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Adding the social element
Thriving online communities market digital businesses.
June 10, 2013 5:44 by Muhammad Aldalou
It would appear that every digital company, even one as omnipresent as Google, is on an ever-evolving mission to humanise the web. As customers continue to become more demanding and – by extension – more skeptical; peppering your platform (whatever it may be) with the influential power of ‘the social element’ is the next way to attract, and more importantly – retain customers.
Rabih Ghandour says that while adopting the social element on e-commerce websites may not bring immediate success – particularly in the early stages of the start-up – a thriving online community will organically market your business. Ghandour is the chief executive officer of Wamli.com; a Dubai-based startup that launched on December 12 last year and is currently focusing on being social.
Seven months on, Ghandour says the very nature of the shopping portal, described by them as the “quirkiest in Dubai”, focuses on both engaging users (with content) as well as encouraging them to engage with each other. According to him, the company’s model is ‘disruptive to standard e-commerce’ because of the way it integrates gameplay, social recognition and unique products from around the globe, combining it into a thriving community with its own virtual currency.
On one level, you could easily describe it as a hub for quirky and fun products that chose 12/12/12 as the official launch date. But, in fact, a lot of Wamli’s true charm lies in its social side. A one-of-a-kind loyalty and rewards programme, its own virtual economy, a dynamic ranking system, and the ability to earn spendable points every time one buys, shares or browses, are bringing Wamli closer to a fully fledged social network.
Recently, Wamli launched Beta 2.0, with tweaks and updates that include multi-currency options and worldwide shipping. Other improvements include cash on delivery options within the UAE, although Ghandour tells Kipp that they’re working on phasing that model out and converting all their customers to online payments.
“Wamli is a place [where] collectors and enthusiasts converge to find quirky stuff from the world over, and also be part of a social community and gaming experience. Our Beta 2.0 makes Wamli even easier and friendlier, while building on all the elements that made us popular in the first place,” he says.
In roughly five years, which Ghandour describes as ‘a long time in this business’, he expects payment gateways to be much easier to set up, a lot more competition and players in the market, higher awareness and education among consumers and better profits. More over, he predicts that the social element will truly ‘kick in’ and become a standard practice among e-commerce players.