Today we are gonna discuss about the transformation of souq.com to Amazon.ae. What change could it possibly bring to us customers? We will also touch a bit on its impact for sellers and advertisers as well.
Souq.com was started back in 2005 by Ronaldo Mouchawar (mushahwar) and Samih Toukan (tukoun). It was initially an auction site and not an ecommerce portal as it is today. Souq got its initial traction from Maktoob. Yahoo Makhtoob if you don’t know, is a middle east version of Yahoo.com. Samih Toukan was also a cofounder of Yahoo Maktoob. Now you know how Souq and Maktoob are connected. It was in 2011, souq because an online market place similar to amazon. In 2017, souq was officially acquired by Amazon for 580 million US Dollars (ie,2.13 billion UAE Dirhams). Prior to this acquisition, there were also news about Emaar’s plan to purchase Souq. Emaar later started noon.com. Noon also has some interesting stories, but it might be controversial. So, let’s get back to souq. Even after the acquisition, souq continued its operations as usual. Apart from slight changes in the branding and logo, everything remained the same for customers. It was only recently, that souq made it mandatory to use Amazon credentials to login to Souq, which was a clear indication of souq’s migration to amazon.
Finally, the DDay has arrived – 1st of May 2019, Souq.com doesn’t exist anymore. But we have the exciting Amazon.ae opened for us. To be frank, it’s a proud moment for all UAE residents. We are officially an Amazon enabled country. Many would have visited Amazon.com or its sister websites like amazon.uk or amazon.in for multiple reasons – some for purchase, check product reviews, check international prices etc. But now every one of us can visit Amazon.ae for actual purchases from local and international vendors. So, let’s discuss about it, and its possible impact as a customer.
No 1) Amazon shopping experience. The same international shopping you enjoyed on Amazon.com is now available on Amazon.ae. The website looks and works the same. There are many reasons to be happy about it. Primarily, a Dubai based Startup like souq has grown enough to be the region’s amazon. Now visiting Souq.com will automatically redirect you to amazon.ae. Or you can also use, Amazon app on android or iPhone to place orders. All your souq data, has already been migrated to Amazon.ae. This includes your shipping addresses, your credit card details and even your purchase history.
2nd Reason – More Products – You get access to more international items on amazon.ae. The best part, so far is for the book lovers; you get a ton of book collection on amazon.ae. It claims 15 million titles to be made available on the new site. And, just for the stats, the total listed products on Amazon.ae are 30 million, including 5 million items from Amazon US.
3rd Reason, I would say, is Localization. Localization of a website means adapting it for a local culture and language. For Amazon, this had been quite a work, especially because it’s the first time for Amazon localizing their website and apps for an Arab market. Souq was already localized for Arab visitors.
4) Apart from this, Amazon have all features from souq.com; if not an improved version.
a) For instance, Amazon might have a better AI and Machine Learning system that learn the behavior of customers. This could give us even better recommendations for our purchases.
b) Another highlight feature is the Review Section. Amazon’s user base is so huge that it has got tons of reviews for each product. Product reviews on Amazon.ae includes reviews from UAE local customers as well as amazon.com.
d) The Shipping and payment part, remains the same. Free shipping available for “Fullfilled by Amazon” items if total purchase value is above 100 Dirhams.
Another awaited feature is Amazon Prime. But so far, no confirmation has been available on it.
Rest all remains same. So, we can just login right away, add to cart and check out.
Let’s also slightly touch upon from a seller’s perspective. The local vendors have now become part of a global platform. Of course, they will have a learning curve to get used to the new platform. But a greater challenge for them, I would say, is the entry of global vendors. I might be wrong here; But Global vendors sitting abroad can enter into UAE market. They can create a store on Amazon.ae, add their items and description; Amazon gets the content translated to Arabic for them. This breaks the edge local vendors had in the market.
Another interesting entity is the advertiser. You know that digital advertising is a big. Right! We search on google and it show us advertisements along with the search results. Same way, we search on e-commerce websites and they display ads along with the products. Now a person browsing on Amazon is a more valuable customer than google, because he searched on Amazon for making a purchase and not just search. So now you know, E commerce platforms are big advertising platforms. Souq’s advertising platform was open to all. But amazon allows, only its sellers to advertise. So, this is a big shift for advertisers.
And for your information, currently the Egypt and Saudi Arabia websites will remain as Souq.com, but definitely it will shift to Amazon sometime in the near future.