Everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence or AI; this umbrella of technologies that is able to emulate and sometimes replace human cognitive performance. In fact AI is already largely present in everyday digital interactions. Think of voice recognition, maps itinerary calculation, stock trading and gaming to name a few.
In retail, Artificial Intelligence is primarily being used by market leaders to personalise marketing engagement, optimise supply chain operations and costs and enhance customer experience across channels. Let’s walk through a few examples.
Earlier this year, news that Amazon had acquired Souq.com threw the Middle East retail scene into turmoil, for the e-commerce giant’s hunger for growth is legendary. Yet over the ensuing months, business has more or less returned to normal. As we consider how Amazon changed the face of India’s e-commerce landscape forever – despite a late entry onto the local scene – and given the many similarities seen between India and Middle East market conditions, we could well be witnessing the calm before the storm.
Noon.com, the $1 billion e-commerce joint venture founded by Mohamed Alabbar, was announced in November 2016 as a ‘future-focused company which is the biggest online shopping platform ever seen in the region’. Its launch at the time was expected in January 2017.
Since then, noon acquired JadoPado in May and appointed Faraz Khalid (formerly of Namshi) as CEO in July following Emaar’s acquisition of 51% of Namshi.com. Meanwhile, Amazon completed their acquisition of Souq.com in July.
On the evening of the 30th September the long awaited noon.com went live followed by a dozen announcements in the regional press. By the end of the next day, The National even published a price comparison benchmark with their direct rival Souq.com.
We visited the website of this new marketplace with a lot of excitement and asked ourselves ‘Is noon.com up to market expectations?’
In our article Meeting the omnichannel expectations of your customers, we talked about the business loss that may result from lack of in-store adoption of the ecommerce channel and how it could affect the customer perception of your brand as a whole.
More recently, we have been talking to several Middle East retail groups who have taken the plunge into ecommerce, but are realising multichannel is not being so readily adopted throughout their organisations.
How brick & mortar fashion brands sell online in the UAE
Whilst the store remains the favorite destination for apparel shopping, digital is increasingly influencing
in-store sales and more and more brands such as Marks & Spencer, Nordstrom and Net-A-Porter are selling online in the UAE.
As online shopping is increasingly being adopted by UAE consumers, we have reviewed the country’s
e-commerce fashion landscape.
Our analysis of the e-commerce presence of
450 brands in the UAE revealed five main groups. In this report, we delve into each one of these models in more details and share insights about their benefits and disadvantages for retailers.
Download the full report
From department stores through to grocers and mall operators, omnichannel is rapidly gaining momentum in the MENA region. As more and more retailers are evaluating which way to go in the age of digital and customer-centricity, we highlight in this short article the key differentiators between siloed-multichannel and fully transformational omnichannel approaches.
In our previous article, we reviewed some of the digital tools used by retailers to drive store footfall and customer engagement with their products and brands.
In the second of this 2-part series, we will now look at examples of digital technologies that can be used in store to drive conversion levels and sales.
In March, we released our Multichannel grocery shopping report which analyzed from a customer perspective the multichannel offerings of 4 leading grocers in the UAE. In parallel to this, Geant and Choithrams, who were both reviewed in the report, have released new versions of their respective e-commerce websites. Beyond the noticeably revamped designs though, what are the main changes which have been implemented and have they improved the overall customer experience?
Due to the digital evolution, the bricks-and-mortar retailing space is changing with many analysts predicting that we will see more changes in the next 5 years than we have seen in the past 20.
Historically driven by a need to stop stores simply becoming showrooms, retailers now have access to an abundance of digitally interactive solutions they can use in pursuing their overall business objectives, from driving customer engagement and loyalty through to conversion and sales.
In the first of a 2-part article, we will look at some of the technologies and tools which can be used by retailers to drive footfall and customer engagement levels in the store itself.
Addressing pain points of apparel shopping
Zara recently opened a new store in Soho, their first one to feature the “smart” dressing room using RFID technology. Inside the fitting room, customers can see on a touch screen the product information of the items they brought in, all tagged with RFID, as well as available sizes and colors.
Zara smart dressing room enables shoppers to request other colors and sizes without leaving the fitting room.
RFID is an exciting technology with numerous possible retail applications. Yet, it is often used to showcase digital innovation or generate buzz. Zara’s initiative on the other hand appears more customer-centric than technology-driven: it enhances the customer path, rather than changing or disrupting it, and simply makes it easier and more convenient.