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 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?
More an Offer than a Demand issue
The lack of credible digital commerce offering in the UAE remains an ever true fact with only 15% of its population shopping online. Given the country has an Internet penetration of 80% and one of the world’s highest smartphone penetration (78%), the paradox is striking.
Any analyst of mature online markets would regard this as nothing but pure heresy, since the more connected consumers a brand has, the more additional revenue it can draw from them. The reality is somewhat more complex and the relatively weak development of e-commerce in the UAE has reasons beyond lack of trust and payment security concerns, as often raised by vendors in their pitches.
UAE connected consumers are increasingly relying on web and mobile services to communicate and facilitate aspects of their day-to-day life. The development of e-services and mobile apps in the region, heavily pushed by the government, is increasingly generalizing electronic payments. Online payment has actually been a common practice in the Emirates for traveling purposes for some time. UAE consumers are now ready for more relevant and actionable online content and services, which local retailers are yet to provide them.
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.
In this article, we share on the opportunities behind choosing mobile as first channel when devising new market strategies.
The New Default Form Factor
“Of the 10 million people in Egypt who access the mobile web, 70% of them are mobile only — they never use the desktop internet.”
Burberry broadcasts live fashion shows exclusively on mobile, allowing viewers to purchase and even personalize products.
In the MENA region more than anywhere else, mobile is increasingly becoming the default Internet access channel.
This is actually very good news for businesses as mobile touchpoints enable greater customer engagement and interactions with a brand.