Zaful expands business in Middle East

Zaful, an Asia-based online women's fashion outlet with a

Zaful, an Asia-based online women's fashion outlet with a large amount of its sales coming from North America and Europe shoppers, is expanding into the Middle East market.

The timing of this launch was set to coincide with Arab Fashion Week at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai, UAE, this week.

Zaful’s Arabic site (, which offers cash-on-delivery (COD) payments as well as post service, highlights the latest styles and design elements for Middle East women, said a statement from the company.

“Last year, we started advertising in this area and it definitely showed some potential,” said Benjamin Zhao, director of operations for Zaful.

“This year we are going to focus on the Middle East. It is an evolving market, one that is growing slowly but steadily. Splash, the leading online fashion merchant in the Middle East, has created a demand for Internet shopping in the region, opening the door for other similar companies,” he said.

“Our company has an excellent reputation in the US and Europe, and we are confident we can capture a good share of this market. We offer high-quality apparel at discount prices and that has a strong appeal in any market,” Zhao added.

In the Middle East, there is a general lack of raw materials, especially for clothing and footwear. This generates a large number of imports and online sales for these items, said a statement.

According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, there are many practical issues relating to payment and delivery. The postal system is not fully developed in some parts of the region so consumers frequently use post office boxes or collection depots.

In addition, only a small segment of the population has credit cards and online payment systems are just starting to emerge. Thus much of the Middle East still relies on COD shipping, which results in higher costs and problems with returns. Many customers are willing to pay a premium for speedy delivery.

Zaful instituted a COD payment plan in January of this year, it added.

Zhao said: “It works well and provides convenience. Our low prices are a major factor in Middle East sales.”

“The Middle East has a large population and the purchasing habits are quite mixed," he said.

“The demand for luxury, high-end products is low to medium so the vast majority of Internet shoppers are attracted by discount prices. Monetary reward programmes motivate shoppers as well. And we're also finding that a good portion of Middle East consumers are young so fashion and styles that suit that demographic are very important,” he concluded. – TradeArabia News Service