The platform has revolutionised e-commerce in UAE and there’s still more new land to conquer.
Backed by ASA Ventures and a collection of private investors, ZON has closed its seed funding round at $8 million, making it the largest seed funding round the UAE has ever seen.
As the first fully decentralised mobile e-commerce platform in the Middle East, ZON boasts over 32,000 sellers in its network and claims to be the ‘cheapest and fastest’ platform of its kind - customers can get their order anywhere in the UAE in less than three hours.
Through in-storage order fulfillment, dynamic pricing and image-based pre-purchase stock validation, the firm does away with the need for cataloguing and large-scale centralised warehousing and packaging.
ZON aims to be the largest e-commerce fulfilment center in the world and is working on a solution that can accumulate, analyse and fulfill orders based on real time data of inventory across every product category regardless of the size of the seller. Saqib Barim, the co-founder, explains that, “Big market places offered all small retailers that they can now be online. Digital transformation was supposed to be all inclusive and millions of sellers signed up, thinking it was a solution for them to generate more business. Platforms that were supposed to put 100% of retailers, wholesalers and distributors online, have only seen 9% of signups of which only 3% are active marketplace sellers.”
So what happened to 97% who are not benefiting from the digital transformation?
“The problem is that the centralised big marketplaces are based on price factor,” Barim explains. “Their Proposition was that if you can sell the cheapest or if you can guarantee product availability by stocking it in centralised warehouse you will sell. 97% of distributors don't want to work on complicated dashboards and take professional pictures to upload on the market place.”
Subsequently, ZON has created a marketplace that is all inclusive. Their model factors in location, delivery speed, quality of service and transparency of brand and leaves choice for the consumer to decide.
In the first ten-day pilot, they managed to sign up three times more active sellers to their platform than the biggest market place in the region was able to sign up in 16 years. Even before launching, the platform had six times more products in their system than the biggest marketplace. And in their two-month pilot phase, they found that they are five times faster to deliver products and on average they are 14% cheaper across all products.
Their central premise is the decentralisation of e-commerce fulfillment, doing for e-commerce what Uber did for cabs.
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