Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO & Co-Founder, Souq.com, speaks exclusively to AMEInfo on the overly competitive e-commerce market in the ME region, the formula of success and the company’s future plans
What are the key pillars for success in the Middle East e-commerce space?
Customer focus is one of the driving forces behind our innovations. Our mission is to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the Internet and technology to empower customers to find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses to maximise their success.
We relentlessly focus on effective and efficient operations to improve the quality of our digital infrastructure, our products and services and, ultimately, better serve all of our company stakeholders, from customers to employees, partners, and sellers.
For us what’s most important is to offer our customers the widest product selection, great prices, improved delivery times, safe and secure payment options and first-rate customer service.
How do you assess the e-commerce playground in the GCC taking shape? Is the competition among online retailers getting too intense?
E-commerce penetration in the Middle East estimated at a mere 2% of retail sales compared to 15% in more mature markets, so there is tremendous growth potential in the sector over the next five years.
The region is emerging as one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets globally. High GDP per capita and phenomenal smartphone penetration are accelerating the e-commerce growth in the region. The UAE specifically has the highest smartphone penetration in the region at 90% this is driving the M-Commerce growth even faster.
Further, the introduction of local services such as next day, same day delivery as well as the convenience of a huge product selection at fingertips is also driving the market growth.
Today’s young and tech-savvy population are increasingly spending their time online and understand the benefits of electronic payments which offer speed, convenience, security and value for money.
M-commerce has also been a huge driver of e-commerce growth in the last couple of years, both for SOUQ.com and the overall industry- over 60% of our total sales account for mobile shopping.
In what ways Souq.com’s White Friday sale, starting on November 22, is going to be different this year?
Customers are at the heart of our business and our teams have been working diligently for months to make the shopping event bigger and better to enhance our customers’ experience.
White Friday 2017 will have unprecedented 500,000 deals on 16,000 brands- 50 times more deals on offer than last year. This year, we have rolled out credit card payment on order delivery in the UAE for more convenience to our customers.
We have also invested heavily in our operations by expanding our fulfillment centres, technology, resources and adding more pick up points for customers. We have further strengthened our robust delivery system to ensure despite the high volume of orders, customers get the products in record time.
This year’s White Friday brings a mass of new incentives and unprecedented selection of products and special offers to online shoppers on a vast selection of products like mobiles, TVs, large appliances like refrigerators and washing machines, cameras, diapers, detergents, fashion, perfumes, make up, home, furniture, tools, toys, games, cameras and many more.
SOUQ.com customers can benefit from free shipping on “Fulfilled By Souq” orders of over AED 100/SAR 100/EGP 300
How do you see the competition from current big e-commerce players, the biggest of which is noon.com?
E-commerce has a huge potential in the region. Ultimately there is room for a lot of winners. We operate in a very competitive environment against a huge range of businesses, and we spend most of our energy focusing on customers rather than competitors.
Payment by cash, instead of online, and hurdles in the cross-border delivery of goods are two of the biggest challenges facing the Middle East e-commerce sector. How do you plan to address this?
We continue to innovate on behalf of customers and prioritize the customer experience, which is critical to ensuring that we maintain trust in our company. This year, we have rolled out credit card payment on order delivery in the UAE for more convenience to our customers. We also offer cash on delivery.