First artist-driven ecommerce platform, POPC, launched in GCC
The first artist driven, e-commerce platform in the GCC region, POPC, has recently launched. The platform links artists and consumers, creating an artist ecosystem to sell their products through their individual storefronts within the marketplace with no joining cost, with the platform handling production and shipping. With pop culture as its core focus, POPC has launched with a range of t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, caps, canvas and framed prints with stickers and matching sets set to drop soon.
POPC’s CEO, Arafaat Ali Khan, leveraged his multiple decade experience in the pop culture industry, especially events like Middle East Film and Comic-Con that he conceptualised and organised to tap into demand for pop culture. These events generated footfall of 60,000+ people from around the MENA region that translated to e-commerce data. This figure has only grown as pop culture has permeated the region with new OTT platforms and hobby and collector retailers becoming more prevalent.
The founding team of POPC conducted market research by speaking to hundreds of artists and consumers in the region to understand their needs and wants. With the move towards sustainable retail, the team also wanted to build an e-commerce platform that was focused on on-demand and custom production that means minimal waste.
Haroon Tahir, Co-founder and Head of Marketing at POPC, commented, “Our co-founders’ combined experience in the pop culture industry paired with the increasing adoption of digital shopping and a massive demand in the region for unique and custom pop culture products shows outstanding potential for POPC as a whole.”
All the products are manufactured on-demand in the UAE, meaning minimal waste, and created using the highest-quality fabrics and materials, setting a standard for merchandise production and fulfilment in the region with all their operations located entirely in the UAE. All the merchandise is designed by pop culture artists based in the region, who earn a fixed commission on the sale of each product. Unlike platforms like Shopify, POPC bears fulfilment, production, shipping and associated costs making it a unique market value proposition for artists.
Tahir added, “It’s an aspect that has appealed to most of our artists when signing up. They can focus on what they do best, create great art and leave the rest to us. In addition to this, our on-demand and custom production model is quite unique for our region where products are only produced when an order is received meaning that there is minimal waste, an eco-friendly approach that was important to us in this era of ultra-fast fashion.”
“We wanted to build an ecosystem for artists and on-demand production in the region – it just doesn’t exist at a quality standard,” says Amna Aijaz, artist and co-founder at POPC. “As an artist and pop culture fan raised in the UAE, it’s vital for us to bring the community together through our shared interests and give people access to the merchandise they want from artists they love throughout the year at their convenience.”
Currently, POPC’s core focus is to create the best platform for independent pop culture artists. For 2023, it is looking at on-boarding more pop culture collectible retailers and pop culture art focused galleries, “partners who really want to build and support the community”.
POPC currently delivers across the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with plans to expand delivery within the MENA region by the end of this year.
As part of its mission of building the region’s artist ecosystem, POPC is also slated to launch the world’s first Arabic comic reader and a fan engagement platform where artists can stream and chat with their fans directly by 2023.