MENACatalyst reached out to Jack Malouf, founder and CEO of the e-commerce platform Deelzat, to learn how this promising new startup is helping local businesses enter the digital age of online shopping while tapping into strategic new market segments.
What is Deelzat and how does it work?
Deelzat is a socially integrated e-commerce platform specifically geared towards Middle Eastern markets. Simply put, we are a platform where sellers create profiles to put their products online without having to deal with any of the logistics. When a buyer places an order on a small business’ online shop via the Deelzat platform, we pick it up and deliver it for them.
We are targeting anyone who wants better exposure for their products online, as well as individuals who want greater access to purchase products and have these products delivered. At its core, Deelzat allows entrepreneurs to reach their maximum potential while giving consumers options they never realized they had.
Where did the idea for Deelzat come from and what inspired you to turn it into a reality?
I founded Deelzat with two of my lifelong friends who grew up in the West Bank but moved to the United States to pursue graduate degrees. After returning to Ramallah, I wanted tobring the same e-commerce luxury experienced in the United States back home to Palestine. I also wanted my favorite shops to have more exposure after I realized that over 90 percent of West Bank businesses have little to no online presence.
What problem are you solving for local and regional markets?
The problem we are solving is multifaceted. First, we want to give local entrepreneurs a platform to sell their items online without having to worry about fulfillment. And again, over 90 percent of businesses in the West Bank have no online exposure, so we are hoping to greatly reduce this statistic as the importance of being online as a business in our modern society is invaluable.
Second, we want to give consumers greater access to products and fast delivery. Since such a large proportion of regional businesses have no online presence, consumers often don’t know the best place to purchase the products they demand. So, we want them both to have the option to purchase such items and have them delivered right to their front door.
What are some of the main obstacles you are facing and how are you addressing them?
Our biggest obstacle has been dealing with the logistics of delivery in the West Bank. To help alleviate this, we brought a logistics expert onto the team, who brings with him over 12 years of experience. Additionally, we are working with another delivery startup based right here in the West Bank to help get items to customers as quickly as possible.
Where is Deelzat based, and how long have you been established for?
Our startup is based in the West Bank, and while we have not released our product to the public, we have been working on building the team and MVP for over a year. However, we are ready to launch our product in the first half of June 2020.
Can you talk about the team behind the startup?
In addition to my role as CEO, there are our two other founders, COO Arab Barghouthi and CDO (data officer) Ibrahim Sweiss, along with CTO Jamil Iseed, and CMO Jamal Abu Ghoush. We also have a dedicated team working to ensure the optimal delivery of all of our services, and would like to acknowledge them as well as our business partners and the community that we are building.
How do you spread the word about Deelzat?
We market ourselves as the “E-World for Entrepreneurs.” This slogan illustrates us as the first place businesses within our market should go to increase their online presence and expand their markets. We want to help bring communities to the next level by giving them a whole new platform to market and sell their products.
Deelzat intends to provide all services related to eCommerce. From weekly reporting and data to logistics and delivery, we want to enable anyone and everyone to sell online with only a few clicks, and Deelzat will fulfill the rest. We believe by enabling sellers on our platform, we will increase the variety of products, and prices which will guarantee a good user experience for the buyer to shop around.
Where do you see Deelzat in the upcoming years, and what are you doing to get there?
Within the next few years, we aim to be operating in multiple countries throughout the Arab region. We plan to accomplish this by creating local teams in each market to help create personalized success plans for each market.
Additionally, we are hoping to further access to international products for consumers. Within the next few years our goal is to give our customers the availability to purchase millions of products from all over the world. With this, we want to bring shipping times down as much as possible as consumers currently wait over a month to receive many international packages in our target markets. We plan to achieve this by establishing supplier centers in targeted locations.
What is the impact you are working to achieve?
Our vision is to enable every entrepreneur to have all the resources available to reach their maximum potential, while opening up a whole new world of products to buyers. We were able to start our business by the communities who invested their time and resources into our development, so we seek to emulate this by creating a platform to further connect our community together through e-commerce.
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