Last week I met with Omar Kassim, founder of JadoPado an ecommerce website based in Dubai and described as the UAE’s best kept shopping secret. I could tell from talking with Omar that he loved what he was doing and felt very passionate about it, he’s not just another guy with an idea but truly believes that the region is lacking quality online shops that can serve people better, stating that “I can’t believe there still isn’t an Amazon equivalent in the region.” And that is something that shows on the site, if you’ve ever been on JadoPado then you know what I’m saying, the site is designed with the user in mind its simple yet very esthetically pleasing. I simply love their footer:
Initially the site was meant to deliver groceries, Omar had even setup a network of suppliers and storage facilities but he quickly realized that dealing with groceries had very tight margins and that deliveries would be a problem since it wouldn’t be financially sound to deliver the goods independently and working with the bigger logistics and shipping companies wouldn’t make sense either because nobody is going to wait for a day to receive their groceries.
So after much thought JadoPado was born (and we’re glad he didn’t stick with the groceries), its almost been a year since they launched and from our discussion things seem to be going good, he mentioned that up to December 2011 they were averaging around 30,000 monthly unique visitors (he also mentioned another milestone regarding the revenues but I’ll leave that for Omar to announce it on the JadoPado Blog).
Here are Omar’s answers to our questions:
What is JadoPado?
JadoPado is a new e-commerce offering for Dubai and eventually the rest of the Middle East. We’ve tried to do things a little differently by spending a significant amount of time (and coffee!) working on the user experience and supply chain. Our main source of competition is to prevent customers from walking into a physical store – we combat this by offering same day deliveries (usually within a few hours of placing an order) using our own fleet of vans.
Does the name have any significant meaning?
When translated from some North Indian dialects, JadoPado is the equivalent of “fatty” in English!
Why did JadoPado start?
We felt that there was a gap in the market in terms of a high quality, efficient and price effective online experience. It’s also evident that physical e-commerce players have been unable to address the wider region and we feel that the opportunity is there to do so, albeit in a slightly different manner than what has been tried previously.
Where is JadoPado based? And to which markets does it cater?
JadoPado is based in Dubai and in terms of deliveries currently caters to the city of Dubai. We’re hoping to expand this out in the upcoming months to cover the rest of the UAE and eventually the rest of the region.
When was Jadopado launched?
JadoPado went live on the 20th of March 2011.
Who are the key players at Jadopado?
JadoPado is a team effort. More details of the team behind the project can be found here.
JadoPado is incubated and funded by al bogari Holdings, a family owned trading and investment firm based out of Dubai.
Any plans to expand?
Yes! To cover the rest of the UAE in the upcoming months and then eventually regional expansion to cover other GCC markets.
How much was the initial funding and how was it secured?
Initial commitment has been around USD 1 million. As above, the funding has been provided by al bogari Holdings, JadoPado’s incubator and parent firm.
Are their any investors if yes how many of them are there?
Corporate investor. No other investors at this time.
General & Operations
How does Jadopado view e-commerce in the region?
E-commerce is at an interesting juncture in the region at this time. Coupon sites such as Gonabit, Cobone and Groupon to a lesser extent have driven both local and regional consumers into e-commerce – with many of them using coupon sites as their first real e-commerce experience.
We see consumers becoming increasingly comfortable in using e-commerce as an alternative channel as is evidenced by the number of stores and start ups (both in and around the physical and coupon space) cropping up to serve the market.
Can you give us any statics on the number of users and what is the percentage of return buyers?
Sure. Have a quick wander over to the JadoPado Blog. We’ve posted our Six Months stats not too long ago, now our unique visitors have dropped recently but our sales have gone up.
Why do think people will use JadoPado, What is your favourite feature on the website?
We think we have a pretty strong user experience. We spent quite a bit of time looking at the checkout process and trimming away whatever wasn’t required. Placing an order should take you just under thirty seconds or so (including all your details – unless you have an account – in which case it should be a bit faster).
In addition, we’ve tried to do little things like making sure a customer does not need to sign up for an account when using the site to ensure that, that doesn’t become a barrier to purchase something.
Our key selling point is probably our speedy delivery. This has been a real focus area to ensure that once a customer decides to purchase he or she has as a short waiting time as possible.
What is the marketing model followed?
We currently spend the majority of our budget online. We mix it up between text and image ads.
We’re considering other mediums such as radio and print, while keeping an eye out for a few alternative “guerrilla” opportunities.
What should start-ups from the region focus on when marketing their products/services?
In my view the focus really needs to be on your product and or service. Make sure that it’s absolutely the best it can be and ensure that you’re always looking at ways in which you can make it better.
In terms of marketing don’t spent too much up front. Test the waters, get to know your customers, talk to them all the time to find out if your product is fitting their needs. Iterate and keep on doing so until you’ve got something that works well.
What do you think of Social Media?
I was a bit reluctant at first, but the Facebook “Like” is really a powerful tool, unlike advertising on Google where people may see your ad once or twice, once a user clicks that like button they’ll constantly receive updates and feedback on their walls which results in higher traffic to our site.
We also use twitter, but not to push sales instead more of a conversational channel not too long ago we started a conversation about cheesecake which ha nothing to do with JadoPado and we got some interesting feedback and got to know more about our community!
Who manages your online and social presence?
We did have a community manager that is no longer with us, now this is handled by all the team members. I deal with it a lot, because essentially I believe the customer service and social media are related and should be handled by one team. Its important to know and understand your customers.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the region?
Work hard. Play harder. Do it really well, or don’t do it at all.
A big thank you to Omar for taking the time to meet with me and answer the questions, if you have any questions or feedback let us know.