Brand View: Raj Lee, founder & CEO explains the story behind the on-demand grocery delivery app Bawiq
We’re here today with the Founder and CEO of ‘bawiq’, the go-to grocery app for the UAE. From his initial retail leadership as regional manager for UK supermarket giants Tesco and Safeway, to his senior management role with some of the largest International Real Estate Developers, Rajeev Lee is at the helm of what could possibly be the next evolution of grocery shopping.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, what is your educational and professional background?
My parents came to the UAE in the late 50s and I grew up in Abu Dhabi. I completed my bachelor’s degree in International Business and Finance Management in the UK and whilst studying for my degree, I started my career in retail. I worked my way up from packing shelves to managing some of the largest hypermarkets in the UK.
Following this, my career took me on a global path where I worked with some of the largest real estate developers in the world. I returned to back to the UAE and worked as the operations director of Aswaaq (Dubai) to bring the project from concept to reality. Upon opening a number of Aswaaq stores and neighbourhood centers, I then took up the role of retail director at Sorouh Real Estate (now Aldar Properties).
How did you come up with ‘bawiq’, what brought about the whole idea?
(laughs) Through my personal frustration in trying to order groceries to my home using the available websites which I found to be difficult to navigate and cumbersome. In addition to this, I was disheartened to see that simple groceries could not be delivered to my door step in less than 48 hours without a surcharge. I then tried to order some groceries using my mobile phone only to find that even though they have a one hour delivery window, my location was not covered within their delivery area.
bawiq is going to change all of that – it is going to be fast, efficient and convenient.
So what makes bawiq more appealing than the other grocery apps in the market?
It’s fast, efficient and easy to use. The app works through a simple three step process from ordering to payment. In addition for ease of payment we offer COD, credit/debit cards and an in-app wallet. We currently have 100 per cent coverage of Abu Dhabi Island and its surrounding areas, and about 80 per cent of Dubai, which we are growing every day.
In order to ensure that the customer’s requirements is fulfilled within the committed time we have a robust back of house mechanism.
We are also very conscious about our environment and we strive to ensure our carbon footprint is minimised. Our offices are eco-friendly and we employ a paperless accountancy solution. Over 70 per cent of our deliveries will be done on foot or by bicycle. We don’t use plastic so all our groceries are delivered in reusable, recycled delivery bags saving millions of carrier bags from ending up on our beaches and landfills.
How did you lay the foundation for your app, what kind of research did you need to do before you could launch?
There was about a year of on-the-ground data collecting, followed by numerous focus group activities for both consumers and retail owners, trying to gauge and seamlessly unite the requirements of both parties for a better platform.
Is there anything unique that you would say Bawiq offers the local market?
Due to our extensive network of supermarkets we are able to offer neighbourhood deliveries, minimal orders and scheduled bulk delivery. To our retailers we can offer greater margins, special offers and Inventory management tools to help them better manage their business. In addition we can offer brands and wholesalers the opportunity to have a one stop-shop to listing and selling their products within our network. Finally, we also have a loyalty programme that will go live once we hit critical mass.
So how exactly does your liason with supermarkets and groceries work, are there any challenges involved?
Supermarkets are essentially our business partners and any supermarkets who wish to be part of our app, will be vetted and need to conform to bawiq’s service/delivery requirements.
After the approval process, we provide training sessions and live workshops which are then followed by in-store training. Each supermarket is then provided with a tablet that operates our retail module, which also incorporates a full backend inventory system to manage their stock.
In order to ensure customer satisfaction, we encourage our customers to rate their shopping experience, giving supermarkets with higher ratings more orders; supermarkets with lower ratings will be retrained to improve their service levels.
Our intention is to provide our customers with better service and our supermarket partners with higher sales profit margins.
How did you tweak your app and its services for this region?
Our app and its services have been developed to operate within local government regulations and is tailored to the needs of our customers and their shopping habits while the retail module is custom-made to support the operations of our supermarket partners.
The app uses complex algorithms to calculate product availability, proximity and efficiency of delivery to determine how an order is allocated from a customer to a store.
The app will be continuously updated to incorporate customer feedback and additional functions will be added to create a superior shopping experience for our customer.
What excites you most about your start-up?
We will be changing the fundamental way in which people shop for their daily groceries.
We are now the largest supermarket delivery entity in the UAE with over 950 supermarkets and we are fast becoming the market leader in green sustainable grocery shopping.
What will be the biggest challenge for Bawiq’s growth?
To continue offering personalised services to our customers and supermarket partners while expanding throughout the region and eventually, the world.
What’s your plan for the app’s growth in the region?
We are currently in negotiations with potential partners for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, aiming for our GCC expansion in October. We’re also in contact with venture capitalists for the Asian expansion in December. In addition to this we are in final discussions with a number of major brands and key service providers, who will partner with us on our journey.
You will be able to download the bawiq App from Google Play Store and Apple App store from the 30th of Sept
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