A shopping trend that’s been growing in Egypt recently is the “Open Day.” Someone, usually a female, buys or creates a batch of niche products that are not available in the high-street shops. Then they open their house for a day for others, usually more females, to browse and buy. This is the building block of the new start-up OpenDayz that launched a few months ago.
Founder Noha El-Shazly explained how the idea came about. "During the Egyptian revolution, it was clear that stores are not interested in investing and bringing new collections, while local businesses were trying to compete by making or exporting great products at a very competitive price. These stores had a challenge in marketing their products and reaching big segment. The delivery and cash collection was also a problem facing these local businesses.”
Noha admits that the revolution played a key role in the creation of the business. “The current political climate helped us to get this startup on its feet, since the start-up was built with the aim to help local businesses in such hard times and give buyers accessibility to good products at a reasonable price without even having to leave the comfort of their living room.”
OpenDayz is from the first batch of companies to come out of the incubator Tahrir2. Incubation seems to have worked wonders for the startup thus far. “From a concept idea to a launched product that is having clients and a revenue stream, it took us three months," Noha illustrated.
The website looks fresh and has all the basic functionality we’ve come to expect from such e-commerce sites, although the “contact seller” button reveals the actual email address of the seller. But OpenDayz might not be worrying too much about their customers bypassing the site and contacting the sellers direct because they get the majority of their revenue from store subscriptions.
The range of products available is also what would be expected from an “Open Day,” namely fashion, cosmetics, home furniture, kitchenware, and toys. OpenDayz has direct competitors, the biggest of whom is Souq.com, as Souq prides itself that about a third of their sellers are small independent businesses. Noha has already thought of this. “I only focus on local home and small businesses, which in most times do not get the opportunity to be featured on such websites beside big brand names and stores," she says. "We believe that this niche market is not served and underestimated.”
They’re active and have become known in the community, by attending and even helping to organize open-day events, bazaars & exhibitions. This personal touch could prove to be an important differentiator; in fact, Noha said that what has given her the most joy so far is knowing that OpenDayz has “participated in helping a local business to grow and satisfy their customers.”
It’s true to say in an expanding market there’s room for many competitors to grow, but a niche provider like OpenDayz will live and die by the exclusivity of the products they feature. So for now, OpenDayz looks like it’s on solid ground, especially as they plan to expand to other Arab countries where small businesses continue to be under-served by the big e-commerce sites.