In the land of the ubiquitous shopping mall, how do you convince customers to buy online? After an aborted foray into online groceries, Omar Kassim of Dubai set up a website selling electronic gadgets. Here, the founder of JadoPado explains how he is growing sales by focusing on same-day delivery and top-notch service.
Why the switch from groceries to electronics?
Groceries are a hard sell. We were a bit overambitious. Margins are pretty tight in groceries and it's quite difficult to convince consumers to shop for groceries online and to be able to turn that into a profitable business. And there's the availability of other options: the ability to be able to call down to the nearest grocery store and get a guy to come out and deliver, or being able to drive to the closest supermarket. We are still in a very niche e-commerce market in the UAE.
JadoPado went live in March last year. Are electronics working out to be a better business?
The business is doing really well. We've got over the first year, which is a major hurdle for any start-up. Our numbers are heading in the right direction and the market is going quite nicely.
Your pride yourself on doing things differently. How so?
We don't sell what we don't have in stock. That allows us to get deliveries out to customers in a few hours rather than over a few days. If you buy something before 2 o'clock, we will deliver on the same day. The average person lives 15 to 20 minutes away from a shopping mall so it doesn't take too much effort for them to get into the car and get to a store. I felt that we needed to build an e-commerce model where you compete against offline retailers. The actual experience of using the site is very important. A lot of people haven't had that first e-commence experience yet so it's a learning process. The other component is customer service.
Why did you choose Dubai to launch your business?
I grew up here. We understand the market pretty well.
Do you operate beyond Dubai?
For the first seven months, we serviced Dubai only. We opened up to the rest of the Emirates in months eight to 12. The plan is to roll out into the GCC within eight to 10 weeks.
And do you plan on selling goods other than electronics?
At the moment, it's easier for us to be able to execute a single category really well rather than trying to execute five or six categories in a so-so manner. If we can build a sustainable and volume-based business off that, then we can look at other categories in the future.
JadoPado is an unusual name. Where did it come from?
I am north Indian by descent, so we speak a dialect of Gujarati at home. JadoPado is essentially the same as calling someone a fatty in English. My sister saw my little son running around and she said: 'He looks like a little fatty.' The domain name was available and it sounded quite catchy, so we thought, 'Yeah, why not'.