Online shopping has come of age: the internet always offered choice, value and convenience; in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, shopping online has become a way of life enabling customers to purchase everything they need without leaving home.
If the past ten years saw online shopping come of age, how will the next ten years shape the online offer?
Mahmoud Akrin is Founder and CEO of GoBazzar, based in MENA. GoBazzar is a smart, real-time price comparison platform, which enables the online customer to compare and contrast different companies’ offers enabling them to make the best decision for price or features.
Akrin says that the future is one of growth. “We are aiming to launch in multiple regions very soon with a very aggressive scale-up. Our vision to be the leading price comparison platform globally, to be the destination of online shoppers.”
These are bold words in a marketplace as competitive as the online space, where search algorithms change regularly and long-term customer loyalty is hard to win. Akrin says that a combination of technology and human resources are his weapons in the war for clicks, but his main strategy is one of innovation.
“Nothing is impossible if you have the right strategy. GoBazzar is using advanced technology based on AI, where we are showing a real-time price comparison to the customer. We also are able to find information on things like stock availability, so we will tell the end user which stores have a product available to buy.”
These live updates put GoBazzar a step ahead of the competition, which may update prices on only a daily basis, while availability checks avoid the frustration of discovering an item is sold out late into the customer’s journey.
The main challenges to GoBazzar are similar to those facing the wider e-commerce industry.
“There are two challenges, which everybody faces in this field,” Akrin explains. “One is resources. Everybody has now started a transformation. In advanced places like Dubai, a shortage of talent is the first challenge. The second challenge is customer behaviour. We are seeing the trend of customer behaviours change every three years, two years maximum. Now you have to be very flexible and keep your R&D team always awake and aware of what's happening in the market.”
Fortunately, GoBazzar’s location in Dubai helps: there is a culture of business growth, supported by the government, which makes it easier to set up a business, open a bank account and access accelerator funding. Further, Microsoft and Amazon in Dubai provide the cloud services essential for a business like GoBazzar.
For Akrin, the opportunity has been to lead, rather than follow the trends. “There is a high demand for what we do. We are building a brand to become an advisor to online shoppers that will help the sustainable growth of GoBazzar. Within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) there is very high growth: everybody has access to smartphones and payment flexibility. For under-developed countries to accelerate faster, you need to have an infrastructure ready for it.”
Akrin predicts that this will change as businesses see the opportunities of appealing to younger customers whose purchasing power will be hinge on their communities. Akrin calls this community shopping - and he is determined that GoBazzar will be in the vanguard.
“We have a very aggressive strategy in terms of expansion from the land of Dubai. In one year, we will cover the full GCC, UK and United States. That is aggressive growth for a start-up, but we will achieve it.”