Cobone.com sets sights on MENA domination

Group buying site hopes to set up business in every country in the MENA region

Tags: Cobone (www.cobone.com)E-commerceEgyptEntertainmentGroup buyingJordanLebanonSaudi ArabiaUnited Arab Emirates
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Cobone.com sets sights on MENA domination Paul Kenny, CEO and founder of Cobone.com says his plan is to get the group buying site into every country in the MENA region.
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By  Georgina Enzer Published  June 26, 2011

Group buying site, Cobone.com has set its sights on becoming the number one group buying site in the Middle East and North Africa and is planning on expanding into every country within the MENA region.

Cobone.com launched in August 2010, is currently open in five countries; Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Lebanon, and nine cities in those regions.

"Our goal is to be in every major city in the Middle East and North Africa because right now we have a lot of cities we are not in, for example we are not in Doha, but we already have over 2,500 Facebook fans from there. Our goal is also to be the largest e-commerce site in the Middle East, right now we are number two behind our sister site souq.com and my goal is to build the largest e-commerce site in the Middle East. I think we will do that through offering not only spas and restaurants, but other product lines which you will see very soon," said Paul Kenny, founder and CEO of Cobone.com.

Cobone.com has sold approximately 200,000 coupons in the nine months it has been operating and saved customers over $10m, according to Kenny.

The website features a range of deals on a daily basis; these include deals on spas, restaurants, experiences and travel deals. Cobone.com has also had deals on iPads, BlackBerrys and even cars - Kenny says they will sell pretty much anything.

"Right now we have the daily deals, we also have a premium deal, which is higher ticketed items such as luxury spas and luxury restaurants, we also have a luxury travel, so we have Cobone Destinations. We have deals with holidays here or internationally, we also have national deals, which cover deals throughout the UAE and we have some exciting new verticals coming up with different products," said Kenny. "We will have loads of travel deals coming up because we have partnered with MasterCard and some big travel guys."

Cobone.com is also planning to offer more tailor-made services, so those people that just want to know about holiday deals, music deals or restaurant deals will just receive deals on those topics.

In the ten months that Cobone.com has been operating, it has gathered approximately 500,000 fans, who buy around 12,000 coupons per week and, according to Kenny, the number of users is growing massively on a daily basis.

"We have over 500,000 people that have signed up and we are getting over 10,000 people signing up per day. We have over 250,000 Facebook fans and it is growing so fast," he said.

According to Kenny, despite perceptions that Saudi Arabia is a difficult market to operate in, due to cultural constraints, it is the same as any other market in the Middle East.

"People perceive Saudi Arabia to have all these cultural issues, but at the end of the day people still consume; they consume food, they consume spas, they consume the same stuff that everybody else in the world consumes so I think we operate in the same way as we operate here," he said.

Cobone.com opened in Egypt five weeks ago, just after the political unrest that has plagued the country since the beginning of the year, and while Cobone.com was forced to postpone its earlier launch in the country, it says the unrest has had some benefits for the company.

"Egypt went through political change recently and what happened was that internet penetration grew phenomenally, more people were aware of Facebook and Twitter more than ever before and people were using it to communicate with each other. We launched in Egypt five or six weeks ago. Already, we have 100,000 Facebook fans and I don't think that would have been possible without this unrest. During periods of unrest, people still have to eat; everything does not stop just because of an uprising. People still like to save money no matter what is happening outside," said Kenny.

With the success of group buying businesses such as Cobone.com and Gonabit.com, there has been a surge of such companies in the UAE market, but many have not survived.

"A lot of smaller companies have seen the potential of the model, but will find it hard striking regular deals. Already four of them have closed shop and I think another five will close shop before the end of the year. I think there will be maybe three players before the end of the year," said Kenny.

He said that there is not room for more than three group buying sites in the UAE and that customers will soon learn which sites are worth using and which are not.

"What we are finding more is that customers are going more to the ones that they trust and going to the ones with the best businesses and what is good to see with Cobone,com is that we have the bigger brands and we are selling more than any one else. So over time, the customer will be educated that they should have not bought off a certain site because they may disappear tomorrow," Kenny said.

2110 days ago
Vidya Edited by ITP.net

http://www.cobone.com/deals/dubai/firstautospa-carclean/2792 http://www.cobone.com/deals/abudhabi/firstautospa-car-wax-clean-vaccum/5660 These are fake . NOT HAPPY WITH THEIR SERVICE. 1. Exterior car body jet steam clean. --- This was not done. 2. Jet steam cleans door jambs and hidden parts that are almost impossible to reach for a conventional car wash Exterior car body jet steam clean ----- No Jet steam was used. How will this be done. ?? 3. Wax coating with compound made from top-quality fluororesin and carnauba, giving your car a brilliant and long lasting shine . -- They used some wax while cleaning but itw as not actually coating. How there be any shine ??

2264 days ago
Chichak

This message is just to tell you than not all of Cobone deals are True, some of them are Spam! Cobone sells services without checking on the providers, all of their importance is making money!Example I have experienced: Cobone sold a deal as being a very good deal, clean environment, friendly professional people, bla bla! It is just not true. I went to that service, the place is "Discus-ting" , very dirty place and people working there have NO experience! they will use the same material for all the people, pretend using branded products while they use cheap products, etc.

and when you ask for a refund because you was unsatisfied, what happens Cobone sends you a template email and do the smart by saying you accepted the terms and conditions, and we will give you points, who knows about the points?!I am starting my little campaign against them, not for the money, but to let them know that clients are not stupid!!I will write about the issue in blogs, social networks, forums, and classifieds. most of the potential buyers will read my comments as a disappointed client, and it will be a pleasure to make other buyers aware of their real identity!
Cheers

2309 days ago
Jenna

I think market penetration has been achieved by such sites, the rest of the consumers like myself are weary of using our credit cards online, which is why I prefer Moosavings.com since they have a "cash on delivery" option, brilliant example others should follow.

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