Accelerating Ecommerce in MEA

8th Décembre 2020

The Middle East markets have been relatively slow in identifying the huge opportunities available from e-commerce endeavours. This is beginning to change rapidly as retailers struggle with the harsh realities and damaging fiscal effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

We know that e-commerce had a big impact in MEA before the COVID-19 crisis. However, COVID-19 has accelerated the need for developing e-commerce even more and faster than anticipated.

The retailers in the MEA region that have performed the best during the COVID-19 crisis have leveraged powerful digital capabilities. In synthesizing its excellence in the Middle East and its unrivalled knowledge of luxury, the Chalhoub Group is building brands in the region. In 2018 a joint venture brought together the Chalhoub Group’s market knowledge and luxury distribution network with Farfetch’s global e-commerce platform to increase Middle Eastern consumers’ access to luxury brands online. Being consumer centric, The @Chalhoub Group wanted to bring new proposals to their clients while accelerating their digital journey. 

When beginning a journey into digital transition in MEA there are clear opportunities for exposure to a very large market. An assessment of social media usage in Saudi Arabia and Dubai alone has revealed there are approximately 63 million Instagram users and 33 million Snapchat users that would be accessible with a presence on these platforms alone. With clearly defined objectives, it is possible to strengthen the relationship with both partners, existing and new customers simultaneously. 

Effective change management is crucial when undertaking such transformation. Setting precise strategy and objectives from the very beginning is key in aligning the vision across the organisation. 

Building a website and/or mobile app are the ultimate solutions in constructing an e-commerce solution integrated into the company. These tools allow capability for end to end operations, multi-channel marketing and product assortment processes allowing the company to grow revenue digitally. In my opinion, today I believe that omni-channel strategy is the key to success and can no longer be ignored.

To accelerate the process in making an online solution available, there is the option of leveraging off-the-shelf technology tools. There are also ready-made e-commerce platforms, analytics capabilities, and software to support each company’s ways of working.

Increasing online presence over several key touch points such as web, mobile, tablets and kiosks in store opens a door to yielding unprecedented growth no matter the customer demographic. There is no limit to ‘conventional’ social media usage, it can be used in many creative ways, such as event promotion. 

In 2014, while working with the Kenzo marketing team in collaboration with the Chalhoub Group, we chose to shift traditional media spend on to social media “big ideas” like the ‘Kenzo bus’ touring Dubai and Abu Dhabi which was so successful we soon expanded to other cities in key Kenzo markets. The use of social media influencers, and events we organised such as the “Salt” beach parties and Kenzo burger operations in Dubai were at that time extremely innovative and considered as “bold ideas”. However it was the ideal way of bringing Kenzo fashion items to a new target audience, including a younger demographic and those not as receptive to the previous communication strategies. 

Following a similar understanding of the market needs, with @AlYasra Fashion (@alyasrafashion) in Kuwait, we collaborated with Ascia, an influencer from Kuwait. She hosted a large event creating a buzz in a flagship Kenzo Store with a VIP attendence, who were keen on wearing Kenzo new collection outfits for this memorable event. By making it fun and unique, we reinvented the in-store event.

Likewise in Russia, It was such a pleasure and an honor to work with Miroslava Duma (@Miraduma) and the Kenzo team. Miroslava Duma, is a force in the fashion industry and well-established in the digital world. The Kenzo sweatshirt Miroslava Duma wore with the tiger became a “must-have”. Thanks to Kenzo’s innovative artistic choices and the collaboration with this fashion icon, they became the trend of the moment and sold out very quickly. She had an eye for style and was able to make it work well with bold jewellery and unexpected bottoms such as a printed skirt and heels.

In all digital transformation scenarios, speed is of the essence. If the MEA region can act decisively on digital initiatives, they can offset the impact of the crisis, recapture lost sales, and be ready for rapid growth in the next normal. With use of e-commerce within a portfolio of sales channels, you can help take care of the future, today.

For further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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