By Abdul Basit Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Souq.com co-founder and chief executive officer Ronaldo Mouchawar shares some advice with budding e-commerce entrepreneurs. The Dubai based Souq.com has more than 10,000 sellers on its platform, merchandising hundreds of thousands of products.
Start-ups need solid technology platforms, technical assistance and market exposure to develop and grow their businesses.
This is the advice of Souq.com co-founder and chief executive officer Ronaldo Mouchawar to upcoming entrepreneurs.
"Innovative technology, evolving product ranges, firm determination, a bit of luck and strong passion towards the brand and consumers are some of the key driving forces, which all entrepreneurs can benefit from," Mouchawar explained.
The Dubai-headquartered retail portal was launched more than 10 years ago. Today, it's the largest e-commerce site in the Middle East and the best example to follow for young generations on how to become a successful entrepreneur.
The Middle East region is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets globally and is expected to reach $20 billion this year.
The region is rapidly evolving and has witnessed a tremendous growth in e-commerce over the last decade. As such, online shopping at Souq.com has also experienced continued growth. "We are constantly evolving and strongly believe in staying committed to the development of e-commerce within the region," the CEO said.
The UAE leads the Middle East in e-sales volumes, with some forecasts indicating a $10 billion market in the country by 2018.
Moreover, in Saudi Arabia alone, the e-commerce market is set to hit $10.8 billion by 2020 compared with a projected $6.8 billion in 2016.
Popular categories While the consumer electronics category is leading in terms of sales, Souq.com is also experiencing a phenomenal increase in a number of lifestyle and fashion products sold specially via its increasingly popular mobile app.
Today, the retail portal features more than 1.5 million products across 31 categories, such as consumer electronics, fashion, health and beauty, household goods and baby products.
"Over the last couple of years, we have phenomenally extended our lifestyle and fashion offerings and today Souq.com is the destination for the latest fashion, makeup, fragrances and skincare products in the region," Mouchawar said.
"We continuously monitor customer trends and based on this we adjust our category offerings. Through varied categories at the most competitive pricing, we place the power in our customers' hands along with the convenience to select from a large assortment of products at your fingertips."
The retail site has more than 10,000 sellers on its platform, merchandising hundreds of thousands of products, which enables the portal to grow long-tail categories and provide a wide range of products to its customers.
Talking about early days' success, the chief executive mentioned that the company's main focus was on consumer electronics. Thanks to a staggering youth population with high disposable income, the platform immediately got off to a positive start.
"As the years passed, we invested in new technologies, identified and catered to the changing consumer demands to strengthen our foothold in the region. We adapted our platform with the innovative technologies that emerged in the following years, be it the first smartphone boom or the introduction of tablets," he said.
"Our initial launch revealed that the region was originally fragmented as there was very minimal online content available in the region. Recognizing this restriction, we shifted our focus on empowering SMEs [small and medium enterprises], individuals and suppliers in the region," he added.
The company is now focused on developing the appropriate scalable tools for merchants to enable them to sell at higher volumes and with more convenience.
Due to recent trends, the portal is also emphasizing great priority on its mobile applications, which has gained a lot of acceptance from consumers. People are now spending most of their time online and understanding the benefits of electronic payments, which offer speed, convenience, security and value for money.
Mobile commerce has also been a huge driver of growth in 2014 and 2015, both for Souq.com and its mobile app, as well as for the Middle East's online market as a whole. "M-commerce grew exponentially in 2015 and over 60 per cent of our sales are driven by mobile shopping," Mouchawar said.