The Kingdom’s first and only concept store “The Sada Shop” deems to be the leader in the world of online retail. The rising popularity of e-commerce prompted the one-of-a-kind online store to tap new the market of tech-savy consumers.
The Sada Shop offers a wide choice of exclusive brands, catering its Saudi consumers to have an enjoyable shopping experience within the comforts of their homes.
General Manager Nada Zagalli said, “We are a very healthy growing market, composed of a young, tech savvy generation as 50 percent of the Saudi population is under the age of 25 which is comfortable in the online world.”
Shying away from the idea of a physical concept store in the name of a more sustainable business model, Zagallai said: “With e-commerce transactions amounting to $3 billion from the Kingdom alone in 2010, a tech-savvy consumer society was identified, and an opportunity for creating a new platform for local retail was developed.”
Zagallai said the Sada Shop was an initiative of two Saudi female designers, namely, Sadeem Al-Shehail and Sara AbdulRahman. The duo were armed with an idea of creating a lifestyle outlet which would become a prime destination for young locals seeking design driven objects delivered to them comfortably.
For the very first time, Zagallai addresses the Saudi market in an exclusive interview with Saudi Gazette.
SG: How does the Sada Shop revolutionize shopping for the average online retail shopper in the Kingdom?
Zagallai: Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of online shopping involves the shipping time, but with the Sada Shop, Saudi shoppers benefit from short waiting period and an easy return policy. The Saudi Sada Shop shopper has access to a selection of carefully chosen international brands not found elsewhere in the market with best quality guaranteed.
SG: Who is your target audience?
Zagallai: The core of our target audience is the Saudi consumer, aged between 20-45, currently engaged in online shopping, which is estimated to be 12 percent of the population (3.1 million Saudis). We’re targeting design-savvy Saudi shoppers who are constantly seeking original and singular products and have an interest in a new shopping experience. While our initial focus is on the local market, we’re also seeking to attract users throughout the GCC and have already set-up for worldwide deliveries.
SG: What does Sada offer to their customers? How is it different from other buying options for online shoppers?
Zagallai: The Sada Shop offers the Saudi online shopper the local advantage, combined with international taste, variety, quality and service standards. While most other regional e-commerce businesses offer mass market products such as generic mobile devices or discounted brands, The Sada Shop caters to the niche shopper who is seeking something different.
We provide unique, design oriented accessories and products for homes, fashion, lifestyle, children and electronics, constantly updating our site with new brands and selections.
However, instead of having to pay high shipping fees and wait for long periods of time until the shipment arrives, The Sada Shop stocks its products locally in Riyadh, guaranteeing a smooth, fast and affordable delivery to the local customer. The Sada Shop’s customer service department is dedicated to catering to each customer’s needs, and offers a generous return and exchange policy to encourage purchases. Furthermore, we’re currently offering a free shipping promotion for deliveries within the Kingdom.
SG: Why online shopping? Tell us about the trends of online trading in that respect.
Zagallai: Many international as well as regional factors indicate that online shopping is just the next step for retailers in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia to be specific. Generally speaking, while most of the world’s economies suffered over the past couple of years, e-commerce businesses continued to experience growth despite financial constraints. Furthermore, the Middle East is currently the world’s fastest growing market, led by the Saudi consumer market.
Business Monitor International reported that retail sales in Saudi Arabia are expected to grow from $27 billion this year to more than $37 billion in 2015 due to strong economic growth. In addition, an Arab Advisor’s Group report estimated that that around 39 percent of adult Internet users in Saudi Arabia buy products and pay for services online (about 3.1 million users). Online shoppers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt spent $1.01 billion on Internet retail sites last year, according to the research firm Euromonitor International. All of these statistics are clear indicators that the Saudi consumer is ready to shop online.
SG: Your products are very retro chic. What gives your brand credibility and the chance to last?
Zagallai: Unique and functional design are the two main elements we seek to offer in all the products. However, while our product selections are driven by our passion for design, The Sada Shop brand encompasses much more than just the visual aspect. We describe The Sada Shop as the “Destination for Design,” because we believe in creating an experience that the user can arrive at, of which the visual aspect as well as quality are key components. We believe that while the visual attraction might entice the customer to engage with our brand, the experience, satisfaction and customized service are the key factors that will create a lasting impression and develop brand loyalty.
SG: How have you made lives easier for your online buyers?
Zagallai: Our frequent shoppers testify that we have indeed made their lives easier, especially those who are seeking gifts that are distinctive, and need them immediately. Instead of having to drive through traffic and go from one shop to another, strategically avoiding closing times, The Sada Shop has offered them an alternative one-stop shop with a variety of distinct choices, available 24/7, that delivers their purchases right to their door step. The online shopper doesn’t have to deal with pressures of being in-store; they can take their time to make their decision, and checking out is a simple and convenient process.
SG: What’s next for The Sada Shop? Do you plan to have a concept store or is the Web your platform?
Zagallai: Because of the novelty of the e-commerce industry in the Kingdom, The Sada Shop plans to continue to grow based on demand and market response. Plans for a brick and mortar shop are still further down the line, but at the moment we are seeking to enhance our online platform, with hopes of becoming a beacon and pioneer of operating an e-commerce business in the Kingdom, and maintaining international standards of service for our customers.
SG: How has the response been? What does that convey about the Saudi buyers?
Zagallai: The response has been very positive. While the products are the initial point of attraction, the experience, the personalized service, and the quality of products is what transforms a prospect into a repeat customer.
Although some Saudi consumers are still hesitant about using their credit cards online, they are relieved to find that we accept payment via wire transfer and that our customer service department will work with each customer to find a payment and delivery solution that suits them best.
Our experience has shown us that although the consumer might be hesitant to trust a new company, they are often eager to support a local brand. Furthermore, once they have placed the first order and had a taste of the instant gratification, they are eager and willing to commit to the brand and keep coming back for more!
Our experience has taught us one important fact: The Saudi consumer is savvy and always in search of new and exciting products and retail experiences.
SG: What does The Sada Shop plan to achieve?
Zagallai: We aim to lead as pioneers in the field of e-commerce in Saudi Arabia, leading the way forward in the industry and serving as a successful model to other young Saudi entrepreneurs hoping to venture into this challenging arena.
As a retailer, we aim to continue to source and provide imaginative and one-of-a-kind products from all over the world, offering the regional consumer direct access to these choices, through a smooth, fun and expedited web experience.