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Souq.com Plots MENA Black Friday Sales Weekend

MENA Online retailer looks to follow the success of behemoth Alibaba, which generated $9 billion worth of e-commerce sales during China's recent Singles Day.

Online retailer Souq.com has announced plans to bring one of America’s biggest shopping days to the Middle East in a bid to boost e-commerce.

The company’s ‘White Weekend” will take place from November 27 to midnight on November 28, around the time of the traditional Black Friday weekend in the US, with the goal of boosting sales by providing discounts to consumers.

A similar concept in China, known as Singles Day, recently saw online giant Alibaba generate $9 billion worth of e-commerce sales in one day.

Souq.com hopes to generate 10 million site visits, with more than 250,000 discounted items during the period. While declining to reveal figures, CEO Ronaldo Mouchawar said he expected to achieve 10 days of sales in one day.

“We have done tests to reach two to three times daily sales but to reach 10 times requires quite a bit of infrastructure and that’s more in place this year than before,” said Mouchawar. “But most of all the partners are ready, the formidable names that we’re working with, be it the global brands or local telcos, there is just so much more awareness about online shopping now than before.”

The site has partnered with companies including Etisalat, du, Apple, Samsung, Sony, LG, Huawei, Pepsi and Microsoft for its White Weekend deals.

Souq.com has also boosted its headcount to over 2,000 employees to cope with orders for the weekend, with additional warehouse space rented.

While the company is launching the initiative on its own this year, Mouchawar said he wanted to make the concept a “phenomenon” by working with partners next year.

White Weekend is part of Souq.com’s push to encourage more MENA internet users to shop online, with under around a quarter of the region’s 110 million users estimated to engage in e-commerce.

The online retailer is one of the region’s largest e-commerce sites, claiming to attract 52 per cent of the UAE’s online shoppers.

Mouchawar revealed that Souq.com sells 250,000 smartphones each quarter, while the site’s average spend per user annually is Dhs987.

The company is forecasting 400 per cent sales growth over the next two years, while forecasting 100 million site visitors per quarter by the end of 2015, although it does not disclose financial figures.

In March Souq.com secured a further $75 million of funding from existing investor South African internet service company Naspers, bringing its total funding raised to $150 million.

By Robert Anderson 16 hours ago
Gulf Business