Too many digital start-ups try to use technology to optimise first and then scale operations, when they should be doing it the other way around, according to Ronaldo Mouchawar, the founder and CEO of SOUQ, which earlier this year became Amazon.ae.
“SOUQ started out as Souq.com, and was tailored for desktop,” he told the audience during ‘TECHCHAT with Leaders - What's next: Aspirations for the next decade’ on the Keynote Stage at Za’abeel Hall 4 during GITEX Technology Week 2019.
But, in 2012, when SOUQ noticed a sudden spike in growth in mobile usage, it developed its first app.
“The app was really an afterthought, we outsourced it and didn’t make much of an effort, it was ill-suited to our needs,” said Mouchawar. “We were more focused on building our merchant relationships, getting more products and deals onto the site. It wasn’t until 2014 that we decided to become a mobile-first company.”
The souq.com logo was changed, along with the name of the company, to SOUQ, for better mobile display, and a new app was launched, through which the company has grown its mobile traffic to account for 80% of all interactions.
“Now we’ve become part of Amazon, and although we’re still very much a local brand with local same and next-day delivery options, we’re also able to offer access to, for example, a selection of 50-million books with free shipping to the region within three days,” explains Mouchawar.
“Now we’re looking at optimising the app for search and discoverability, but none of it would be possible if we hadn’t first scaled-up our item selection and our mobile ability.”