When you have raised more than $500 million in funding and have built a crowdsourced fleet network in more than fifty cities across MENA, you can afford to experiment some interesting things and that is what Careem seems to be doing now. In a surprising move, the ride-hailing company has stepped into online fashion retail with the launch of Dukkan Careem earlier this week.
Currently selling their own merchandise only through the ecommerce platform, Dukkan Careem may venture into other categories as well. For now it’s just couple of tees priced between AED 50 to 85 ($14 – 23) and they’re only available for customers in UAE. Careem claims all products to be 100% local, meaning ‘locally sourced materials with culturally-inspired designs that are produced in cities that Careem operates in.’
“We are extremely proud to launch Dukkan Careem and are excited to bring the Careem brand, which people know and love, into tangible products and merchandise,” said Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and Co-Founder, Careem. “Dukkan Careem is an initiative that will work closely with and support local creators in the region – it’s a chance to really get to know our community and co-create.”
The initiative is led by Zhila Shariat, Head of Retail at Careem. She has been with the company for almost two years holding different roles. Zhila’s Linkedin profile suggests that the company had been working on the initiative for about seven months.
“Careem’s mission is to simplify and improve the lives of people in the region, and I am excited to be working on Dukkan Careem to help make this vision a reality. We wanted something our Customers, Captains and Colleagues could identify with and feel proud owning,” said Zhila Shariat, Head of Retail at Careem. “We want to collaborate with photographers, designers and all types of creative artists in the region for future collections which will only keep getting bigger. We can’t wait for what lies ahead.”
Careem will obviously be using their own network of captains to make the deliveries. The company is claiming to be able to deliver the purchased items as quick as within an hour in some cases. The whole thing seems like an experiment to test the hypothesis if Careem can go big in ecommerce. Having a dedicated team inside the company work on Dukkan Careem suggests that they’re pretty serious about it.
“We recognise that with the ship we’ve built we have tremendous capabilities to diversify from the core business. We have the talent, knowledge and on the ground network to venture into new areas of business that make use of these. The fact that Dukkan Careem is going to be 100% local also means fueling back into the economy through job creation and disrupting e-commerce through deliveries. Lastly, we also have a large customer base to market it to, so the real question here is, why not?” said Zhila, speaking to MENAbytes.
The items currently available on the website are have been made using cotton and polycotton material sourced from Pakistan with the sewing, embroidery and screen-printing done in the UAE. The company will launch its winter collection at creative festival Sole DXB on the 7th, 8th and 9th of December. Dukkan Careem will also make appearances through pop-up shops at events and festivals and will soon be available in other markets Careem operates in.
Until few months ago, Careem ‘just’ wanted to be the biggest mover of people and things in the region. With this initiative, its obvious that they want to go beyond that. Let’s see how that turns out.