Souq.com eyes international waters

Souq.com considering regional and international expansion plans

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  April 29, 2008

The region's first online auction site, Souq.com is likely to go international in the near future, according to its managing partner.

Speaking exclusively to Windows Middle East today, Ronaldo Mouchawar revealed: "We are very open to the idea of going international. In fact, we've received a number of requests to open Souq Canada and Souq UK to serve the Arab populations living and working in those countries. We'd like to see Souq as a global brand being used by people in this region and from this region."

However, before the firm sets-up in international waters, it plans to cover the rest of the region first.

"Currently, we have a UAE, Jordan and a fairly new Saudi portal. Although setting-up the KSA portal was very difficult, the portal is promising," says Mouchawar. "Once we perfect our existing portals and understand the individual markets better, we'd like to set-up Souq versions for the rest of the GCC in countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, and thereafter cover key countries in the region. Hopefully next quarter we'll have some expansions; we're studying them right now."

Mouchawar reckons the key to going international is offering authentic Arab items such as artifacts and paintings. "I think once we set-up in countries such as Syria and Egypt - both of which have an amazing history - going global will be much easier, as we'll have unique Arabic products to sell to the rest of the world."

Souq.com first launched in August 2006. Mouchawar claims the UAE portal alone now processes 8,000 transactions and generates close to 10 million dirhams ($2.7m) a month.

In March of this year, the firm launched a spin-off of the site called Souq Motors. Mouchawar revealed that in the near future the firm might set-up similar verticals for other popular market segments.

"You could see a Souq Real Estate site or Souq Books spin-off in the near future. We are looking at lucrative areas and assessing which ones we should target next," revealed Mouchawar.

Next month, Souq.com plans to introduce a new login procedure that will require users to upload a small unique snap to their account.

"In order to prevent account misuse and phishing attacks, we've decide to add a digital signature in the form of a picture," stated Mouchawar. "Every time a user tries to access the site, the snap - which links to the user's computer - will show up on the login page. We plan to test this out next month and see how our members respond; I reckon it will be received well."

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