“Nine out of ten of our customers use Android”

The Grid: Thank you for joining us today. We are keen to hear your insights into the e-commerce market space in the region from a hands-on, practical perspective.

Luma Bourisly: I’m happy to be here. Well, needless to say, this market is very different from other markets around the world, especially in terms of customer trust. The online shopper is not only hesitant to share credit or debit card details but also personal details such as address, phone numbers, age, and so on.

The Grid: Yes, concerns about privacy are certainly understandable. And why do you think they are so hesitant compared to other markets?

Luma Bourisly: It comes down to education I think. The good thing is that the airline industry has helped online shoppers become accustomed to buying airline tickets over the Internet, so the mindset and habits are indeed changing little by little.

The Grid: Until change kicks in, how does your business get around the prevailing mindset and habits?

Luma Bourisly: We accommodate it to the best of our ability by offering our customers multiple options. As you know, something like 80% of online shoppers in the UAE prefer to pay cash-on-delivery. In Qatar and Kuwait, that percentage is higher, with Saudi Arabia being the highest. Younger online shoppers, however, are more familiar with buying from Amazon and from other global marketplaces and are therefore more used to using payment gateways, and they regularly use their credit or debit cards online.

To get around this, and as a hybrid solution, we will start offering credit card payment services upon delivery of goods in addition to cash-on-delivery.

The Grid: How do logistical partners help or hinder the way e-commerce business is conducted in the region?

Luma Bourisly: They can vary greatly in terms of service and reach. Some only offer cash-on-delivery, while others only offer credit card payment upon delivery. There is little consistency. Also, every country is different in terms of consumer behavior. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, we see that, quite often, the online shopper does not like to receive a call about delivery or open the door for delivery personnel. They prefer to pick up the goods from a collection point. It is important to understand this behavior before entering a new market.

The Grid: How do most of your customers make purchases? Desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile, etc?

Luma Bourisly: Interestingly, we see that a lot of our customers browse our website on desktops during office hours. Think of them as virtual window shoppers browsing at their work desks during their lunch breaks. On the other hand, after office hours, more people are online on mobile devices, and we generally see more conversions or actual purchases during this time.

The Grid: iPhone or Android?

Luma Bourisly: Nine out of ten of our customers use Android. Again, it’s crucial to know this information when marketing your e-commerce business via apps. Also, there are some great reports on Analytics that show growth in the Egyptian and Saudi markets that are invaluable to us.

The Grid: What is key in your digital strategy?

Luma Bourisly: Segmentation! We see our clients falling into three main categories, each represent an age group.

The Grid: Ah, tell us more about each profile and their online purchasing habits?

Luma Bourisly: The first segment is the “Young Millennial”. She is in high school or college or around that age and a very important demographic to us. This is a segment we want to grow. Then there is the “Older Millennial”, who is around 24 to early 30s and represents the bulk of our current customers. Our focus is on retaining this demographic. Finally, there is the “Middle Aged Woman”, who is usually the mother or aunt of the other segments. She is somewhere between mid-30’s to 50. We tend to rely on the younger segments to introduce her to the world of online shopping through word-of-mouth.

The Grid: What makes online shopping so attractive for your three segments?

Luma Bourisly: It is a combination of variety, exclusivity, competitive pricing and the time we save for customers. The younger segment is more likely to look for new creative ideas that will make them stand out and make them happy. The older two tend to look for online deals so we make sure to offer sale items and special deals.

December 10, 2016

This is an extract from an interview with Luma Bourisly, Founder and Vision Creator, KOOOT e-Trading.

KOOOT.com is an online shopping and lifestyle destination for modern Middle Eastern women.

Interview by May Khizam, Founder and Chief Strategist, The Grid Meida Ltd 

This interview is provided as general information to readers of The Grid. It does not constitute, and should not be construed as, advice on any specific matter or advice on which you should rely, nor does it create any contractual, tortuous or fiduciary relationship. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information.