Cartlow, a UAE-based 're-commerce' solution where customers can order pre-owned, refurbished, open-box, and clearance products, recently raised a $2M Pre-Series A funding round and alongside this, launched its sister company - VASCART.
Following the announcement, MAGNiTT caught up with Cartlow's Founder and CEO, Mohammed Sleiman to learn more about how the 're-commerce' platform works, if they've faced any issues with user behaviour, if 're-commerce' is popular amongst a particular demographic, their expansion plans, and more.
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How does the Cartlow platform work?
Returned and overstock products arrive every day from top brands, suppliers, retailers, and consumers who want to sell their old items. Cartlow inspects these products and assigns a product condition, arming consumers with the information needed when they are looking for a good deal. We classify our products under four main conditions; (1) pre-owned, (2) open-box, (3) refurbished and (4) clearance items; and only the best ones make the cut. We then let our customers buy the products at unmatched prices, hence they don’t stay on the shelves for too long. To enhance the customer experience and build trust with them, Cartlow attaches a one-year warranty with every item that it sells, including a 10-day easy return policy as well as value-added services; such as installation and extended warranty. We always want our customers to know that when a Cartlow box hits their doorstep, they know that they have grabbed an unbeatable deal!
Have you seen a particular interest/popularity amongst certain demographics or age groups?
At the earliest stage of Cartlow’s operations, we have witnessed a huge interest and demand from the younger audiences – such as college or university students - since our products are always selling at affordable prices for the consumer.
Contrarily, have you faced any problems with user behaviour? Do people struggle to trust you in a re-selling platform? And how have you overcome this?
We always believe that there are significant opportunities to better serve our customers, therefore we always try to make our business operations and processes clear and visible to the consumer from start to finish. We provide our customers with flexibility in return to build their trust in our re-commerce business platform.
Aside from capital, what else were you looking for from your investors?
We are very fortunate with our current investor portfolio, who are contributing to the overall business success with their support and encouragement. However, we would still love to see a larger pool of venture capitalists who have the capacity to lead within the region.
Can you share some of Cartlow’s short-term plans for expansion with us?
When it comes to geographical expansion, we are maturing our infrastructure to support key markets in the GCC, which include UAE and KSA amongst others. We are expanding our product selection by partnering with more distributors and retailers while introducing our ‘sell your item’ program for customers who can profitably sell their old devices or items to us. Moreover, we have great trust and belief in our manpower capacity; we are growing our talent pool across all functions so that we can successfully scale-up our business platform to structure and mature the re-commerce industry
What do you foresee as the largest challenges to scaling Cartlow in MENA and beyond?
We believe that the supply chain part is a notable challenge for the re-commerce industry, however, we are continuously working closely on our last-mile delivery partners to enhance and boost the cross-border shipment model.
'Re-commerce’ is currently an untapped industry in the region. What are your expectations for the industry over the next few years in MENA? What do you hope to see?
Cartlow’s business model is focused on affordability and the target segment is 70% of the population. One thing we need to be aware of, is that we are tapping into an expected market size of 10 billion dollars, and once this industry becomes structured, we expect to witness high growths and adaptability to the re-commerce business model.
What are your hopes/expectations for the future of Cartlow?
We endeavor to lead the industry by being the re-commerce pioneers and progressively structuring this market within the MENA region.
What advice would you give to yourself five years ago?
Somebody should have started to focus on sustainability when it comes to e-waste; Cartlow saved tons of waste since it started its inventive re-commerce business model, which also worked towards providing optimal efficiency for both sellers and buyers.
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