Mashreq and Al Hilal Bank: one card fits allJuly 29, 2015 3:08
Another ‘e-tailer’ joins the market on 12/12/2012
Chief Srategy Officer at Wamli.com, a new Dubai-based e-commerce startup says keeping the simplicity is important.
December 17, 2012 6:25 by Muhammad Aldalou
Nielsen will repeatedly tell you that consumers – particularly those that spend a lot of time online – are becoming more and more savvy. We see it all around. We hear it. We read it. Companies struggle with marketing campaigns, knowing that each one has to be cleverer and more creative than its predecessor.
In fact, one could argue that we’ve all become so savvy that even a supermarket needs to consider strategies – even basic ones – on how it can differentiate itself from other shops. And that’s just a convenience store. We no longer get fooled by fluffy talk, bright colours and insincere marketing efforts.
Looking at the e-commerce industry in the UAE, one could initially assume that it is has long ago reached its saturation point. But when talking to owners and CEOs of many of the thriving ones, they’ve all expressed an almost unanimous sentiment: it’s completely untapped.
“We believe there’s still a big potential and there are still a lot of e-commerce startups in the region,” says Tarek Idriss, the Chief Strategy Officer of Wamli.com, a new player to the online shopping scene. Their site went live on 12/12/2012. “The downside of it being an untapped market means that there is still not enough trust among customers, but it’s coming,” he adds.
I’m assuming the date wasn’t a coincidence?
“No,” he laughs. “No it wasn’t.”
There are loads of e-commerce companies here, how is it still untapped?
“There are still a lot of people that haven’t gotten into the trend of actually buying online. We have a huge crowd here – both expats and nationals that haven’t started yet. They’re all potential customers for us and once you gain their trust and provide them with things that they can’t get at a store, then it’s a huge market for us.”
In time, will everyone be buying online? Or is it up to e-commerce sites to push the trend?
No, I don’t think they need to push customers. We’re trying to embrace the social element, not forcing anyone to get out of their habits. Shopping online is a natural trend, they’re really getting into it a lot more and the interest is building up. People are becoming more social. Besides, nowadays people are always in a hurry. Growing e-commerce will just satisfy the need for instant shopping.
Your CEO said that the Wamli model is disruptive to e-commerce. What does that mean?
Well, the typical model is that you buy something and it gets delivered. What we’re trying to do – aside from a loyalty program where users can collect redeemable points is to provide a social, gaming and ‘geek’ element. There’s a social platform on it, where we embraced Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter on our site where you can follow people, see feedback on products or read what others have thought about it.
Customer service is a tough area in Dubai. So far so good for you?
So far it’s been very very good. The environment here is a very happy and relaxed one. We actually call our office the ‘Happy House’ and we’re all just confident in our work. We don’t over promise anything and make sure our customer support is strong.
How do you plan to attract members?
Based on our philosophy, our main focus is online – more specifically social media. It’s important for us to keep members socially interacted.
Lot of online advertising?
We do a bit, just to spread the name around but nothing fancy. We’re still a startup so we like to keep it organic and natural.
Who do you look at as competition?
Honestly, I find it hard to put ourselves head-to-head with anyone else. Obviously, there are a lot of e-commerce sites around us but we sell completely unique products. There’s not the conventional things you’re likely to see in everyday stores. We’re tapping into a different group of people by creating this strong fun & geeky element so I don’t consider ourselves competing with anyone here.
What do you think online retailers in the country are doing wrong?
To be honest, I cannot really talk about other sites and what they should or shouldn’t do. Everyone has their own style, approach and organisation. We like to keep it simple and maintain that simplicity on our site and interaction with customers.