experience and new VIP membership that will give shoppers discounts of up to 70 percent on products from the retail price.
“It is a big revolution,” Weizman said, adding that until now, embassies that wanted to buy in bulk and duty free had to go through a multistep process for approval and to pass through customs.
“What we do is a quick approval, because we have all the numbers and names. We first receive registration on the website, approve it quickly, and then we open up the online shopping for the diplomats that have the permission to buy the tax free products,” said Weizman.
The company was founded in 1973 to provide shipping and offshore supply in the Middle East. Weizman says the company is small and attributes its success to a team of dedicated employees. Today, it covers over 30 percent of the cargo and cruise vessel shipping in Israel, according to its website.
Classica also has reach in supplying cargo for container ships, bulk carriers and tankers. It provides general ship supplies, marine equipment and spare parts services. As part of its dedication to customer service, the company maintains it can be a “one-stop shop” for the needs of food, technical supply, duty-free, safety and life-saving services. Weizman began working with the company in 2002 in what was once a showroom at the Jaffa port. Diplomats would visit the showroom to see the inventory, check the products and place orders from there. In 2007 the company moved to the coastal city of Rishon Lezion. Classica provides express shipping of its over 1,200 name-brand products that include spirits, cigarettes, cigars, accessories, cosmetics and perfume. As part of its service, Classica provides account managers to diplomats available around the clock as part of its dedication to putting the customer first.
This year, a popular Classica retail store was opened in the port of Eilat, taking advantage of the resort town’s high influx of tourists arriving by cruise ship or vacationing Israelis. Customers can make their purchases without paying tax and stock up on their favorite brands of cosmetics, spirits, tobacco and perfumes.
Catalogues will now be sent to embassies and diplomats and the online store will tailor discounts and coupons to the most frequently bought items. The VIP numbers, which debut at the Diplomatic Conference, will allow anyone to take advantage of a higher level of service and access to coupons of up to 50 to 70 percent off a selection of top-quality products.
“This is a good solution for all the diplomatic groups that are coming from a lot of countries and want their own items,” Weizman says. “Before they placed their order and sent it by fax, and they are waiting for the fax back, it took a lot of time, a lot of phone calls.”
Production on the website for online shopping began in 2005. Weizman says the diplomatic community faces many complications to be able to do tax-free shopping and Classica works with the intent to make it easier and streamline the process as much as possible. An additional service they offer is free shipping throughout the country.
General manager Amir Lapid, who started with the company last year, says Classica’s dedication to excellent customer service, stock and prices is what separates it from competitors.
“We have great deals at unbelievable prices for products that ambassadors and diplomats really love and know,” Lapid says.
“The first thing is our service, the next thing is prices, and the last thing is online. It doesn’t exist in our competitors.”
As one of the sponsors of the Post’s Diplomatic Conference, Lapid says it was a natural move, as the majority of their clients are visiting diplomats and ambassadors.
Socializing is a large part of the life of a diplomat, Lapid says, and Classica wants to give its customers the ability to buy whatever they want.
“They need to bring good alcohol and show they have good taste in cigars and cigarettes and of course be perfumed,” he adds with a laugh.
Lapid hopes to develop the company more by its promotion through conventions, increase the marketing and allow clients to buy whatever they want, however they want.
“We can do it by fax, email, phone, and the most easy way through the online diplomat store website,” Lapid says. “I want more people to know about us and understand that we can give them great service and better service than they’re used to.”
Classica’s website is www.classica.co.il and the new online diplomat store can be found at www.diplomat-store.co.il