Alabbar’s shopping site Noon goes live’: Will we see prices drop?
Noon will empower the region's youth to participate in the growing digital economy.
Battle lines are redrawn in the fast growing online retail landscape of the UAE. Customers can indeed expect a new era of shopping experience offering irresistible bargains galore following the launch of operations by the region’s newest e-commerce platform on Sunday.
Noon, the digital marketplace created in the region, “for the region and powered by the region’s leading retailers,” has gone live from Sunday, providing the region’s customers with wide collection of products ranging from electronics, fashion, beauty, baby, home and kitchen and grocery.
Noon’s Arabic-first digital platform will commence operations in Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks, the e-commerce operator said.
With several players already in the fray, the UAE is witnessing a significant upturn in its online market volumes. Sales are estimated to reach Dh6.6 billion in 2017, driven by a dramatic surge in electronics sale estimated at Dh1.5 billion, according to latest available data.
Retail market analysts argue that with the online shopping sector gets hectic with the entry of more operators, it is inevitable a price war is on the cards.
“Therefore, it is the customer who will eventually reap rewards in terms of wider choices and alluring price tags that only online platforms can afford to offer in contrast to conventional brick and mortar shopping platforms.”
Founded by Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, the developer behind the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, Noon, which is estimated to have made an initial $1 billion investment, is backed by a group of prominent Gulf investors including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Kuwait’s M.H. Alshaya & Co among others.
Noon had asked customers to browse the online platform’s catalogue of brands by downloading the Noon Mobile App via Google Play Store or by visiting www.noon.com. The mobile app via App Store will be available in the coming days.
Initially, the platform offers a selection of fashion brands and an extensive selection of baby products and homeware. “For millennials, Noon is showcasing a collection of modern gadgets and electronic goods. Noon will also cater to the needs of book lovers, adventurers and new parents,” the e-commerce operator said in a statement.
“Today, we are excited to deliver orders to our first customers. We are proud to take this important first step in our journey, and we are committed to making Noon the region’s Arabic-first e-commerce platform,” said Alabbar.
“As digital technologies cause disruptions across industries and geographies, it is important for us to shape a digital marketplace that is relevant to our local markets and serves as a growth platform for brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Alabbar, who had made a bid to buy the region’s leading online shopping platform Souq.com that was eventually bought by global e-commerce giant Amazon early this year for a reported $580 million price.
Analysts said just as it happened in India, where the e-commerce landscape dramatically transformed with the entry of America and China’s ecommerce titans — Amazon and Alibaba — posing a major challenge to major home-grown players, Flipkart and Snapdeal, the roll out of operations by Noon could not only severely dent the monopoly of Souq.com but also unleash a discount war that will benefit shoppers.
Other e-commerce players in the UAE include Awok.com, Namshi, Marka VIP, Wadi.com and JadoPado.
Devesh Mamtani, head of Investments & Advisory at Century Financial Brokers, said the entry of Noon was a welcome move for the e-commerce sector as it would offer consumers more options to choose from.
“Price wars with other competitors like Souq.com shall benefit customers. Noon will serve as a platform for brick-and-mortar retailers. We see this as big step in the e-commerce sector for our region,” said Mamtani.
A spokesman of Souq.com, however said: “At Souq we focus on customers not competition. We continue to work on providing customers with the biggest selection, the best prices and an exceptional customer experience”.
Noon said it had recruited young Arab and global talent with e-commerce experience. With offices in Riyadh and Dubai, Noon will empower the region’s youth to participate in the growing digital economy. Noon already employs some of the brightest young Saudi, Emirati and Arab talent and is actively opening the digital marketplace to emerging entrepreneurs adding to its already established active supplier base in the kingdom.
“Noon will use its local roots to deliver a service that is warm, attentive and personalised. In showcasing a growing product assortment, Noon derives strength from its strong connections with the local retail community. Noon’s marketplace platform will empower large and small businesses to participate in the region’s growing e-commerce market,” the e-commerce provider said.
Noon has partnered with several leading retailers, and continues to onboard new suppliers and merchandise daily. Last month, leading international retail franchise operator M.H. Alshaya Co. acquired a strategic stake in the company, and will list its portfolio of international brands covering fashion, health & beauty and home & lifestyle categories on Noon’s platform.
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