Leading the Ecommerce Revolution
Project Manager:Joshua Mann
With early success in the retail industry, Tawseel Ecommerce Group (Tawseel General Trading W.L.L) continues to grow and evolve successfully as it moves into its 10th year. The Kuwait-based electronic commerce Company currently boasts the title of Kuwait’s largest online retailer, while also retaining its local identity, with sales and logistics offices in both Riyadh and Dubai.
In its present form, Tawseel Ecommerce Group owns and operates five websites: Sheeel.com, Digumz.com, Thouqi.com, Berwaz.com and Taw9eel.com; the latter being the Group’s first ever platform and subsequent market leader in the industry.
“Tawseel is Kuwait’s largest hyper e-store, with more than 20,000 items available to its customers,” comments Frank Berger, Chief Operating Officer at the Company. “We are able to offer great deals on electronics, groceries, beauty, fashion, wholesale products and much more; all of our Taw9eel products are delivered within four hours of purchase.”
Sheeel.com ships its products to nine countries in the Middle East, offering electronics, beauty, home and gaming products, consistently beating its competitors with both its online deals and day-to-day prices. Alongside Sheeel.com, Digumz.com has specialised as the Company’s dedicated website for the booming gamer community.
As a particularly prominent advocate of supporting home talent, Thouqi.com has experienced rapid growth within women’s fashion, offering chic styles from leading MENA designers for the MENA region.
“The success that we’ve experienced with Berwaz.com is an accolade that the Company is very proud of, now as the largest online marketplace for art and artists in the Middle East,” affirms Berger. “Our unique website serves consumers and artists alike, we offer our customers a wide range of beautiful photographs, paintings, calligraphy and graphics to choose from, while also providing artists with a safe platform to sell their work.
“A real differentiator for us is the additional facility we offer which allows customers to print and sell their own photographs or artwork at competitive prices; after opening in February, 2014, we now service nine countries in the Middle East.”
For the Company to remain competitive across all aforementioned sites in the ecommerce space, it is paramount that the levels of traffic throughout all sites maintains a healthy increase, and in 2016 Tawseel saw a strong 40 percent increase across all of its assets.
“We managed to do this while maintaining a focused customer acquisition scheme that improved our overall conversions,” explains Berger. “Our conversion rates improved by 20 percent to, on average, reach 4.7 percent overall. In some cases our channels’s conversion rates improved to 7.75 percent (Taw9eel iOS App).”
The launch of iOS and android apps for the Company’s major assets, Taw9eel and Sheeel, in 2014 is one of the many commitments that Tawseel has made a success of over a short space of time. Another example of its commitment was the promise made in 2013 to deliver all Taw9eel products within four hours of purchase all over Kuwait, which the Company has achieved, while maintaining its 24-seven service.
As you would expect with the growth of any company, particularly when it is focusing on selling into international markets, a new and innovative approach needs to be taken to attract new business.
“In Saudi Arabia we operate our own warehouse and sales team in Riyadh, which supports the large and varied needs of Sheeel.com when shipping to all destinations in Saudi Arabia,” says Berger. “The plan is to launch Taw9eel.com in Saudi Arabia and Riyadh by the second quarter of 2017, with a future focus on Egypt.
“Thouqi.com already ships its products worldwide and we intend to place more of an emphasis on our international marketing this year. We have a unique product offering that is well positioned for us to work with when it comes to international expansion.”
Appreciating the importance of a higher complexity that will arise in the Company’s move into international waters, Tawseel consistently endeavours to develop its technology and offerings. In 2015, the Company was working through the development process of its own search engine, working with a similar technology to Apache Solr.
“Continuing with this process in 2016, we implemented a complex, deep learning platform based on Apache Prediction IO, Spark and Zookeeper among other technologies,” continues Berger. “This is currently applied to product suggestions where we have seen an immediate impact on average purchase sizes; we plan to use this platform as a means of automating a large proportion of our on-site sales and marketing initiatives.”
Tried and tested
It is the nature of such a fast-paced industry that companies need to be dedicated to monitoring all new technologies and trends that are entering the market.
Berger explains: “When you miss out on technology, you’ll leave yourself very open to disruption and therefore the Company would experience losses or, even worse, being wiped out.”
Through close monitoring of the industry, Tawseel has recently found three points of interest to expand on. From a product development perspective, the democratisation of sellers which is currently occurring at a very fast rate in the Middle East and North Africa region is attracting a lot of attention from companies in this area.
“We have set up all of our platforms to benefit from this trend; small to medium sized suppliers, merchants, restaurants, artists and fashion designers can benefit from plugging into our various platforms, such as logistics, marketing and payment platforms with no upfront costs,” continues Berger.
From a logistical perspective, the automation Tawseel relies on is the key to driving Company costs down, and is an area of particular focus with new technologies being developed every day; therefore it is having to monitor this space to improve its efficiency, in particular with the previously mentioned target to deliver all orders within four hours of purchase.
“From a technology perspective, our main focus is on pursuing machine learning and big data. We have already built a strong machine learning platform but this is a field which is still in its infancy; for 2017 and beyond we will make continued efforts to develop this platform and implement it across all of our sales, marketing and decision making.”
Tawseel is making profound efforts to ensure that the Company is constantly aware of the main competitive advantages and unique selling points, by asking itself a few questions to establish if it is worth the Company’s time: How could the Company improve and protect the product? How could it acquire more USPs? Where did the product go wrong and why?
“Our future plans are then based on the answers we get from these questions; we will launch initiatives and experiment with those and tweak them, either with the intention to launch them with full backing or dump them and learn from our mistakes,” concludes Berger. “This is a tried and tested cycle in which we are honest with ourselves and nothing is too precious to be changed, improved upon or abandoned.”