This post originally appeared on the JadoPado Blog and has been re-produced here to preserve the JadoPado historical record.
JadoPado went into a live beta on the 20th of March 2011. It took us about 6 months or so to go from idea to live.
JadoPado started off as a passing thought towards the end of September 2010 with the notion that perhaps e-commerce in the UAE and potentially across the region from a physical products perspective was a viable notion. So far — things are looking ok but we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.
We’ve learnt a lot of interesting lessons along the way, and I am sure that there are many more to come. Setting up the necessary infrastructure, getting a great team on board and battling the murky waters that is the payments market locally (and regionally) have been some areas in which we had to dive in, and at times come up fighting for air.
My initial thinking behind JadoPado was to build an alternative physical e-commerce experience that could straddle the physical world together with the online world. It’s not that this has not been considered and put together elsewhere, I felt like we were missing that really great wholesome experience that can be had in other markets.
We decided to focus on three main areas:
1. Exercise Control
I’ve been an Apple user / fanboy long before Apple re-modelled itself into this years media darling. Their ability to keep control of their entire supply chain and user experience is un-paralleled. From gorgeous industrial design to stunning UI, they keep upping the game by keeping as many things as possible in house.
Taking this approach to heart, we decided to keep our logistics function in house. We’ve put together a small fleet of delivery vans to allow us to maintain flexibility with our deliveries and to change things around rapidly as our approach to the market changes. In the longer term this allows us to keep a lid of delivery costs as order volume hopefully increases.
Our deliveries work on a slot mechanism. As a customer you’re given the choice of picking a single three hour time slot over the course of the next three days for your delivery including the current day. The aim is to provide a near “instant gratification” service — forcing you to re-consider whether that run to the supermarket or your big box retailer is worth the hassle.
To ensure that we’re able to hit our delivery timeframes we’ve had to take an approach to have everything that we sell available in inventory. At times this has proven to be quite difficult as our competitors are able to adjust pricing on products that they don’t actually have in hand — but supply on order. And at other times we’ve had to get creative with who we work with so that as a startup we don’t have to pour money into holding inventory.
2. User Experience
I feel like we have a number of me-too experiences in the local e-commerce space. No one has really pushed their user experience or even their user interface to really embrace the user and to provide them with a simple and easy to use experience. It’s been easier to not bother on one hand, and on the other a me-too experience is easy and cheap to bring to market.
It isn’t that the talent doesn’t exist to put it in place, or that you can’t use out of the box tools or platforms as your base (you don’t have to re-invent the wheel), it just that it hasn’t happened yet.
We designed our entire experience in house. We initially spent a long time drafting and looking at other experiences outside the region to see what worked, what didn’t and what we felt was right for us. In my view the design process will never end, we tweak things constantly and will continue to do so. The hardest part is knowing what to leave out.
3. Great Customer Support.
I’ve spent 25 years in the UAE, and over the years I’ve had many retail experiences that I felt could have been so much more. Why do we have to deal with non-existent return policies? Why are businesses able to sell to us but are unable to offer proper after sales support?
By no means do I think we’ve got the magic bullet to fix all woes that customers experience locally and regionally, but I think our hearts are in the right place.
Our return policy on most items is 60 days, with the major exception being Electronics & IT where it’s 15 days. We’re trying to get a full 1 year warranty in place — even on items that are considered imports or “grey market” (bad terminology!) products — by working on getting the right service mechanisms in place.
The hard part is executing it successfully as the business grows — but I am hoping that every single one of us will have the same mentality built in rather than bolted on.
Thank you for giving us a look. I hope that over the next few weeks, months and years that you’ll give us a hand as we try to build a company that both you and I would want to do business with.