UAE's e-commerce players need to be innovators
Innovation remains at the forefront of growth and maturity of e-commerce globally
The most important role that e-commerce players in the UAE should be playing is that of an “innovator”, says Jad Toubayly, founder and CEO of e-commerce platform Idealz.
“Innovation remains at the forefront of growth and maturity of e-commerce globally, and to innovate is the best way to maintain the upward trend of online shopping that we are experiencing in the UAE,” he told Khaleej Times.
Observing the growing popularity of online shopping in the region, he noted that consumers are becoming more comfortable with online shopping.
“As the world digitalises more and more, it is expected that this trend will continue further. Advances in smartphone technology, online security, digital payment, logistics, and the general encouragement from a wide range of industries to go digital, have certainly made people more comfortable with online shopping. The newer generations are also very tech affluent and have a preference for everything digital,” Toubayly said.
He added that there are many reasons why people are preferring to shop online, especially now with the encouragement of social distancing and various lockdown measures being taken globally.
“Convenience, better pricing, wider product selection and user reviews are some of the main reasons we are seeing why people are opting to shop online. The Internet has no walls or physical space restrictions. The ability for an online shopper to source whatever it is they are looking for from anywhere in the world has put the traditional brick and mortar businesses at a significant disadvantage.”
Toubayly’s observations are supported by a recent Mastercard study, which revealed that, as the global Covid-19 pandemic continues to spur e-commerce, nearly three out of four UAE consumers are shopping more online than they did before the pandemic.
More than 73 per cent of UAE consumers said that they had shopped more online for groceries, 66 per cent for clothing and over 60 per cent said that they had purchased medicine online. While adapting to the ‘next normal’, people have also been changing the way that they consume entertainment and learn new skills.
The study showed that 73 per cent of UAE consumers said that they were using the downtime as a positive learning experience. More than 50 per cent said that they had taken a virtual cooking class, 34 per cent have been mastering a new language, and 26 per cent have been learning to dance online.
In addition, 44 per cent of respondents have been educating themselves on do-it-yourself projects, and 38 per cent said that they have been learning how to film online.
As people spend more time at home, the demand for online entertainment has also surged with 78 per cent of respondents having invested in entertainment subscriptions, and 56 per cent in online gaming.
Mohammed Sleiman, founder of UAE-based ‘re-commerce’ solutions provider, Cartlow, said that compared to other mature markets around the world, the e-commerce market still has a large room for growth in the UAE.
“Within the last year and during the Covid-19 pandemic, we began to see more competition and a change in consumer behavior; the growth of e-commerce will certainly accelerate. The current situation has driven many consumers to become cost-conscious and price became the main driver for conversion,” he said.
Sleiman says affordability should be a leadership principle, “therefore we have digitised this and built key metrics for every category and condition behind this ecosystem”.
Toubayly added that all the incentives offered by various sales festivals such as White Friday have aided in converting traditional buyers to online buyers.
“The price drops and other offers are too big to ignore and this drives huge traffic to the online shopping experience. The repetition and frequency of these sales festivals throughout the year makes online shopping habitual to the consumer, and this aids in the growth of e-commerce in the UAE,” he added.
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