ExpandCart, an E-commerce and retail platform, recently announced a $2.5M Series A funding round led by Sawari Ventures with the participation of Agility Ventures, Graphene Ventures, and two angel investors.
We caught up with Amr Shawqy, CEO & Co-Founder of ExpandCart to learn more about how the platform works, if tech support is provided to users, how the current climate has affected the platform's usage, the startups' plans following the round, and more.
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How does the ExpandCart platform work?
ExpandCart is a platform that helps businesses and individuals to create their own online store in minutes and without any technical experience. An online store where you can display products and accept orders, and the idea is that anyone can use our tool to build one just like they would create a Facebook page, it is that easy.
How did the current climate affect the platform’s usage? Did you see a surge in usage as digital adoption was accelerated?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had the opportunity to help thousands of merchants continue their business online. Since April 2020, we have witnessed 2-3x growth in the number of users and revenue and almost an average of 4-5x in GMV. The pandemic has accelerated the E-commerce growth 10 years forward! There is a clear behavioral change even in customer habits, they are now trusting online shopping and relying on it more.
This is an everlasting effect; it will continue to grow ever after the pandemic ends. Online commerce is now an important selling channel just like offline retail stores.
What tips would you give to traditional offline companies who are looking to successfully shift online and create an E-commerce site?
Online commerce is no longer an option, it is a must-have channel beside your offline retail store.
Find the platform that you can rely on, and that can support your needs, not only now, but 5 years from now. Your business will grow online rapidly so make sure you have the platform that can support this growth.
Do users need to have a certain level of tech experience to use the platform?
No, the platform is designed so that anyone can create their own online store just like creating a Facebook account or page, it is designed to be that simple.
What support does ExpandCart provide to users? Do you share any recommendations or do’s and don’ts?
What is unique about ExpandCart, is that we go beyond just technical support; we provide E-commerce and marketing support. The goal of our Merchant Success team is to help our merchants build their online store and then receive sales and succeed online.
Aside from capital, what else were you looking for from your investors?
When we look for investors, we always want a business partner, not just a cheque. Our investors are highly supportive and engaged, they have an amazing powerful network, and continually helping us with our strategic partnerships and business decisions.
The new funds will help you implement your roadmap of new innovative E-commerce solutions. Can you share some of your short-term plans for expansion with us?
We are working on developing new solutions that will reduce the gap between online and offline commerce, and help merchants use omnichannel commerce in their business using highly integrated tools.
What do you foresee as the largest challenges to scaling ExpandCart in MENA and beyond?
Finding the right talents in multiple counties is not always easy, and working with a large and dynamic team requires a lot of effort to get them working together efficiently.
What are your hopes for the future of ExpandCart?
We hope to be able to help all merchants in the MENA region with powerful business applications that are highly integrated to help empower commerce with technology.
What advice would you give to yourself five years ago? :)
I would tell myself to start early, take more risks, and always behave like a startup!
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