Is e-commerce here to stay?

January 13, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair

“E-commerce in the GCC is a $22 billion market. It has seen a 32% year on year growth. By the end of 2020, it will account for 10% of total sales. It will more than double in the next 3 years and a recent study has shown that 50% of consumers are shopping more online since Covid”

These were the words with which Jeremy Denisty, Customer Director – Operational Lead MENA at Scopernia started the panel discussion on the e-commerce surge in the region. Also participating in the session were Heba Al Fazari, founder of Coveti, Majed M. Al Tahan, Founder and CEO, AYM and Co-founder & MD, Danube Online, Neelam Keswani, Director at Glamazle.

The numbers show that e-commerce is just here to stay but is going to be a strong driver of retail sales. However, one question that the industry has and many retailers are still struggling with is nailing personalization and connection online.

“Customers are looking for – speed, reliability, and overall prices. When you touch on these things customers realise that there are people behind these screens. And people need to feel that these aren’t just screens and systems, but there are actual people behind it”, Majed M. Al Tahan.

Being an e-grocer, when the pandemic hit, Dawood Online was burdened with a massive surge in orders. The market expanded tremendously, as a result of which their customers and clientele grew as well. But the fact that they had a 3-year head-start before the pandemic hit to deal with online traffic and customers, helped them focus on acquiring and retaining customers.

“We also empowered our customer service staff. Whenever you reach our customer service staff they try to go over and beyond to fulfill your needs. We assigned a customer service representative for one client who stays with him for many orders. This helps in retention and gaining live customers. Putting a personal touch on grocery shopping has been quite difficult but we are capitalizing on the 3 years head-start we got before the pandemic. So we realized that adding a personal touch to e-grocery shopping is a very essential part of our business”, he said.

For Al Fazari, it was always about an emotional connection and personal touch, without which her brand can’t survive.

“For luxury e-commerce shoppers, it is an emotional experience. Everything from A to Z has to be a perfect experience with a personalized touch. We introduced a new technology with an AI-empowered personal shopper. It talks to the customer, we train our bot to give our customers a very personalized experience. Virtual commerce as an added experience and the introduction of AI increased our conversion rate by 4 times”, she said.

Keswani’s business model has been all about the formula. They focused on the website looking slick, convenient and effective and that, according to her, would result in a good customer experience, which in turn would yield the results.

“Someone once told me that whenever you do something, make it very “stupid proof”. If you are talking about e-commerce, everything should be intelligent. That’s what we are doing”, she said.

“We wanted our website is beautiful, responsive, and give the right experience to the customer. The other thing we worked on is the fastest way to check out. Thirdly, have all the information needs to available right there for your customers from shipping details, any gifts, payment, timelines and these things eliminate the need for human interaction”, she added.




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