As the e-commerce sector in the UAE continues to grow, new concepts are cropping up to fill gaps and address the rising expectations of customers. Goodness Cart is one such new player in the market that has a health and wellness niche offering home-grown, locally farmed produce and more.
Geeta Pahlajani, the company’s founder, says: “The concept of Goodness Cart is to help people live healthier lifestyles – not just the fitness fans but those wanting to try to live a little better each day. We want to shake up how you think about health and wellness. By having all the customers’ favourite health and wellness essentials in one convenient place makes it easier to shop healthily. Our online marketplace offers carefully quality-controlled healthy products in 14 categories such as fresh and dry food, free-form, beauty, baby and homeware.”
In pursuit of passion – and goodness
Pahlajani’s passion to promote healthy lifestyles via her e-commerce platform stems from a personal pain point. “I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which is an intolerance to gluten. When I returned to the UAE after attending university in London, I looked for gluten-free products but the only available options were flavourless that were sold in pharmacies at a high price point. It was difficult and time-consuming to find natural and preservative-free products to suit my health needs. And, I soon realised that I was not the only person struggling with the convenience, quality and affordability challenges of healthy living,” she recalls.
It was at this point that she thought of Goodness Cart as a concept. But before starting the business, she undertook extensive research on the e-commerce and wellness markets within the UAE. This revealed that there was a gap in the market for a robust technology platform within the wellness products category.
After making the decision to launch Goodness Cart, Pahlajani spent a lot of time perfecting her selling proposition. Her final platform was built with a carefully created UX to offer an exceptional experience to customers. It is reminiscent of US and European websites in terms of look, feel and usability.
“We integrated technology to evolve customer interaction through AI and machine learning. We also adopted a highly-streamlined approach for inventory management to ensure maximum efficiencies and minimal wastage,” she says.
Engaging with local suppliers
Once the portal was up and running, the next step was identifying and engaging with local suppliers to execute her vision. “Our differentiator is the curation of several hidden gems – one-off shops, fishmongers and farms around the UAE providing high-quality produce/products. The ease of doing business with Goodness Cart encourages such quality producers to engage with us and offer quality produce at affordable prices. We work with our partners on an ‘on-demand’ model for fulfilment with clear policies and procedures to ensure a strong supply chain. This model is unique to Goodness Cart and has been derived basis extensive analysis both in the fresh products and e-commerce realm. Large supermarkets or niche retailers can engage with Goodness Cart as an additional channel to market,” explains the young entrepreneur.
One of the challenges, however, has been educating partners and suppliers about the working processes within e-commerce. “Most of the vendors we work with are new to the e-commerce landscape and aren’t sure how to manage orders, scale their supply chain and comply with the set standards.”
A laser focus on quality
One word that Pahlajani keeps coming back to is quality. “Quality control is at the heart of everything we do at Goodness Cart. We have rigorous protocols in place – whether it’s with our vendors, in our fulfilment centre or with our customer service staff. Our target audience rates quality as a key differentiator and it’s a critical aspect that will drive loyalty.”
Quality, however, extends beyond just good service. “To us, quality is our commitment to health and wellness with “as fresh as they can get” – products along with convenience for the consumer. Quality also reflects in our portfolio of products. We offer products across the full spectrum of the health and wellness – not only gluten free or organic products. With our current aggressive growth plans, this portfolio is being expanded to include athleisure and wearables before moving into experiences (services) over the next 18-24 months. Our core proposition is to be the destination for health and wellness and offer everything a consumer would need to be “healthy” in one convenient, affordable marketplace,” she adds.
Success mantra: Shop better, live better
Having secured seed funding in 2016, which was a mix of personal investment and funding from a private investment fund, Goodness Cart is seeking investors for its growth round over the course of the next 18 months to enable regional expansion across Kuwait and Saudi.
The woman at the forefront of the start-up has a clear business roadmap in play: she wants to grow her proprietary technology platform into a white label plug and play solution that incorporates features such as AI, machine learning and predictive analytics. This will help her open high-growth B2B avenues. “Goodness Cart will turn ROI in 18 months with an anticipated year-on-year growth of 30 per cent. The company will also continue to build inventory, particularly across the non-food categories. Bringing on new product lines in the athleisure and wearables segments as well as expanding regionally to Kuwait and Saudi is also on the agenda,” she envisions.
Pahlajani believes that things in her rapidly-paced industry will evolve quickly. “Four years from now, the industry dynamics will be very different. A lot of the processes will be automated, human intervention will be minimal and AI personal shoppers along with drone deliveries will be prevalent,” she anticipates.
“So, it is important for any business owner to have their finger on the pulse of the market. I read daily, research extensively and ensure that both my team and I are always informed about advancements in the market. Since customer experience is central to our mission, we particularly focus on staying on top of any new developments that will help us enhance our offering. Like we say on our portal, if you shop better, you live better,” she smiles.
“It is important to set clear goals and milestones. Founders often waste a lot of time overthinking concepts instead of testing with potential customers. To mitigate this risk; we set measurable KPIs and track progress along the way. This ensures a clear focus towards the goal with iterations being done quickly whenever needed,” she concludes.