Six e-store owners have teamed up in Saudi Arabia to form Ittejar, an alliance of e-commerce specialists seeking to help e-commerce startups across the country by offering support, advice, and other resources.
Challenges abound in Saudi Arabia for e-commerce startups, including finding reliable shipping services, paying customs, navigating regulations, and choosing where to locate your business. In an attempt to meet these challenges, the founders, Yazid Altawil, Mazen Darrab, Yasser Almisfer, Abdulaziz Homaily, Yasser Alnafissa and Hamad Alkhamis, have come together to exchange and share their experience.
“This is the first step in building an official group to offer recommendations to new entrepreneurs and unite the ecosystem as a whole,” says Altawil.
And the founders have already seen a ton of interest. “We’ve been receiving many requests from people who want to volunteer for the group,” adds Altawil. “We’re currently sorting the names and trying to find a way to let them collaborate in specific fields to join our efforts in accelerating Saudi e-commerce growth, either socially or commercially.”
Before starting the group, the founders noticed the absence of a public entity to support e-commerce in the country and decided to take it upon themselves to fill the gap. Currently, Ittejar organizes awareness events and e-commerce courses for online merchants or individuals to discuss how to grow their company, manage a team and develop their site, and increase the public’s interest in online shopping.
“We also want to work on exchanging expertise between local e-merchants and expand e-shopping to isolated areas in Saudi Arabia,” says Altawil.
The founders are funding the project’s activities out of their own pocket, but they’re looking for other partners to contribute, whether through mentorship or a financial contribution.
A Seal of Approval
To boost their message and influence, Ittejar has launched the Mothoq (which means reliable in Arabic) project which is a sort of seal of approval for e-commerce sites across Saudi Arabia.
The Mothoq website lists the e-stores that are deemed credible
and trustworthy by the Ittejar team of specialists. “Each website
is thoroughly evaluated by specialists based on strict standards to
ensure the best experience for shoppers,” says Altawil. Analyzing
products offered, delivery times, customer service and
responsiveness, Ittejar bestows a Mothoq certificate to each
approved e-store, who is then listed on the Mothoq website and can
place the Mothoq seal on their e-store. In cases where complaints
are made against an e-store, Ittejar reevaluates and the Mothoq
certificate can be rescinded.
So far, the Mothoq website includes more than 40 e-stores with a range of products. They continue to look for and review new stores as they pop up across Saudi Arabia.
Ittejar also plans to launch an online portal to gather and educate e-commerce entrepreneurs online, and later hopes to offer official consultancy services. “We hope that everybody, whether individuals, private or public sector, participate in the development of e-commerce, by giving discounted facilities to online merchants, or by offering low or even free services to anyone hoping to enter the market. Everybody has a role to play in this mission,” says Altawil
He goes on to explain their ultimate vision, “Our goal is to increase society’s awareness about the benefits of e-commerce, and to train individuals on how to purchase online, ultimately creating new employment opportunities in the growing field.”