JOINT VENTURE: From right: The three founders — Aiman Erbad, CEO, with Wassim Drira and Mariem Jabloun, Business Development Manager.
— Aiman Erbad, CEO, Qatarbestdeals. com
By Umer Nangiana
If you can purchase your much desired laptop or a mobile phone or even a perfume right from the comfort of your living room, why not? And it comes with all that you would want, the best possible price minus the arduous exercise of physically scanning the entire market for it.
What is fast becoming a preferable mode of shopping for millions around the world, the e-commerce portal, has arrived in Qatar and is already doing brisk business. Retail products purchased through e-commerce portals even cross borders. In Qatar, people have been dependent on this cross-border outlets mostly as a competitive e-commerce market could not develop here despite the huge demand.
The ensuing void between supply and demand did not pass entirely unnoticed though. Aiman Erbad, Mariem Jabloun and their friends have been keeping an eye on the surge in demand side of the graph and they jumped in to plug the gap with their own e-commerce portal, Qatarbestdeals.com.
Launched as a startup idea by just three young entrepreneurs, qatarbestdeals.com now has expanded to have a bigger staff. This means it has been enjoying a steady growth during the first eight months of its advent. The founders of this Qatar-based one-of-its-kind e-commerce portal see a great future for it. They, in fact, aim to take it beyond Qatar.
“We wanted to give people a better shopping experience. They get online, they are able to read about different products, compare them and then make a more informed decision,” Aiman Erbad, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the online shopping portal tells Community.
The website offers a wide range of products and delivers them to people’s doorsteps with the ‘payment on delivery’ option. Presence in the local market, quicker delivery, local warranty of products and an expanding network of local suppliers provides qatarbestdeals.com a clear edge over other websites operating from outside.
“We want to provide our customers with the best deals available in the market by securing a huge network of suppliers that we deal with. On a daily basis we get the best deals and we route these deals to the customers,” says Erbad.
With suppliers based locally, people have easy access to products and qatarbestdeals.com delivers to people’s homes. For the websites based outside Qatar, people still have to go to the post office to collect their orders and delivery takes more time.
Like others, qatarbestdeals.com also provides gift service, where one can send flowers, chocolates and other gifts to their loved ones with just a click.
“We select the best quality in the products which are branded with warranty. Soon, we would start working on new dimensions like reward and loyalty points with the aim to further improve the customers’ experience and to make them feel comfortable. We also have a planned mobile app coming up for the website,” Mariem, the Business Development Manager, chips in with her plans for expanding the business.
She goes on to add that they are exploring other products and one of them is e-books. The website is open to different products as it is upgraded regularly with more products adding every day.
Erbad says they have already experimented with a lot of products. The main focus, however, is on electronics, mobile phones, laptops, cameras, etc. And they want to expand on the gifts delivery service part of the business.
“We are also working on a range of different other products like kitchen accessories, dinnerware, items for men and women such as watches, cuff links and fragrances. Our fragrances in particular offer best prices,” adds Mariem.
“The customers are asking for more products. We try to focus on one because we do not have enough resources to expand at a time but there is a huge demand for a variety of products. Electronics has been a huge success for us,” Erbad informs.
“When we started we did not know many suppliers here but after a couple of months we are well aware of all of them and also the price parallels in the market,” reveals Erbad, adding that it gets easier when you manage to find small suppliers working in an area from where you can expand fast. The availability of such huge numbers of suppliers, he says, surprised even him and his team.
The CEO says the customer feedback and the general response from the public so far has been mighty encouraging and they know it first-hand. “Initially, I started to deliver goods to people by myself with the purpose to record their responses and reactions to our initiative. People, I realised, were pleasantly surprised to find such a portal available locally. Most of them have been here for a long time but never saw a local website like this here,” says Mariem.
The second thing that surprised the people was the price, she adds. They would compare it with other popular websites like Amazon and realised that our prices were the best. And our local presence makes delivery quicker, says the business development manager.
Once established, the qatarbestdeals.com team maintains a close liaison. “If they buy once from us, they would definitely come back to us. And that is what we have been able to successfully achieve by maintaining the high quality of our products and delivery services,” says Mariem.
When they started it was not a big team. And Erbad believes you do not need a huge set up in the beginning. “Initially, we used to go and deliver products to every customer by ourselves. It was all three of us working together. As you scale up sales, you require support staff and that is great as it means that you are making progress,” explains the CEO.
With the increase in sales, they have attracted more investors and suppliers besides revenues. Besides local support team, they now have some members of their company based in Tunisia as well helping them with the development of the business.
The website advertises mostly through social media and word-of-mouth campaign. Customers book their orders by calling their numbers given on the website or even by messaging on WhatsApp.
“We try to continuously keep ourselves known to people. We often go to public places like Corniche and engage people, inviting them to visit our website,” tells Mariem. “We also give-away our especially designed t-shirts with our logo on them and encourage them to flaunt it,” she adds.
However, the best way to spread the word about their business has been through word-of-mouth. People who shop with them would tell their friends and the word would spread. Mariem plans to expand the advertisement campaign in near future and is thinking of more innovative ways of attracting more attention and making the shopping experience further smooth for the people of Qatar.
“We are always looking for new ways to make it easier and convenient for people. And it is not just in terms of pricing but delivery, user interface, choice of products and all else,” says Erbad, the CEO, adding that if they hopefully get the package right, it would promote a healthy competition which is beneficial for the local market.
Doha, he says, is their main target audience. Going forward in about 2-3 years, they however aim to become a regional player, expanding to GCC first and then the rest of the Arab World.
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