Store Digitizing in the UAE

Global and local brands in the UAE are progressively introducing digital innovation into shopping malls

If brands in the UAE largely benefit from the strong mall traffic, they still need to differentiate from competition. This is what Hollister, the Abercrombie & Fitch’s brand, has successfully achieved in Dubai upon opening its first point of sale in the Middle East, at Mall of the Emirates.

By covering the storefront of its new outlet with a giant digital wall displaying a Californian beachfront, the retailer has immediately achieved massive brand awareness. Hiding what lies inside the store behind a digital storefront, in a darkish atmosphere, created an exclusive club environment that fosters consumers’ curiosity. The store has encountered significant traffic since its opening earlier this year.

Hollister’s Dubai Mall of the Emirates storefront’s massive screen displaying a Californian

In Dubai Mall of the Emirates, Hollister uses a giant screen as storefront to attract shoppers and increase brand awareness

The experience extends inside the store with large screens also displaying the same Californian beachfront. The impact of Hollister’s action on traffic acquisition appears evident. However, the effect on conversion remains unobvious since today, the experience does not seem to be linked to any particular marketing initiative or campaign (e.g. messaging, new collection, special offers, event…).

The absence of interactivity and the redundant video inside the store might rapidly result in a “déjà vu”, and potentially have a deceptive effect on the most digital-savvy consumers. Yet, a key advantage of store digitizing is the possibility to frequently vary content and connect with customers, provided the required back-office and Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) capabilities are available.

Globally, the Abercrombie & Fitch’s brand has undergone an important customer centric and data-driven transformation, making the in-store experience an important part of its CRM strategy. Yet for now, Hollister’s Dubai innovative storefront appears to be more of a promotion digital signage in support of the launch of the brand in the region, than a new in-store digital experience.

Connecting with customers using augmented-reality in pop-up stores

End of last year, the luxury retail destination The Galleria Mall in Abu Dhabi deployed a pop-up store, offering a new digital shopping experience based on augmented reality. Using shape recognition, shoppers were able to virtually try on clothing and accessories from different luxury brands in a very innovative dressing-room.

The Galleria Mall in Abu Dhabi deployed a digital ‘dressing room’ that uses augmented reality to create stylish outfits and share via social media.

A key benefit of such a concept is the ability for retailers and brands to gather a sense of which products shoppers are interested in, by collecting customer behaviour data. Furthermore, through using mobile marketing and social media, retailers can establish and develop personalized relationships.

The digitized pop-up store is a powerful marketing tool, which in the case of a retailer group with multiple brands and points of sale, can generate a substantial return on investment – including monetizing revenue.

Sources

Hollister Opens at Mall of the Emirates Beauty News Middle East
Abercrombie & Fitch Q3 2013 Analyst Day Presentation
Abu Dhabi shoppers’ alert: No more multiple visits to trial rooms in mall – emirates247.com
3D Virtual styling comes to the UAE for the first time with Galleria’s style pod – tempoplanet.com

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