Increased Shift To E-Commerce Aids Dubai-Based Startup Spotii As It Launches Amid COVID-19 Spotii belongs to an exclusive group of startups that launched in the middle of a global pandemic. But despite the unforeseen, unique circumstances in which it started business, not many alterations had to be made to the original idea.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Launched in April this year by Anuscha Iqbal and Ziyaad Ahmed, Spotii is a "buy now pay later" platform that partners up with fashion, beauty, and lifestyle ecommerce retailers in order to provide their customers with a simple instalment plan. "Essentially, a customer can split his payment up into four equal instalments, and no credit card is needed," Iqbal explains. "Most importantly, the customer isn't charged any fees; no interest fees, no processing costs, no sign-up fees, and no hidden fees whatsoever. Spotii makes money by charging the merchant a fee only nominally above what they currently pay in online processing fees."
Spotii belongs to an exclusive group of startups that launched in the middle of a global pandemic. But despite the unforeseen, unique circumstances in which it started business, not many alterations had to be made to the original idea. "The fundamental business model did not shift, but our focus on supporting small- and medium-sized businesses was sharpened, as we realized they would benefit from our services the most," says Iqbal. "As a product Spotii is meant to enhance merchant revenue growth during good times and support the community during bad times."
Anuscha Iqbal, co-founder and CEO, Spotii. Source: Spotii
Prepared for the bad times, they were, and that helped them see an increase in demand and sales over the lockdown period in the UAE. "We were aware of the changes the crisis would bring, and how that would impact sentiment," Iqbal notes. "Spotii is a very data-driven business, and our team of data analysts had been (and continues to do so) tracking consumer interest and behavior changes. We used that information to inform our choices such as which business segments to focus on," says Iqbal. "Combining sophisticated data analytics with flexible payment options allows consumers to spend in a responsible manner and merchants to get more sales. Since our launch, our merchants have reported that their average order value has increased by 50%, while revenue from new customers brought to them by Spotii has increased by 40%."
When it comes to the aspects of social distancing and remote working, Iqbal says the Spotii team have had no qualms in working from home, given that the startup was founded on a flexible work culture. But while the human factor plays a major role in how they function as a group, the Spotii team have had to spend some time in understanding the best way to cater to the millennial and Gen-Z customer groups. "As such, social media has been a big part of us building our brand and reaching our consumers," says Iqbal. "Given we are a platform and have to reach both consumers and businesses we have used different platforms for different audiences."
The Spotii website.
Very obviously, the significance of digitization isn't only restricted to Spotii's marketing tools. "Spotii is a tech/digital business first, and so, digitization is embedded in everything we do," Iqbal says. "Our data analytics team comes from Silicon Valley and brings with it a wealth of experience with partnering up with merchants to provide them insights into changing consumer demands and to help direct traffic to their websites."
As for future plans, Iqbal remains confident the shift to e-commerce will continue to grow even beyond the pandemic. "We have seen shoppers who had never shopped online do so, and then having experienced the convenience this brings, continue to do so. We think these changes will accelerate the shift from offline to online, and that bodes well for our business model. COVID-19 also revealed cash to be an outdated technology. With cash purchases limited to prevent the spread of the virus, more people were forced to turn to alternative payment methods, including credit or debit cards to complete purchases. Spotii offers the premier digital instalment payment method."