Rudy Bekerejian, founder and CEO at Ecomz tells us about setting up an online store.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rudy Bekerejian: It’s tough times, due to the nature of my role, I interact with a lot of people and unfortunately, I was tested positive for COVID-19 back in October 2020. We also had multiple cases within our team but we managed to contain them. At the moment, we’ve been having all our meetings online and managed to make it a seamless process.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Ecomz.
Rudy Bekerejian: I can say I’m one of those people who have entrepreneurship in their DNA. It all started with my first company while I was still in university Canada, back in 2001. During the 30 years, I was living in Montreal, I took on tech consultancy for 100+ businesses, and held several positions as director and CEO. My passion for e-commerce started in 2007 when I noticed that the existing solutions were very costly and complex. I was good at it and I knew I could make it easy, quick, and cost-effective for all merchants to sell online. In 2015, I decided to move to Lebanon to found Ecomz, since the region was over a decade behind in e-commerce compared to the North American market. This is how my journey began with Ecomz.
How does Ecomz innovate?
Rudy Bekerejian: We innovate in the following ways:
- We try to understand the user’s journey, and we do all it takes to make it frictionless.
- We hire heroes
- We constantly push ourselves
- We use the most up-to-date technologies
- We listen to our clients
- We never give up
- We do a lot of research and experiments
- We partner with the best
- We always remind ourselves of our mission and vision
- We are very agile and adapt very quickly
We never give up until we make it work 🙂
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Rudy Bekerejian: The pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns, had a massive positive impact on e-commerce and our business. Merchants were faced with the need to move online in a very short time. We had record growth (with intermittent breaks due to the local situation and events), and even our merchants’ month-to-month GMV grew 3 to 6 times. However, we also faced some challenges such as travel restrictions, had to get used to working remotely on a team level, team members getting sick, etc.
COVID-19 was a piece of cake compared to other issues that we faced such as the Lebanese revolution, capital control imposed by the banks, Beirut port explosion, government deadlock, and so many others. Those problems were the most challenging in terms of cash flow, finances, payments/receivables for us as a business.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Rudy Bekerejian: We quickly upgraded our technology and made a quick move to switch to working from home. We also restructured the teams and departments, delegated more, and focused on process and automation tools. The lesson learned is that everything is possible as long as we are flexible, open to change, and use the right technologies. Reinvent yourself, be creative and act quickly!
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Rudy Bekerejian: It’s all about setting up the right priorities, systems, processes, tools, team structures, etc. I also believe that in general, customers were very understanding since everyone was going through challenging times!
We use many tools to be efficient, we have upgraded our phone systems, ticket management system, chat tools, project management tools, productivity tools, communication tools, and way more!
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Rudy Bekerejian: Sadly not! No one came for the rescue… We have a dysfunctional and absent government!
Your final thoughts?
Rudy Bekerejian: Hard times push you to innovate and come together for support – Ecomz has seen tremendous growth internally in terms of upgrading our platform and innovating our tools and solutions.
We’re also partnering with some of the big names to be able to support the local market and struggling business owners. We have just announced our partnership and initiative with Facebook and Mindshare to help 100 SMBs launch their e-commerce journey, free of charge. Supplied with the right tools, training, and support; these merchants will be on their way to selling globally and contributing to the country’s economic growth
As you know, Ecomz is an all-in-one platform and our mission is to become the platform of choice for merchants by offering the ultimate suite of effective tools to create, manage and grow their online business. Our forte is how adapted we’ve become to the MENA region, our features, solutions, integrations, and our upcoming release of the Arabic back-end/dashboard, are the right set of tools for success in the region. These capacities drove increased investment interest, and the expansion of Ecomz into KSA, something we’re really excited to announce very soon.