“We firmly believe the untapped potential of the region far outweighs the current barriers to entry.”
Do you foresee the same success in the UAE as you have seen in other countries?
Yes we do. The UAE has a diverse, engaged and style savvy population who like to keep a step ahead of fashion trends and will appreciate the value, convenience and quality of the MarkaVIP shopping experience.
Demonstrating greater familiarity and confidence shopping online, our UAE members are more likely to buy from us using their credit card than members from other markets. MarkaVIP members based in the emirates are also our biggest individual spenders, signaling an affinity with our products.
How would you differentiate yourselves from established e-commerce brands, such as Sukar.com and Souq.com?
At MarkaVIP we overcome logistical cross border issues well known in the Middle East, by establishing a distribution hub in each of our markets. This ensures we have the fastest delivery times for our business model in the region.
We have experienced buyers on our team from some of the world’s top department stores, who source premium products for us to offer to our members at great prices. Our buyers’ have a strong network of leading suppliers and are experienced at identifying emerging brands and stand out items, meaning that our members benefit greatly from our hand-picked product selections.
We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service, providing quality products at great value and ensuring a convenient, secure and stylish online shopping experience.
We believe that the Middle East is most definitely ready for a world-class private shopping club like MarkaVIP. Consumers are showing great confidence in our model, with membership numbers rapidly approach half a million and two to four thousand people applying for membership daily.
Given your experiences with both the US and the Middle Eastern markets, what would you say are the differences between those two markets?
The current state of e-commerce in the Middle East is comparable to the U.S. 10 years ago or Turkey seven years ago. It is by no means a mature industry in this part of the world, but it is developing – just look at the recent acquisition of GoNabit by group-buying giant LivingSocial. It is clear that international investors are acutely aware of the e-commerce potential of the region.
In terms of flash sales, we had to adapt certain elements of the business model to suit this market. For example, given the relatively low credit card penetration in the Middle East, MarkaVIP’s local logistics service means we can accept cash on delivery. We are seeing a gradual shift to increased credit card payment every month, suggesting that shopping with MarkaVIP is also a catalyst for online purchases.
In this region we have limited payment gateway options compared to more mature markets and the cost of using these is often prohibitive for an e-commerce start-up. We overcame these issues by establishing our own secure payment gateway through Belgium, ensuring a fast, trouble free check- out process for our members.
Why did you choose to go with an invitation only membership for the website, rather than an open membership?
At MarkaVIP we offer suppliers and retailers the perfect platform to showcase their products to a discerning audience in the Middle East. By harnessing the buying power of MarkaVIP’s exclusive membership base to move excess stock within a two to three day period of time, the integrity of a designer label is maintained.
Our membership-only model also has benefits for upcoming brands. Emerging designers can pitch their products to a discerning and influential audience who can spread word-of-mouth buzz about the product through their social networks.