We didn’t anticipate the speed at which Internet would impact business growth and how consumer behaviour would change with the explosion of bandwidth, internet-enabled devices and social media – Ronaldo Mouchawar
Early signs of success
Souq.com was launched in 2005 as an online marketplace and auction website for consumer-to-consumer sales, at a time when Web-enabled businesses were starting to pick up in the Middle East.
Backed by a small group of investors, our vision was to build an online platform for businesses to sell directly and conveniently to their customers. However, initially, we found it challenging to convince business owners to partner with us and adopt e-commerce. It was our shoppers that made a strong case for our business model and helped establish Souq.com as a popular and reliable online marketplace.
Within a few months of launching Souq, the brand became popular with consumers, and we saw orders increase exponentially. That’s when we realised we were on the right track. We saw an early hint of success when we saw people quitting their jobs to get into e-commerce fulltime by partnering with us and building their businesses on the Souq platform.
The early adopters and proponents of e-commerce were the younger generation of business owners and managers who believed in the potential of online shopping and were able to influence their senior management to consider new channels to offer their products. As a result, a large number of such traders began launching their products on our website instead of seeking brick and mortar channels. That inspired us to expand our marketing and logistics services to support and empower SMEs across the Middle East and North Africa.
Although we have always been proponents of the internet revolution and how it would become indispensable for businesses, we didn’t anticipate the speed at which it would impact business growth and how consumer behaviour would change with the explosion of bandwidth, internet-enabled devices and social media.
The mobile revolution was the game changer for every online business, and we, too, benefited immensely from a new generation of customers that were introduced to the internet and online shopping through their mobile devices. This also boosted the sales of mobile devices on our website, which in turn facilitated online browsing and shopping.