Dubai is a well-known hub for shopping and trade in the Middle East, but eCommerce presents a new host of challenges. Ali Al Darwish sought a way to overcome those challenges when founding his online business, Al Ghaf. Based out of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Al Ghaf sells all types of products ranging from jewelry to appliances, with the goal of becoming a one-stop shop for its customers.

Ali had the initial idea for Al Ghaf after he identified several common problems plaguing the Eastern Hemisphere’s eCommerce environment, all of which were centered in customer experience. “Customers are not at ease when shopping at unknown or new online stores, for various good reasons,” Ali says. He noted such reasons as payment security, product quality and authenticity, incorrect order fulfillment, lack of guarantees and warranties on products, and even the frequent occurrence of used items being sold as new.

Ali made it a business goal to found an online store with a strong foundation in quality and trust that would become known to its customers as being free from all the above eCommerce woes. “ was born to overcome the issues the online marketplace was facing and ensure an enjoyable and risk-free experience for our customers,” he says. Once he had the idea, he began to look for the right shopping cart software to bring it to life.

Dropshipping support was a must, as that was how Ali planned to source his products. Not only would this save him from needing a huge amount of inventory space for an enormous variety of products, it would also allow him to ensure that his customers received genuine items straight from the manufacturer or key distributor, with warranties intact.

He also needed the eCommerce platform to grow with his business, as his goal is for Al Ghaf to become the one-stop shop for his region. It was very important that the platform would be able to integrate smoothly with different payment gateways and shipping methods. An easy-to use admin panel, 24/7 support, and freedom to customize were other important considerations. Initial start-up cost was one of the biggest stumbling blocks presented by other carts. “While undertaking the feasibility study of various shopping carts in the market, we understood that not many shopping carts can support the UAE and GCC region, and the ones that are available are ridiculously expensive.” Ali explains. “I was in search of a shopping cart that can fulfill the bare minimum requirements off-the-shelf and then we can customize it to meet UAE requirements.”

His search brought him to Shift4Shop. Ali says, “after evaluating most of the similar platforms, we landed with Shift4Shop with our true belief that it will fulfill all of our requirements and future growth plans. What also contributed to our selection was the friendly and fast customer service and the optimistic responses we received addressing our issues.”

One such issue was that Shift4Shop lacked native support for PayFORT, the Middle East’s credit card payment gateway. The existing payment gateways simply would not support the region without huge fees and restrictions. Ali contacted Shift4Shop and the team built a smooth integration with PayFORT, allowing business to proceed.

Al Ghaf has achieved its desired business model and the future is bright. “We are in a growth phase,” Ali Al Darwish says. “Currently we have about 3,000 SKUs and many more are in the pipeline.” With the help of Shift4Shop, Ali was able to create and build a business focused on trust, quality, and customer satisfaction, and we are proud to have him with us.

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