Is noon on its way to deliver the best ecommerce experience in the GCC?

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?’

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Geant and Choithrams websites redesign: have they improved the customer experience?

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?

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Zara RFID fitting room: making apparel shopping easier

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.

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.

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Benefits of personas in multichannel commerce

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United Arab Emirates retailers deal with more than a hundred nationalities. This means different cultures and various shopping habits, sensitivities and aesthetics preferences. When designing an e-commerce website, an app or even an email blast, it is essential to know and understand your target user. Unfortunately, there is no “common user” and different customer groups must be addressed differently. It is even truer in the UAE, where it is unlikely the designer shares the same cultural background as his/her target audience.

This is where personas come into play: personas are fictional characters representing typical users or customers; they help shape profiles based on needs, motivations and desires. As we wrote in a previous blog on User Experience, creating personas can greatly facilitate decision-making, and also reduce errors and rework hours traditionally associated with design concept misinterpretations as part of multichannel projects.

In this article, we will not delve into what personas are, as there is plenty of literature on this topic, but focus more on their benefits for a multichannel business, in particular in the UAE.

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How User Experience matters in multichannel commerce – Part II

General estimates of the value of investment in User Experience design vary from a return of $2 to $100 for every $1 invested.

Last month we wrote about how User Experience design matters in helping satisfying customers growing multichannel expectations, through understanding the users, their context and the interfaces they are interacting with.

We mainly focused on the customer demands and we will now see how User Experience design participates in meeting business objectives.

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How User Experience matters in multichannel commerce – Part I

As customers are interacting with more and more channels and touchpoints, it becomes essential for brands to adapt to their context and deliver meaningful interactions in order to satisfy their growing expectations.

Following the relaunch of its ecommerce site at the end of 2013, Halfords online sales have risen 13.7% from the same time last year.

Whenever adding a new channel, improving an existing touchpoint or redesigning the entire omnichannel setup of a brand, User Experience expertise actively participates to increasing conversion rates, repeat purchase and ultimately market share.

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The changing role of the store

Consumer adoption of digital commerce, a great opportunity for the store

In today’s new retail landscape, synergies between offline and online channels of a merchant are ubiquitous.

John Lewis customer multichannel behaviour and revenue snapshot. Source: The John Lewis Retail Report 2014.

John Lewis customer multichannel behaviour and revenue snapshot. Source: The John Lewis Retail Report 2014.

Click & Collect (pick-up in the shop of an order placed online) is now a must-have service for any brick & mortar’s e-commerce given its rapid adoption by shoppers and uplift effect on basket value. According to Forrester, a third of customers collecting orders in store make an additional impulse purchase.
Another evidence of the value of the store in digital commerce is Amazon’s recent announcement to launch its first physical outlet in New York City, a revolution for the global e-tailer.

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Designing a mobile touchpoint: the single-purpose app

When planning a new app, the current trend is to keep it simple and focus on its effectiveness to meet business objectives

Multi-purpose apps are progressively being abandoned as connected-consumers increasingly favour micro-interactions with specialised apps. One of the most eloquent illustration of this trend is Facebook’s “unbundling strategy”. The social media giant is moving away from multi-purpose apps (which they call “the portal syndrome”) and is now acquiring or developing a network of specialised apps, with very specific sets of functionalities: Paper, Instagram, Whatsapp to name a few.

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The new In-Store Experience

The role of the store is being reinvented to showcase, entertain and deliver a personalized experience through customer centricity and digital technology

Photograph of Regent Street Burberry Store

Burberry Regent Street flagship store aims at bridging physical and digital worlds.

The rise of the connected consumer and e-commerce is profoundly reshaping consumer expectations and behavior.
To remain relevant, retail and telecom are reinventing the role of their stores in the customer journey, turning them into entertaining shopping destinations.
New breeds of “flagship stores” and “stores of the future” have therefore emerged, making extensive use of digital technology to deliver unique brand experiences. Often articulated around lifestyle, they aim at reinventing the shopping experience by showcasing, entertaining and personalizing interactions.

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