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 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?
Virgin Megastore MENA launched their first e-commerce channel and transform themselves into an omnichannel organization in only 9 months.
Gain unique insights on this project, from inception through to launch, and find out how we helped the leading lifestyle & entertainment brand deliver the first omnichannel experience in the Middle East.
Read the case study
The UAE online grocery market: a massive growth potential
Whilst the UAE online grocery market is still in its infancy, the potential for growth is exponential when we consider:
- The relatively low labour and fuel costs in the UAE, which could be a key enabler for new players moving into the online grocery market.
- The ability to quickly onboard lessons learned or tried and tested methods from other countries. For example, the concept of ‘store-to-home’ fulfillment, which has replaced ‘warehouse-to-home’ in more recent years.
An evaluation of four retailers from a customer perspective
In our exclusive report, we analyzed from a customer perspective the perceived value and unique benefits of the online channel for four regional brick & mortar grocers, to understand how well they were meeting the multichannel expectations of today’s UAE consumers.
Download your free copy of the full report
Over the past 20 years we have seen a stampede of traditional retailers adding an online channel, with almost all now offering some form of Click & Collect as part of their service proposition.
Pure players though appeared to be already ahead of the game with speed to market, technological advancements, endless aisles and lower cost base modeling as the dominant factor for them to remain solely online.