Web-savvy parents in Saudi Arabia are being targeted by a new online retail portal specialising in products for children.
Mona Ataya, a mother of three boys and a founder of the recruitment site Bayt.com, is now the chief executive of the Mumzworld.com, based in Dubai. Ms Ataya discusses her company's strategy for focusing on Saudi Arabia's US$716 million (Dh2.62 billion) online retail market.
q How does Mumzworld fit in the market?
a Parents - particularly mothers - are confused. They don't know what to buy, where to buy it. As a first-time mother, I didn't really know what options were available in terms of products for children. On a more quantitative level, there are 64 million people online in the region, and 3.8 million are in the UAE alone. Women in the region control $246bn of the region's wealth. So all these numbers suggested something very relevant.
q How have sales been since you launched in October?
a We have today just short of 70,000 monthly visitors, from 36 countries. Our top six traffic locations are UAE, Saudi, Egypt, Jordan, the UK and USA. In the past 12 weeks we have had approximately 630 [orders]. In a year from now, this will probably be a week's worth of business.
q How do you plan to boost sales?
a We are launching our Arabic-language [site]. We are also launching a localised Saudi interface. Instead of shipping the product from the UAE to the Saudi market, because it's such a large market, we will be supplying locally. That's going to make our logistics much faster.
q Do you agree women in Saudi Arabia have been tipped as a key customer base for regional e-commerce businesses?
a That market is extremely important. We've seen a lot of traffic coming in from Saudi. And really the only barrier to purchase for many of these consumers has been the shipping [costs]. We have introduced free shipping for all orders above $399 for the entire GCC and Lebanon area.
q How does the costs of goods on Mumzworld compare with offline stores?
a Our margins are much lower than the offline stores. Where we can cut the margins, we do. At this stage, because it is early days, they are around 5 to 10 per cent lower. I see that improving significantly.
q One analyst has said children and baby products have proved "recession proof" in the UAE. How confident are you that is the case?
a Every mum, no matter what her disposable income, needs a bottle or a stroller, or a pacifier, or milk. Because we offer the widest choice, you can buy that Dh5 bottle instead of the Dh50 bottle.
q What are your predictions for the Arab e-commerce industry next year?
a This time next year, if you're not online, you're out of business. That's how strongly we feel about that. Because online is where most consumers will be shopping.