How the Arab World "Amazon for Moms" is Proving the Value of E-Commerce

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Shortly after becoming a mom, Mona Ataya felt the frustration, confusion and challenges most moms and moms-to-be face while trying to figure out where to go for baby shopping, what brands and products to choose from, and if the prices are fair.

But Ataya, who helped start job search giant Bayt.com, didn’t just consult friends to solve her dilemmas; she started Mumzworld, a one-stop online marketplace for everything mother, baby and child.

Launched in October 2011, Mumzworld aims to become the gold standard of e-commerce in the region, empowering parents and specifically mothers to make good decisions for their babies after searching for items, comparing prices, and being sure they are making good decisions. It currently lists over 200 brands around the world—and growing.

"We like to think of ourselves as the Amazon for Moms of the MENA region", says Ataya.

Targeting women in the MENA has been difficult for online marketers in the past years, but with women accounting for US $246 billon of the region's wealth, it’s a prime market. The 72 million online users in the Middle East Online are turning more and more to online shopping, says Ataya, with annual online sales in the UAE alone hitting US$2 billion in 2010.

With easy logistics solutions coming on board, e-commerce is simpler than ever, making Mumzworld a good way for brick-and-mortar retailers to reach mothers and parents. "We showed retailers and distributors the online market status and numbers and the importance of reaching the mothers. A lot of local retailers are hungry to get online and they don't know how to do it, so this was a way for us to go to them and help them," Ataya explains.

Indeed customer demand has exceeded the small team’s expectations. The team of four started working on the business plan in May 2011, the company was established in August, and by December the team grew to 18. They expected to have a few hundred clients by January 2012, but today, to their surprise, Mumzworld has 8470 registered consumers and just over 70,000 monthly visitors. "We had sales from day one," describes Ataya, "and we were able to saturate the UAE market in less than a month."

Mumzworld has carved out its success partly by providing excellent customer service. The site, which operates throughout the Middle East and North Africa as well as in several countries around the globe, offers delivery times ranging from one to three days in the UAE, and 7 to 10 days regionally, as well as competitive prices, a "tantrum-free” return policy. It will also extend its free local delivery from the UAE to the rest of the Gulf and Lebanon this month.

The site has also leveraged Ataya’s experience at Bayt.com, as her knowledge of distributors and the regional e-commerce market allowed Mumzworld to hit the ground running. Solid seed funding didn’t hurt either.

In the future, Ataya plans to launch the site in Arabic, enter the Saudi market, and create more on-the-ground presence in various markets to speed up delivery even further. The site also plans to become an online community where parents can share their experiences, and plans to expand its affiliations with daycare centers, nurseries and hospitals who want to sell services on Mumzworld.

With no direct competitors in the e-commerce space, Mumzworld is looking to lead the market. The time is now, says Ataya. "The world is moving online and this region is catching up, if you are not in e-commerce in the next few years you are not really in business.” 

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