Souq.com gears up for its biggest online shopping event yet
First White Friday shopping festival since Amazon acquisition with expected record sales
Souq.com's annual shopping extravaganza, White Friday, starts tomorrow, the first time it’s being held since the Amazon acquisition.
Eight months after the buyout, Souq can now leverage the experience of the parent company to run its biggest event of the year. Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO and co-founder, Souq.com, said Amazon can offer its Middle East unit with plenty of insights and know-how to serve customer at scale as it rolls out White Friday. “A lot of efforts have been invested into the infrastructure and setting up a better logistics capabilities,” said Mouchawar.
Amazon runs its own shopping festival Prime Day, where tens of millions of items have to be shipped within two days for Prime members in the US and all over the world.
Souq’s warehouses are open for merchants to stockpile their goods and make sure that shipping happens fast after the event. “Our merchants are using Souq's capabilities and Amazon’s know-how in terms of how to fulfil faster,” Mouchawar said. Souq wants to clear much of the delivery in four days post-event.
And this experience will come in handy. Souq.com is bent on setting a new shopping record this year, with the selection on the site going from two million items last year to 8.5 million this year covering 16,000 brands. The number of deals available for customers this year is 500,000 on over 5 million items. In comparison, there were just 10,000 deals last year.
White Friday is expected to attract new customers to Souq.com as well as increase spending of existing customers due to the number of brands and the unique offers available, Mouchawar said. Unlike many other sales events which simply turn out to be liquidation of outmoded products sold at discount, Souq avails the latest products in White Friday. “We want to make sure our customers have access to the latest products; this year for instance, customers have an opportunity to buy the iPhone X, latest PlayStation consoles, newest Android devices and the latest LED or 4K TVs.”
The timing of White Friday is ideal as it coincides with the launch of new products for the holiday season in the West. “We are able to offer these products to customers in the region at very affordable prices which allows us to attract a lot of new customer because of the type of products we have on offer.”
The overall share of online versus brick and mortar in retail is still at 2.5%, so there’s still a lot of potential just to get to the 10-15% ratio in western countries, Mouchawar observed. “However, we we have been very lucky as Souq.com is one of the top regional online destinations both for web as well as the app. We do have a large number of customers already, but engaging these customers to buy more with events like White Friday expands our reach further,” he added.
There are exclusive offers to be had at Souq.com unavailable anywhere else. Mouchawar said handsets manufacturers in particular have come to appreciate Souq’s market reach. “Brands see our broad scope and our ability to deliver the right content and the right value proposition. Most importantly, they see an opportunity for conversion on the platform where an item view gets turned into an order,” Mouchawar added. During White Friday, other brands, including consumer brands such as Pepsi, are availing specials with packaging designed around the White Friday theme.
On the logistics end, Souq has added hundreds of full-time and temporary FC associates in anticipation of the spike in sales during White Friday, with the centres geared to operate 24/7 prior and during the campaign to ship orders as fast and accurately as possible. The company plans to run multi-cycle operations across all its sort centres and delivery stations during the next few days. Hundreds of additional couriers have been hired in different locations to increase capacity, with special teams formed to deliver heavy bulky items such as furniture, large appliances and gym equipment. The company is also launching more pick up points for customers in new locations to collect their shipments during the event. “E-commerce is not all virtual and you have to make sure items reach the customer quickly,” Mouchawar said.
Souq.com acquired Wing, a marketplace for delivery services a few months ago, enabling the company to offer faster deliveries including next-day delivery in many of the big cities in the region. In Dubai, Souq is now offering same day delivery for orders made before 3PM.
Meanwhile, for the first time, customers will have more payment options as Souq rolls out its credit card on delivery option in the UAE, in addition to credit card payments on the site and cash on delivery.
On the back-end the fact that Souq.com runs on the AWS cloud allows the company to easily scale the technology when demand spikes such as during White Friday.