Zilzar: The world’s digital Muslim marketplace

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Rushdi Siddiqui
Rushdi Siddiqui

Investvine talks with chief executive and co-founder of Zilzar, Rushdi Siddiqui, who has led the online platform to a rank and standard all its own. There is an e-commerce trading site, Zilzar.com – that defines itself as a “Muslim lifestyle marketplace, bringing together products, services and information on the world’s largest online halal platform” -, which was recently joined by an associated lifestyle and news site, Zilzar Life, an online platform that aims at “connecting Muslim millennials around the globe, to showcase the culturally diverse lifestyles revolving around one Muslim identity, rooted in faith.” The Kuala Lumpur-based platform was launched on October 29 in Dubai by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.

It’s been almost one year since Zilzar was launched. Tell us some growth numbers. Zilzar.com now has 15,777 merchants from the Muslim lifestyle market place, and we are onboarding, on average, 225 merchants per day. The objective is to reach 30,000 by year-end.

So you quickly surpassed Alibaba in a matter of a few months? Yes, we have more halal suppliers than Alibaba, which has 1,757 halal suppliers as of September 23, and more than Amazon, Ebay, Tokopedia, Rakuten or even Flipkart. But, such e-commerce platforms are no longer our reference benchmarks. Our benchmark is ourselves, equivalent to self-disruption, as we take our responsibility seriously in bringing market access to merchants.

What are the toughest perceptions to change about halal? First, lets put halal into context, it’s a process and not a product. Second, the halal food supply chain is 80 to 90 per cent “controlled” by non-Muslims, hence, there are potential integrity risks. Third, the perception of halal, in the Muslim and non-Muslim world, is that it’s about the slaughter and certification bodies, and this narrow view point is actually an anchor that is slowing the growth of “halal.”

Are you modeled after Alibaba? Our objective, as a B2B platform, is about lead generation and business matching, as transaction and fulfillment is done off-line. This is how Alibaba got started and they evolved.

How are you different from Alibaba, then? For Alibaba, they are the world’s e-store, and not (yet) focusing on halal/Muslim lifestyle products on one dedicated platform. Zilzar’s core market is the “Muslim lifestyle marketplace”, a phrase coined by Dubai.

From where is the bulk of your suppliers? The top 10 countries for suppliers are China (4,237); Malaysia (3,668); Indonesia (1,547); Singapore (789); Thailand (562); the US (373); India (330); South Africa (311); the UK (274); and the Philippines (216).

ZilzarWhat are your core product categories? Now the top six categories for us include electronics (1,974); food and beverages (1,514); health and beauty (934); machinery, industrial parts and tools (887); fashion, textiles and accessories (673); and gifts, sports and toys (270).

Do these products represent a proxy of the marketplace? Its too early to draw any firm conclusions, but ask me this question one year from now with a greater sampling and, more importantly, bringing many merchants off-line to on-line.

What do you believe the future will hold then? Indications suggest that in the halal area, fashion, cosmetics, travel and ingredients will be leading the marketplace for the demand of halal.  Gifts and toys may also present interesting opportunities for suppliers, especially if the product is available on a global platform.

Is halal certificate standardisation still a problem? In the case of halal, issues are more complex and inter-twined. As there is no global halal standard for food, beverage, ingredients etc., it’s a patchwork of regulations. The approach we are taking as B2B platform is vetting and monitoring.

Interesting. How do you plan to conduct this vetting and monitoring? On Zilzar, the entity [supplier] is required to show the certificate for the product for us to review and/or the buyer may ask for it when they are communicating. We will be rolling out in the near future Zilzar Halal Assurance to address these challenges, but it’s a time consuming undertaking.

So this assurance forum should create trusted halal branding? Yes, and we will also be creating a global e-bulletin board, where the marketplace can report suspicious ‘halal’ logos/products.

Zilzar LifeDo you have plans to collaborate with research labs to spur innovation? We have recognised that a deeper dive is required on “halal” beyond certification. For example, more acute detection capabilities for equipment, products and software become crucial to ensure consumer confidence and bring marketplace discipline to companies and some certification bodies.

Finally, how would you define Zilzar’s “Muslim Lifestyle”? This is about bringing content to commerce. For example, on many Muslim lifestyle websites, the journey of the user ends when the article ends, but we want the journey to continue to commerce. Put differently, if a reader gets excited about an article on, say, modest fashion, and they sell such items, we want them to open up a free digital storefront.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

[caption id="attachment_26591" align="alignleft" width="233"] Rushdi Siddiqui[/caption] Investvine talks with chief executive and co-founder of Zilzar, Rushdi Siddiqui, who has led the online platform to a rank and standard all its own. There is an e-commerce trading site, Zilzar.com - that defines itself as a "Muslim lifestyle marketplace, bringing together products, services and information on the world's largest online halal platform" -, which was recently joined by an associated lifestyle and news site, Zilzar Life, an online platform that aims at "connecting Muslim millennials around the globe, to showcase the culturally diverse lifestyles revolving around one Muslim identity, rooted in faith." The Kuala...

