Almost everyone loves a good bargain and in this context, price comparison sites play a huge role in the consumer buying cycle. In simple terms, comparison sites collect product data (pricing and SKU level details) from various eCommerce sites and then display that collective information depending on the buyer’s search query.
That way, buyers get access to a page which displays information in an easy-to-consume manner and zero in on the offer that provides the best value. These sites are highly crucial for any retailer, as the users of price comparison sites are the ones who have already decided that they would be purchasing a product, unlike window shoppers who are visiting shopping sites.
Coming to the Middle Eastern eCommerce space, there is no doubt that this region has tremendous growth potential; the same has been proved via international investment flow and the efforts made by top companies across the globe to capture the market share. Dandan.me is a bold and commendable initiative in the ME region, considering its aims to become a price comparison platform with the most extensive range of merchants, products and brands.
Recently, PromptCloud partnered with Dandan.me to help them with their eCommerce product data acquisition requirements. We caught up with Dani Ariss, Managing Director and Founder of Dandan to gain a better understanding of their platform and the market in the ME region.
Q.1 Please give a brief introduction of Dandan.me and explain how it’s going to help the shoppers.
Dandan.me is launching soon, and is expected to be the most comprehensive price comparison website in the Middle East and Africa, with over 10 million products, 50,000 brands and 300 vendors. One of our aims is to raise awareness about the benefit and the huge role price comparison websites play in the e-commerce sector worldwide.
To achieve that, in a market with very limited understanding of the sector, Dandan.me provides a full online shopping-like experience where customers are presented with a list of prices for their chosen product from different vendors, saving them the time to check the price on each vendor’s website.
In other words, they would use their knowledge of online shopping, but instead of purchasing the item on Dandan.me, they select their optimal vendor and they are instantaneously redirected to that vendor’s website. Shoppers would gain a user-friendly platform that saves them both time and money while helping them fulfil their daily shopping needs in the most efficient way.
Q 2. According to you, what are the biggest challenges in the eCommerce sector in the Middle East?
In my opinion, the biggest challenge in e-commerce in the Middle East region is also its biggest opportunity, for vendors and customers alike, and that’s the lack of well-established vendors that portray confidence and provide healthy competition to the growing number of online users. In a market with a GDP of over 2T$, only one vendor dominates the industry, and it only operates in 5 countries. That vendor has over 25 times the number of products than its closest competitor.
This leaves room for many ambitious ventures that we have seen rising recently. Now is the time to ride the wave, especially with the growing number of investors looking to grow with this market. It’s looking good, I’m optimistic about this sector’s future, and the worldwide attention it has been receiving.
Q3: In one of our published articles, we discussed Amazon’s entry in the Middle East and how it’s going to affect other players. Could you share some of your ideas on how local players can tackle Amazon?
Amazon’s entry to the Middle East through Souq’s gate gave rise to many concerned voices as well as welcoming ones. In my opinion, Amazon’s venture is the biggest proof that the Middle East is now on the world map of the fastest-growing markets. And now, we are invited to play in the big league.
The Middle East is not short on investors, or on talents. This is the right time for us to build and compete against the largest giant who’s now playing on our field, under our rules. I invite all those interested to take advantage of Amazon’s “arrival” to the region. Consumers now have a higher trust, a bigger understanding, and a larger spending appetite in the e-commerce sector. All thanks to Amazon.
To summarize my point, we, as Middle Eastern entrepreneurs, should be building on the success of Amazon in the region, by utilizing the opportunities we’ve been given (by Amazon itself, investors, talents and hopefully government support) to be part of the history now being shaped for the industry’s coming decade.
Q 4: What’s your take on omnichannel retail and how does it work in the Middle East?
Omnichannel is inherently focused on customers and their needs. Now, more than ever, Middle Easterners welcome this approach and align it with their shopping and spending habits.
Q5: What are some of the most compelling eCommerce campaigns you have experienced till now?
First, let me tell you the reason behind my favourite campaign, and then I’ll let you know which one it is.
One of the most difficult challenges we have faced as a price comparison startup in this region is the public’s limited knowledge of aggregators and price comparison websites. As a means to reach this large fraction of the online demographic, we spent a considerable amount of time and resources into building an educational advertising campaign that would introduce our targeted audience to those concepts.
Just before we had the chance to publish our campaign, trivago began advertising for their services in the region. And it was very obvious that they were having the same difficulties we were having. Their focus was on education first, and on their brand second.
I couldn’t be happier. It was, yet again, a story of a global player penetrating our market, and paving the road for us Middle Eastern startups to take advantage of their success without having to compromise on our limited budgets and narrow audience reach. Even though trivago is a competitor that we struggle to keep up with, credit must be given where credit is due. Without those all-star players raising the bar so high, the Middle East eCommerce sector would have been stuck in the age of bootlegging music and TV shows.
Q 6: From a business standpoint, what are your goals this year?
We are expecting Dandan.me to gradually pick up traction during the second half of 2017. Meanwhile, we are aiming at cementing our reputation as the most comprehensive price comparison website in the Middle East, by adding more vendors and services. Expanding our reach to more countries, as well as ventures with other multinationals, are also in the pipeline.
Q 7: What prompted you to choose PromptCloud? How did PromptCloud solve your business problem with the data extraction services?
Affiliate marketing channels are not common practice in our region, thus the difficulty in obtaining the required quality data to build our database. With PromptCloud, it became evident that focus on quality and timeliness were paramount. They have helped us grow our business without compromises.