Dubai-based Souq.com, one of the Middle East’s largest e-commerce businesses, aims for high double-digit revenue growth as it introduces “Black Friday”-type discount events to help lure shoppers from the city’s retail malls.
Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States, held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, is so named because it traditionally indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or go into the black.
Souq.com’s planned Middle East version, which it terms White Weekend, will run on Nov. 27 and 28. Taking place ahead of the Dubai Shopping Festival, the city’s biggest annual retail event, Mouchawar said it could trigger a trend in the sector.
The online retailer is partnering with 20 major brands to offer exclusive deals predicted to attract 10 million visitors to Souq.com’s websites and mobile apps and generate sales of 250,000 items, the company said.
“Our market share is developing,” Ronaldo Mouchawar, chief executive of Souq.com told reporters on Sunday, noting 52 pct of online shoppers in the UAE were already using the company’s website. “Keeping that share, while growing that pie, is really our goal,” he said.
Regional internet usage is growing about 40 percent a year, with Middle East and North Africa e-commerce spending estimated at $12 billion in 2014 and $15 billion the year after.
The firm attracts more than 30 million visits and 10 million unique visitors to its site every month, it said.
Souq.com sees its strong growth potentially laying the foundation for a stock market flotation or initial public offering (IPO).
“For the next two to three years, we’re aiming for a high double-digit top-line growth and not looking for profit, which will come at the right timing, along with (an) IPO,” Asif Keshodia, Souq.com group chief executive, told Reuters .
Souq.com, which has a group of companies including online businesses Cashu and Cobone, has raised $150 million to finance its growth plans, with South Africa’s Naspers contributing $75 million of that total earlier this year.
The group sold Maktoob, an Arabic online portal, to Yahoo Inc for around $175 million in late 2009.