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rushdi Siddiqui
Rushdi Siddiqui

Investvine talks with chief executive and co-founder of Zilzar, Rushdi Siddiqui, who has led the online platform to a rank and standard all its own. There is an e-commerce trading site, Zilzar.com – that defines itself as a “Muslim lifestyle marketplace, bringing together products, services and information on the world’s largest online halal platform” -, which was recently joined by an associated lifestyle and news site, Zilzar Life, an online platform that aims at “connecting Muslim millennials around the globe, to showcase the culturally diverse lifestyles revolving around one Muslim identity, rooted in faith.” The Kuala Lumpur-based platform was launched on October 29 in Dubai by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.

It’s been almost one year since Zilzar was launched. Tell us some growth numbers. Zilzar.com now has 15,777 merchants from the Muslim lifestyle market place, and we are onboarding, on average, 225 merchants per day. The objective is to reach 30,000 by year-end.

So you quickly surpassed Alibaba in a matter of a few months? Yes, we have more halal suppliers than Alibaba, which has 1,757 halal suppliers as of September 23, and more than Amazon, Ebay, Tokopedia, Rakuten or even Flipkart. But, such e-commerce platforms are no longer our reference benchmarks. Our benchmark is ourselves, equivalent to self-disruption, as we take our responsibility seriously in bringing market access to merchants.

What are the toughest perceptions to change about halal? First, lets put halal into context, it’s a process and not a product. Second, the halal food supply chain is 80 to 90 per cent “controlled” by non-Muslims, hence, there are potential integrity risks. Third, the perception of halal, in the Muslim and non-Muslim world, is that it’s about the slaughter and certification bodies, and this narrow view point is actually an anchor that is slowing the growth of “halal.”

Are you modeled after Alibaba? Our objective, as a B2B platform, is about lead generation and business matching, as transaction and fulfillment is done off-line. This is how Alibaba got started and they evolved.

How are you different from Alibaba, then? For Alibaba, they are the world’s e-store, and not (yet) focusing on halal/Muslim lifestyle products on one dedicated platform. Zilzar’s core market is the “Muslim lifestyle marketplace”, a phrase coined by Dubai.

From where is the bulk of your suppliers? The top 10 countries for suppliers are China (4,237); Malaysia (3,668); Indonesia (1,547); Singapore (789); Thailand (562); the US (373); India (330); South Africa (311); the UK (274); and the Philippines (216).

ZilzarWhat are your core product categories? Now the top six categories for us include electronics (1,974); food and beverages (1,514); health and beauty (934); machinery, industrial parts and tools (887); fashion, textiles and accessories (673); and gifts, sports and toys (270).

Do these products represent a proxy of the marketplace? Its too early to draw any firm conclusions, but ask me this question one year from now with a greater sampling and, more importantly, bringing many merchants off-line to on-line.

What do you believe the future will hold then? Indications suggest that in the halal area, fashion, cosmetics, travel and ingredients will be leading the marketplace for the demand of halal.  Gifts and toys may also present interesting opportunities for suppliers, especially if the product is available on a global platform.

Is halal certificate standardisation still a problem? In the case of halal, issues are more complex and inter-twined. As there is no global halal standard for food, beverage, ingredients etc., it’s a patchwork of regulations. The approach we are taking as B2B platform is vetting and monitoring.

Interesting. How do you plan to conduct this vetting and monitoring? On Zilzar, the entity [supplier] is required to show the certificate for the product for us to review and/or the buyer may ask for it when they are communicating. We will be rolling out in the near future Zilzar Halal Assurance to address these challenges, but it’s a time consuming undertaking.

So this assurance forum should create trusted halal branding? Yes, and we will also be creating a global e-bulletin board, where the marketplace can report suspicious ‘halal’ logos/products.

Zilzar LifeDo you have plans to collaborate with research labs to spur innovation? We have recognised that a deeper dive is required on “halal” beyond certification. For example, more acute detection capabilities for equipment, products and software become crucial to ensure consumer confidence and bring marketplace discipline to companies and some certification bodies.

Finally, how would you define Zilzar’s “Muslim Lifestyle”? This is about bringing content to commerce. For example, on many Muslim lifestyle websites, the journey of the user ends when the article ends, but we want the journey to continue to commerce. Put differently, if a reader gets excited about an article on, say, modest fashion, and they sell such items, we want them to open up a free digital storefront.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid