The e-commerce sector in Morocco has truly boomed in the last 2 years. We've seen a particularly large influx of e-commerce sites, especially Daily Deal websites and the entry of big players like Rocket Internet.
With an “e-commerce and distance selling” (internet, phone, mail) market evaluated at 504.2 million MAD (~US $58 million) in 2011, and more than 102,000 online shoppers (among 16.3 million internet users, according to FNEM, the National Federation of E -commerce in Morocco), the growth potential is quite large. According to FNEM, over 670 active e-commerce websites in Morocco have completed a total of over 1.29 million online transactions in 2011 (a 230% increase from 2010), with an average online transaction of 750 MAD (~ US$87).
It is this Moroccan e-commerce wave that talented web entrepreneur Kamal Reggad has decided to surf, first founding now-famous daily deal site Hmizate, and then, not content with its success alone, launching Hmall.ma, the first e-marketplace in Morocco.
A few days ago, the 30-year-old entrepreneur agreed to open the doors to the headquarters of Hmall.ma and Hmizate.ma for an interview. Here Kamal discusses entrepreneurship, e-commerce in Morocco, and his plans and his ambitions. [Editor's note: Hmall resembles Jordan's Dokkankom, which was an online eBay-style storefront for offline vendors, more so than Egypt's Bkam, or Jordan's Mallna, which automatically aggregate online products.]
From Hmizate.ma to Hmall.ma
- What is Hmall.ma?
Launched in late June 2012, Hmall.ma is the first online marketplace in Morocco that brings offline vendors online. Products are listed in different categories (including hi-tech, fashion, and home goods) at a discounted price. Every single product is screened manually before it is listed on the site, to make sure we offer the most competitive prices and the necessary product details to make shopping as easy and fun as possible. We also offer our customers shipment to every city in Morocco within 48 hours; our primary focus is optimizing logistics with our suppliers in order to minimize delivery times.
- How did come the idea to develop Hmall.ma?
Hmall.ma was born out of our experience with Hmizate.ma. We learned that the Moroccan consumer is not only interested in service-oriented deals, but also wants to shop for physical goods, looking for variety, competitive prices and the convenience of having goods delivered directly to their doors. As of October 2012 we had over 2,500 SKUs (SKU: Stock-keeping unit) with a goal to reach 7,000 SKUs by the end of the year.
- What are the synergies between Hmizate.ma and
Definitely, even though the teams are separate, they collaborate on many levels, including customer service and sales; many of our suppliers work with both sites.
- What is your perspective on e-commerce in Morocco
in general? In MENA?
With more than 7.3 million bank and credit cards (out of a population of around 32 million, for a penetration rate of 23%), 72% growth in e-commerce in 2011, and the highest internet penetration rate in Africa at over 50%, Morocco is an attractive market for e-commerce. Another important factor is that 70% of online transactions are made using bank or credit cards, as opposed to offline payment methods such as cash on delivery (COD) or cash at a point of sale (POS). Apart from daily deals, which is a saturated sector in the Moroccan e-commerce market, there are plenty of e-commerce opportunities.
- How is it to be an entrepreneur? Difficult?
It is the best job in the world! Every day is different; there are a lot of ups and downs, it's an emotional roller coaster. It’s great when people are liking your product, but it can be stressful when something is not working out.
- Could you please share some advice for people who
are willing to become entrepreneurs in Morocco, in MENA?
There has never been a better time to get started in Morocco. The first couple of months are the toughest, with long sleepless nights, and uncertainties about how consumers will react to your product, but it only gets better with time as long as you learn what the consumer wants and adapt your product to the local market.
- Do you plan for more e-commerce, tech or non-tech
projects in the future?
No; as of now we have our hands quite full with Hmall.ma.
[VIDEO] Watch our exclusive interview with Kamal Reggad, founder of Hmizate.ma and Hmall.ma