Published on July 1st, 2015 | by Bhavishya Kanjhan2
Wadi.com enters the Middle East markets with launch in Saudi and UAE
The Middle East’s eCommerce space has a new player, and it’s not a lightweight – not by any measure. Backed by the Middle East Internet Group (a JV between Rocket Internet and MTN), Wadi.com is a multi-category eCommerce store and Marketplace that is coming all guns blazing.
Wadi has already launched in Saudi Arabia last month, and has started its operations in Dubai this month as well. It is co-founded by Ankit Wadhwa, Pratik Gupta and Kanwal Sarfraz (COO), who between them have extensive consulting and eCommerce experience. Their aim is defined in their rather simple tagline – ‘Everything. Delivered’.
Wadi has fulfilment centres in Riyadh and Dubai
For its part, Wadi has already made extensive strides to achieve that. It already has fulfilment centres in Riyadh and in Dubai. Of course a lot of the knowledge and learning comes from MEIG and Rocket Internet’s experience with Namshi.com – the fashion eCommerce player with an extensive logistic infrastructure. But Wadi wants to take this a step further. It’s going to pilot a pick up store in Riyadh – called Click & Collect – at the end of Ramadan that as the name describes, allows customer to pick their items from a store instead of having delivered it at their home. The pick up store will also double up as a service centre to help resolve customer service issues.
So while many offline stores are scrambling to setup online presence, in an attempt to setup omni-channel retail; Wadi is going the other way by starting with online and using offline as a support mechanism.
So far growth has been ‘good’ according to Gupta. He estimates a 50% Month-on-month growth for Wadi currently and he expects that to continue. Of course percentage is a very tricky metric. Competition in this space is intense, and logistic costs can be quite high. How does Wadi expect to compete, is what I asked Gupta. He acknowledges that there is competition, but he says that the current situation is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’. He believes the potential of the market is far greater than what we’re seeing currently. Perhaps this is why he says they have systems ready to operate at a far greater scale than what they are right now; something he believes to be a competitive advantage that Wadi has.
Wadi only leaves to sellers what is core to them, which is procuring the product
In addition to that, Gupta says by controlling a large part of the experience – logistics and delivery in particular – Wadi only leaves to sellers what is core to them, which is procuring the product. This allows Wadi to deliver a ‘delightful’ experience as Gupta calls it. This is in contrast to what JadoPado is doing – processing the transaction only, leaving delivery and customer service to the sellers.
We’ll have to see how Wadi performs in the region. As the adage goes, time will tell. But there’s no doubt about the fact that there’s potential in this market, and Gupta isn’t the only one to believe so. Omar Kassim, CEO of JadoPado has said he believes there really is an opportunity to build a billion dollar business, and if rumours of the valuation of Souq.com are true, it may already be a billion dollar business.