Delivering packages on time has long been an obstacle in the Middle East due to the absence of recipient’s formal address. This has been both time and money consuming for businesses and has caused delay in delivery or package lost. But, this is no longer the case. Fetchr, the first top tier Silicon Valley funded app in MENA has helped e-commerce businesses overcome delivery barriers. In this exclusive interview with InBusiness.ae, Idriss Al Rifai, CEO & Founder and Joy Ajlouny, Co-Founder, Fetchr tell us how this application eliminates the hassle from sending and receiving packages by using mobile phones as physical addresses.
How is Fetchr transforming smartphones into real addresses?
Fetchr uses your smartphone’s GPS location as your address. Our sophisticated technology uses your mobile’s geo-location as your physical address to deliver packages to you. We overcome the biggest problem in the region of “lack of street addresses” with our technology. Our vision is to ensure that every customer in the region can receive a package on-time with a hassle free shipping experience.
What inspired you to launch this application?
It’s simple- the frustration of multiple phone calls to get a package delivered to you! The lack of a proper address system in the region is something I experienced first-hand when I was running Bonfaire, a luxury e-commerce platform. I was surprised by the number of orders we were receiving from the Middle East, but what was even more shocking was the high return rate of packages because of the incomplete and vague addresses.
When Idriss and I first met at a conference in the U.S., he was talking about tackling this challenge in the MENA region. We decided to team up together and tackle this problem head-on! Thus the idea of Fetchr was born.
Which territories does it cover?
Currently we operate in the UAE, KSA, Bahrain and Egypt. We will continue to expand rapidly throughout the year and you will be seeing us across the GCC soon.
What are the main challenges that you encounter?
As an entrepreneur in the Middle East, my biggest frustration is the amount of red tape in the region. It’s frustrating to spend thousands of dirhams on acquiring trade licenses, visas, documentation and the several other procedural steps before you can even start your company here. Another challenge remains the limited pool of talent- as a start-up you want to hire smart, intelligent and driven people, and that’s hard to find.
How would you assess the evolution of e-commerce in MENA region?
There is no better region than MENA to be in right now! The e-commerce market is growing rapidly here, and in the next 5 years I believe it will be booming. The high smartphone penetration rate and the ease of access to the internet creates a huge opportunity for e-commerce and there is no better time than the present to enter this market and capitalize on this opportunity.
What did you do differently to reinforce this type of commerce on social media?
I think in today’s day and age, social media has become the most lucrative way to reach your audience. Everyone is now on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Our marketing is very young, fun and relatable. We want people to see us not just as a logistics company, but really as a company that will take care of anything you need- we can Fetch and deliver wherever you are!
How is Sellr facilitating the process of small businesses in the retail industry?
Sellr is targeted at social media sellers who typically use Facebook, Instagram and any other social media channel as a platform to market and sell their products. We help small businesses by removing the challenges that are typically encountered at the point of sale. We provide an easy check-out solution so sellers do not have to worry about getting their products in the hands of their customers. They can focus on providing a high quality product rather than a high quality shipping experience- we take care of that! We have seen a tremendous response to our Sellr service, and I believe we’re going to continue to grow rapidly in this area.
What are your plans for the next two years?
In the next two years, we plan to expand aggressively across the MENA region and offer our services in every market in the region. We want to revolutionize the logistics industry with the power of technology. We’re always working on launching new products and services to improve the customer experience.