After the acquisition, I predicted that Amazon would phase out the Souq.com name over the coming years. They would keep the marquee name front and center that is trusted worldwide by consumers. That may now be ramping up, given the new Marketplace initiative Amazon has been courting third-party retailers in private discussions.
Amazon in the spotlight
First reported by CNBC, Amazon has contacted select third-party retailers with an early first-hand opportunity to sell in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This would be done with the launch of the Middle East marketplace, encouraging sellers not to sign up on Souq.com as all the inventory would be on the main site.
The Souq acquisition gave them a significant jump start in the Middle East region. I’d be in denial if I didn’t state that the Middle East (specifically the GCC) is a potentially lucrative market. High disposable income with high internet penetration (don’t forget that the average person likely has 2 mobile devices), combined with English being the lingua franca for business work makes it ideal to launch the Middle East marketplace.
Even though it would be easy for US-based sellers to grow here, they’d still have to contend with adding Arabic as a language of shopping. Some of the products that people in the region tend to buy are cosmetics, jewellery, and electronics.
How soon will this materialize? You never know cause they’d want to do this without attracting too much scrutiny from existing Souq users. This would easily challenge the local-based Noon.com, but the latter still has a long way to go with matching up to the former’s global logistics and shopping knowledge.
What will likely accelerate this move is the sheer number of job vacancies that are still available. Time will tell if Amazon will replace Souq.com as the defacto online shopping face for the Middle East.
Image credit: Amazon Press Room