What Is dubizzle?

Founded in 2005 by J.C. Butler and Sim Whatley, dubizzle is a classifieds platform focused on the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

As part of the OLX classifieds company, dubizzle has grown to include over 200 employees. These employees have been tasked with supporting the majority of users on mobile – 70% of the user base.

With the rise of mobile, dubizzle started looking for ways to boost engagement with digital classifieds. To improve the user experience and increase mobile transactions, dubizzle turned to messaging to connect its users.

The Problem: Not All Digital Experiences Are Created Equal

Unlike the United States, the emerging market dubizzle serves essentially skipped the PC era. Rather than moving from desktop browsing to laptops and slowly shifting toward mobile, emerging markets now dominate mobile browsing.  

Despite the differences between developed and emerging markets, OLX co-founder Alec Oxenford once said, “It’s rational to believe you know local markets, but people are always the same in each country. They think the same way. They have different priorities, but they all want to progress in life and that’s what drives internet behavior.”

dubizzle and other OLX classifieds platforms want to facilitate this progress, but they must remove friction from the user experience to do so. At first, this meant using phone calls, SMS messages, and emails to connect dubizzle users with each other. However, there were a few flaws in this approach:

  • Buyers sent emails to sellers but failed to continue the conversation, as the sellers won’t respond
  • Phone numbers proved hard for sellers to keep track of (especially when receiving multiple calls from many buyers).
  • Leaving the dubizzle platform to interact with buyers/sellers led to a limited usage of the platform
  • Moving to a chat-based platform was the answer to dubizzle’s need to keep interactions within the app.

However, after spending 2 years developing code to make a chat platform vendor’s APIs and SDKs work for their messaging needs, maintenance became overwhelming. After a referral from friends at Shedd, the dubizzle team moved their messaging infrastructure to Layer to simplify their implementation and free up their engineering team.

The Solution: Eliminating User Experience Friction with Layer Messaging

The challenges dubizzle faced with infrastructure maintenance started to hurt the user experience. Solving this problem with Layer meant rethinking the interactions between users.

While the majority of user conversations start with item availability, it’s equally important for dubizzle to move transactions through price negotiation and item pickup. Contrary from the e-commerce platforms, dubizzle transactions happen offline, therefore being able to share location was critical for the overall experience. This requirement added complexity with the original chat platform, but Layer made the backend infrastructure far easier to manage.

“Layer was quick to implement, is easy to maintain, and provides a great conversation experience for our users,” said Mireia Mujika, Senior Product Manager at dubizzle.

The dubizzle mobile app went live in January 2017 with mobile web and desktop support following in April. And within a month, all user- experience complaints stopped and mobile transactions on dubizzle witnessed an increase.

The key takeaway in dubizzle’s story is that creating a messaging-based user conversation can’t improve digital experiences if you spend all your time trying to maintain the backend infrastructure.

If you want to learn how you can implement messaging without backend headaches, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer user conversation platform.