High Fashion Gets Online

The founders of elmuda.com are confident they can tap into the region’s growing taste for designer fashion.

By Rebecca Irvine

Their online luxury fashion magazine elmuda.com may only have launched under a year ago, but Editor-in-Chief Badea Jaber and CEO Ruba Sa’d Abdulhadi say their website has already made significant inroads into the region’s promising e-commerce sector.

With their strongest presence currently in their home market of Jordan, the Oasis500 business delivers to everywhere across the Middle East. The pair said they were working on building their exposure in the Gulf, with their sights set on growth in the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

How did the idea for your business come about?

Abdulhadi: I used to live in Ramallah and never had access to any kind of shopping. When I graduated and went to America I saw that you could shop and deliver anything to your house. I wanted to bring that back to the Middle East and combine both the content and e-commerce together. The website is based on two women trying to serve other women in the region.

Jaber: Namshi.com is men, and men run Marka VIP, and there aren’t really women doing this. It’s about time.

How does the business model work?

Abdulhadi: The revenue is generated through the sales. We haven’t opened the advertising yet because we want to have higher numbers first. On average, we have between 2,000 to 3,000 visits to the site each month, mainly from women aged 18 to 24. They stay on the website because we have articles. Users can press on the item that a model or celebrity is wearing and they can actually buy the outfit.

What are the main challenges that you face as an e-commerce business?

Abdulhadi: PayPal was not in Jordan about two years ago. Last year it was introduced, which makes our lives so much easier. Still, people are not used to the fact of paying online with a credit card. Everyone in Jordan pays cash on delivery, but in the GCC it varies more. When it comes to delivery, we do face a lot of problems. Why can’t the courier integrate the system into the website? We have to call them to send someone to pick up the item, and have to dedicate a person to do that.

What are your plans for the future?

Abdulhadi: We’re still building the numbers. We’re building an app because 58 percent of users check the website on their mobiles. We’re also translating the whole website into Arabic and trying to work on the logistics and cut delivery times.

Jaber: We promote regional designers and sell their products. So that’s a big focus for 2016—we want to have more Arab designers. It’s so interesting to watch how our business is growing within the digital age. Especially in the Middle East, we are tapping into an opportunity that hasn’t been touched before.