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| 20 November, 2017

UAE e-tailer rolls out heavy arsenal in White Friday blitz

Image used for illustrative purpose.
A woman shopping at an online store.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A woman shopping at an online store.

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Souq.com has bulked up on product offers and faster delivery times in all-out campaign

Dubai - Souq.com is not holding anything back this week. For the four-day White Friday online sales rush, it has got 8 million SKUs (stock keeping units) up on its portal as opposed to the 2 million SKUs it had same time last year.

And Amazon’s acquisition of Souq.com earlier this year is only part of the reason why there are products showing up. “We have used our relationships and that of Amazon’s to bring in more products to consumers,” said Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO. “We are still in the process of scaling up the business. Amazon has certainly helped on the operational side.

“That’s 50 times bigger than we were last year.”

A successful White Friday and enough happening over the holiday buying season should have souq.com in fine fettle. It could leave a deep impression in shopper mindsets even as noon.com — the other contender going for scale — starts ramping up operations in the Gulf markets.

For the moment, souq.com is doing everything to winning over new shoppers and having them come for more. Would it now extend to offering a loyalty programme, of the Amazon Prime kind?

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“There are a lot of ways to crate loyalty for the brand,” said Mouchawar. “There’s the free shipping we now have for anyone ordering upwards of Dh100 — this is to help customers who hesitate about paying for shipping charges and refrain from shopping online.

“We are tackling payment barriers — everyone has cash on delivery schemes. We now allow payments to be made using credit cards at the time of delivery. All of this reduces the friction between the consumer and his mindset towards online shopping.

“Most of what do as pilot tests in the UAE are replicated elsewhere in the region.”

According to the CEO, the e-retailer has more or less nailed down same-day or next-day delivery on orders within Tier-1 cities. These details will come in handy when the online retailing industry in the region is growing at 30-35 per cent annually, much of it fuelled by increasing acceptance among Saudi and Egyptian shoppers. (Souq.com recently completely the acquisition of the logistics marketplace win.ae.) For this years White Friday, Mouchawar said: “We expect the UAE to account for 35-40 per cent of the total planned event, slightly lower than was the case in other years. For us, Saudi Arabia is clearly growing the fastest and with good income. Not just since Amazon bought us, but in the last couple of years.

“Where we had 10,000 deals in the past, we now have half a million. And the number of brands participating would be 16,000.

“We have always encouraged local businesses — especially the small ones — to take advantage of the infrastructure we have built. But what’s different this year is these (independent) sellers can take advantage of our fulfilment {that’s warehouse in souq.com-speak} centres. That means they place their goods at these facilities and we do all the logistics.

“We are adding to the fulfilment centres and the last-mile delivery points to bring the product as close to the customer. There will be much more coming, including click-and-collect points in markets like Saudi Arabia.”

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