“We firmly believe the untapped potential of the region far outweighs the current barriers to entry.”
MarkaVIP is a leading Middle Eastern e-commerce brand emerging in the UAE. The website was launched in Jordan and Saudia Arabia in November 2010, and with the growing success of the website, it is currently expanding its brand in the UAE.
We had a chance to interview MarVIP’s CEO, Ahmad Al Khatib, who has a history of working with leading e-commerce brands such as ebay, Amazon and Zazzle. We sought to learn more about the company, its edeavors and its plans for the future.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I am the Founder and CEO of MarkaVIP, a private sales website focused on the Middle East. After living and working in Silicon Valley for 10 years, I moved with my family to the Middle East in early 2010 and founded MarkaVIP in Jordan in November of the same year.
In my earlier career I was very fortunate to work at a number of exciting e-commerce businesses, including eBay and Amazon. Most recently I worked at Zazzle.com where I developed the worldwide content delivery of Zazzle.com’s e-commerce application platform.
My area of expertise is developing business and technology solutions and applying them to augment, improve and transform e-commerce environments. At MarkaVIP we have combined our e-commerce experience with leading fashion industry professionals to provide our members with a shopping experience like no other in the Middle East.
Ahmed Al Khatib, CEO of MarkaVIP
What made you decide to go with the flash sales model?
The flash sales model is already well established in the U.S. and Europe and we saw an opportunity to adapt it for the Middle East and capitalise on the relatively underdeveloped e-commerce industry here.
This model works on the forces of time urgency and scarcity. At MarkaVIP we source excess or introductory inventory from premium brands worldwide to be sold to our discerning members within a limited period of time. In return, the customer gets much lower prices than they would normally be offered and opportunities to purchase products they may not otherwise have.
In that sense, it creates a win-win situation for suppliers and consumers. We take a commission on each sale, just as a traditional retailer would.
What potential did you see in the Middle East in general when you first launched your project in the Middle East?
Despite the relatively nascent state of e-commerce in the Middle East, we firmly believe the untapped potential of the region far outweighs the current barriers to entry.
If you look at the projected figures for online users in this region, the growth potential for a business like ours becomes quite clear. For example, in 2010 there were 135 million users online in the Middle East and North Africa, and this figure is expected to grow very rapidly to 241 million by 2015. If you also factor in the young population in this part of the world – take Saudi Arabia for example, with 40% of its population under 25 – it really clarifies the expected boom in online shopping among savvy consumers in the Middle East.
By bringing global standards of e-commerce to the Middle East, we believe we are contributing positively to the development of a robust and trustworthy e-commerce sphere. Our commitment to not spam consumers, to protect them online, offer a slick and secure shopping experience and ship goods efficiently from our in-market hubs, are all examples of the steps we have taken to ensure a world-class shopping experience for our members.