Do you still believe that offline commerce and e-commerce are 2 different worlds? (Not accepting No as an answer.)

Today I’ll talk about modernizing retail and I’ll be zooming on a regional Shopify in the making… guess who.



Becoming a regional Shopify… and modernizing retailers along the way

We’ve been with this startup from a very early stage; 3 tickets in total, the latest went into their recently announced Series B.


They began in 2017 with a traditional SaaS model and later shifted to SaaS+/Marketplace. Being in B2B Saas for SMBs enabled them to reap the rewards from the network effect and aggregate the demand. The growing demand then led them to build their own set of products – ZidShip, ZidPay and ZidApp Market – through which they were able to offer their merchants better prices and offerings, while providing their partners with continuous demand…


Now you know who I’m talking about. Zid.


Bricks and clicks


In the past, there was a misleading assumption that e-commerce shut down the real stores. “People used to believe that you open your online store to close your offline shop,” told me recently Mazen AlDarrab, the founder of Zid.


Well, the pandemic did turn online retail into the bread and butter of many offline retailers. In most cases, online was the only way to reach out to their customers. But online was more than that; it helped retailers analyze what their customers actually want and require. And then people returned to the physical stores, and the boundaries of e-commerce and offline commerce became forever blurred.



Enabling modern retail


“I started to disbelieve in e-commerce – unfortunately… or fortunately,” Mazen told me. Zid strongly believes there isn’t just “e-commerce” or “traditional commerce”. It’s modern retail, where all channels can be managed and optimized from one place with one partner. At the centre of modern retail is the customer and the merchant. And their experience.


The company’s Series B round signals a very important expansion in Zid’s vision, which is moving from being “an e-commerce enabler” to “a sector enabler”. That means Zid’s role has been extended beyond just offering and unlocking online/digital channels.



Factors of modern retail


Factor A: Active use of data in aiding and making business decisions
Factor B: System integration and/or synchronization within the retail cycle
Factor C: Improved marketing performance through data
Factor D: Omnichannel sales with synergies
Note: These factors are not independent and usually two of them are at force.




Factor A: Active use of data


A famous discount shop Riyal Al Barakah (KSA) – a similar concept to Poundland in the UK – was initially strictly offline (11 branches). They launched their online store 2 years ago to serve cities and regions where they didn’t have offline presence. The online sales data they collected ever since has guided them in selecting the right locations for their future branches. In other words, the data enabled them to make their business decisions with more accuracy and confidence.


Factor B & C: System integration & Improved marketing


A store for bathroom supplies Reefi (KSA) started with Zid 4 years ago. Back then they were just an Instagram account with no offline footprint. Zid helped them reduce their marketing spending by analyzing the customer data and utilizing API conversion integration between Zid and Snapchat. Reefi got a better ROI on their marketing activities and today they’re planning on opening 15 offline stores.



Factor A & D: Active use of data & Omnichannel sales


A leading poultry producer Entaj (KSA) started their D2C during covid. Prior to that, they used to have one business model: selling indirectly to grocery stores. Today they’re not only selling directly to the end-customers through their online store, but they have also acquired insights into their new products (launched exclusively on their online store). Based on that data, they scaled the products on their other channels. What began as a pilot project turned into one of Entaj’s main directions going forward.


Here’s to many more such stories. We wish Sultan AlAsmi, Mazen & the Zid team the best of luck! (Although I think you may not need it anymore :P)

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
All about modernizing retail and a Saudi startup who's on that mission. Zid – a regional Shopify in the making – proves there isn’t just “e-commerce” or “traditional commerce”. Zid started as an e-commerce store creator and today they're on the path of becoming a sector enabler. The founder Mazen AlDarrab takes us through the Factors of modern retail and some practical examples of how Zid has been modernizing the local merchants in Saudi and beyond.

Family Postcard



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Anyone attending /MONEYtech @Grand Hyatt Kuwait on November 14? See you there…


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