Biddi: e-commerce with a social touch
Biddi, the latest e-commerce website from the UAE, might have been taken for granted as just one of the many others of its kind operating in the virtual sphere – but don’t judge a book by its cover.
Launched last December, Biddi is an e-commerce website, but introduces a new social element to the formula, by which consumers and store owners can have a two-channel conversation, pretty much introducing in-store bargaining to the virtual sphere.
“On Biddi, you have the Facebook element: you have your own cover page, you can talk to the vendor and follow the vendor – more like Instagram – and see what new items have been posted, the latest colors or designs… You can have them let you know when your preference is available and the store owner will then notify you,” Carl Ghossoub, managing director at Biddi.com tells AMEinfo.
Users on Biddi can even ask to be notified when the price of an item has dropped to what they can afford or are willing to pay for it.
“It is like physically coming to the store and speaking to the salesperson, but it is all happening virtually… We have taken that conversation online and that’s what makes us different – the social aspect,” Ghossoub says, adding that there is no similar model available in any regional e-commerce website, one that combines the social aspect with the purchase process and takes a step away from being a pure e-commerce website.
Keeping up with consumers who are aware, informed and particular about what they want is an everyday challenge for businesses operating in the virtual sphere and Biddi’s team goes through this on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
“By having it as such an open community, we’re always changing and adapting; we change the homepage every month or so just to attend to the needs of our consumers,” Ghossoub says.
“You can be in the market for 25 years, but what consumers want, need and search for is changing on daily basis and it’s interesting to see what they want, how they browse and what they click on,” he adds.
Ghossoub notes that he and his team can never think they’ve finally got the right pattern of their consumers: they can have a “eureka moment, but, an hour later things change.”
He shares some of the generic trends captured on Biddi: “From a generic perspective, male users are predominant on the website, because the car, electronics and real estate verticals push that up.”
“But then, different sections are dominated by different demographics. For example, the For Kids section is dominated by parents buying for their children,” Ghossoub explains, saying that it varies every month.
“Surprisingly, our biggest category now in terms of purchases is For Kids, but Real Estate and Cars will always be the highest section in terms of visitors per page, because people like to spend a lot of time looking before purchasing an apartment or a car,” Ghossoub adds.
Citing general online trends, he says that users almost never buy an item on their first visit to the website and this is especially true to products of higher prices.
However, Biddi allows its consumers to lead the way.
“Consumers know what they want, when they want it and what to search for; with the amount of information available online, we need to capture that and talk to them,” he said.
However, this change is a daily task: “You need to be perfect and perfection is never achieved, so we try to adapt, be the best we can and always listen.”
Biddi recently launched Biddi Picks, where a store is selected and featured every two to three weeks.
“This could be a video about how they create the product, an ‘about them’ or galleries of what they do, etc. So, we try to voice the uniqueness and the difference,” Ghossoub says.
“Just by being in this space, we do have the commercial element, but we are more focused on the unique element,” he adds.
Products and services available on Biddi are divided into 20 categories: Arts & Crafts, Collectibles & Antiques, Entertainment, For Kids, Home & Garden, Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Computers & Tablets, Fashion, Games, Industrial, Office Supplies, Sports, Books, Electronics, Food & Groceries, Health & Beauty, Jewellery and Phones & Accessories.
When asked about having such a wide variety on the website and going for such a model instead of separated, niche formats, Ghossoub says that the “niche exists and will always exist, but what we’re trying to do is create a one-stop shop for everything. That is our framework. At Biddi, you can get used items, new items… whatever you want.”
He explains that Biddi somehow combines all the stores and dedicated niche spaces onto one platform, even allowing consumers to compare prices on the website.