Shopping in the valley
Mr. Pratik Gupta, Managing Director and Co-founder of wadi.com. Alumnus, IMT Ghaziabad | Published: khaleejtimes.com
Pratik Gupta, director of operations at Rocket Internet-backed online fashion store Jabong, Ankit Wadhwa and Kanwal Sarfraz, executives at Mckinsey & Co, were well-aware of the flourishing e-commerce and online retail sector in developed countries.
At the same time, they realised that the e-commerce opportunity in the Middle East is still ripe, and the players are not mature.
“Having worked outside of the Middle East, we knew that the quality of online retail was much superior in terms of assortment, delivery and customer satisfaction in developed countries. On the other hand, we saw that the Internet population and per capita income in the GCC were significantly higher than other part of the world. We identified the gap for an online retail shop with an efficient delivery system and we took the initiative,” Gupta, co-founder and managing director of Wadi.com, says.
Just 10 months after its launch, the e-commerce portal raised $67 million (Dh246 million) Series A funding with Al Tayyar Travel Group as the lead investor.
“The funding enabled us to grow further within the region and deliver exceptional service to our customers. We are proud of having raised the largest funding in tech history of the Middle East,” Gupta says.
“We currently have offices in the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt and Lebanon with more than 8 functional warehouses and delivery centres established in KSA and the UAE.
Gupta says that Wadi.com has completed two years, and the journey has been brilliant. He says that 2016’s focus for Wadi was to strengthen the fundamentals of the business to position itself well against other competitive e-commerce sites.
“The challenges we have faced were nothing out of the ordinary, as every startup would. We started with a small amount, which we used very carefully to help us grow a name for ourselves and enable us to attract investor and thus raised the series A funding,” Gupta says. “As the brand name is growing, expectations are growing with it too. Exceeding those expectations will become more and more difficult, delighting a customer will be tougher and we will require to continuously innovate,” he says.
“Our focus on delivering exceptional deals and an exceptional customer experience across a wide range of categories is paying off. The faith our investors showed in us with our last raise only pushed the team to work harder. 2017 will be even more exciting – we will grow and innovate at a much faster pace.” says Kanwal Sarfraz, one of Wadi.com’s founders.
“We have observing Wadi.com since its launch and it has now become one of the main important e-commerce players in the Middle East within a very short period of time. The company has proven a strong capability to adapt to the market and build a huge portfolio of products. We are confident to see Wadi.com growing further, especially with the cargo and logistics support our group will be offering,” Abdullah bin Nasser Al Dawood, managing director and CEO of Al Tayyar Travel Group, said on February 14, 2016.
Ankit Wadhwa, co-founder and head of marketing, says the core of the business is to deliver products with remarkable prices with a smooth-running delivery service.
“We are one of the largest online stores with unique campaigns like best price money back guarantee, authenticity pledge, no questions asked returns policy, 24×7 customer service, last mile delivery, exclusive tie-ups with big brands and networks of delivery and warehousing. which makes Wadi the top destination for best products and the best services,” Wadhwa says.
Gupta says that lack of payment solutions was one of the main reasons for low growth rate for e-commerce in the region, “which is a saviour in an ecommerce developing countries. It has been working well for us.”
Being an e-commerce startup, Gupta believes that the technology’s role is pivotal.
“Technology is vital for us. We aim to stay ahead of the game and use everything that emerges to our advantage,” he says.
Gupta advises young startups to allocate their resources and use them wisely.
“Do not over spend on what is not necessary, set your KPIs and focus on them and don’t stay away. One of the biggest problems with startups is that they often spend all their money too fast, the strength is in maintaining the money and growing it and spending it where it is required,” he concludes.