Omar Ahmed (December 17, 2012)
Whatever the region, or whatever the market, there is one established fact that bears all the hallmarks of a technology-centric world. The coming of the digital age, as it has made its presence felt elsewhere, is landing with supersonic resonance in the UAE, and the market is feeling the ripples every day.
The “digital consumer” has access to price comparisons through the click of a button, and only those that truly understand the big impact of that small click are paying attention to a mature, online model to complement their on-ground strategies. From a customer acquisition perspective, these strategies will go a long way in establishing their Emirati brand awareness.
The ability to read the market’s underlying movements, in real-time, is the gap between leading and lagging. Those who know the power of UAE’s digital retail, or e-commerce, framework are focusing equally on their online presence, as they do to their on-ground branding.
Earning a top 10 ranking amongst A.T.Kearney’s 2012 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), the UAE has adjusted greatly to a modernized world.
Earning a 100% score for “Online Infrastructure Establishment, and a 77% for “Digital Laws & Regulations”, the Emirates has the highest internet penetration rate per household in the Middle East, which happens to be a high 78%. Moreover, its retail sales per capita are at par with the United States & Sweden, at $9155. A.T. Kearney calls it “the gateway to other oil-rich Middle Eastern states.”
With such e-commerce opportunity, paying attention to digital models is a must, and market-leaders are doing that. Analyze a statement from Stefan Herzog, MD at Estee Lauder UAE, “Estee Lauder Companies ME is investing efforts to enhance the consumer experience. We offer products through many different retail channels, from digital to free standing.” Also, “Future retailing is very much on top of our mind in everything we do.” (Source: Dubai Future Retail Conference, 2012)
Successful digital retail models exist to show new entrants the way. Take Souq.com as an example, which boasts the “Best E-Commerce Website” award by the UAE Web Awards. Its success lies in offering customers a safe, easy-to-use digital environment, to find an exceptional range of leading brands and products at the click of a button.
Furthermore, Carrefour, a leading retailer in UAE, has launched its online store to compliment the on-ground hypermarts spread over thousands of square kilometers. The online store offers everything, from baby products to expensive electronics. Why does Carrefour pay so much attention to its online presence? Because they realize how quickly the Emirati consumer is evolving.
When launching your digital sales model, be sure to angle it in such a way, that it has something for local consumers, as well as the tourists that will be sure to visit the site, before arriving in the UAE and visiting the store.
This is evident from the online strategies that leading malls in the UAE have adopted, creating detailed websites that shed insight into the shopping experience, and how that experience connects to the shopping needs of locals and expats. The ideal local-meets-tourist strategy will act as a solid game-changer, when it comes to ranking up sales numbers via the digital platform.
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