Con­sumers seek change – but the key will be de­liv­ery

7 Days in Dubai - - BUSINESS - @B_shosh

By Shoshana Ke­dem The launch of “game-chang­ing” shop­ping plat­form Noon.com marks a ma­jor shift to on­line after years of tra­di­tional re­tail­ing, ex­perts and con­sumers say.

Ashish Pan­jabi, Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer at elec­tron­ics chain Jacky’s, said re­tail­ers need to change with the times.

He said: “Re­tail con­stantly evolves and be­ing where the cus­tomer is is para­mount to re­tail­ing suc­cess.

“We know that our cus­tomers are in shop­ping malls but they’re also on smart­phones and lap­tops, so be­ing ac­ces­si­ble to them ir­re­spec­tive of chan­nel is the only way to con­tinue to be successful mov­ing for­ward as a re­tailer.”

Tech­nol­ogy entrepreneur PK Gu­lati, Found­ing Part­ner of The Smart Start Fund, said the high cost of rent­ing mall space and the fact many re­tail­ers own ex­clu­sive rights to the prod­ucts they sell has led to con­sumers pay­ing above the odds in the past.

He said: “Reg­u­lar re­tail in the re­gion has flour­ished, in part, due to bar­ri­ers put in through high cost of re­tail space, ex­clu­sive rights... etc. On­line re­tail breaks a lot of those bar­ri­ers… and has led to con­sumers re­al­iz­ing the over­head they pay.”

Gu­lati said to of­fer an ef­fi­cient de­liv­ery sys­tem re­quires a great deal of fund­ing.

He said: “This is a game for deep pock­ets and the pro­mot­ers do have them, so I think they do have the ini­tial right in­gre­di­ents to be­gin, but all will de­pend upon the tal­ent and tech­nol­ogy that they can at­tract and build.”

He said firms such as Souq.com, Namshi, Wadi and Jado Pado have “done a lot to get us on the on­line re­tail high­way in the re­gion”.

One key chal­lenge for Noon.com will be to en­sure they can guar­an­tee timely de­liv­ery, con­sumers said.

Ann Vaz, 24, a mar­ket­ing co-or­di­na­tor liv­ing in Abu Dhabi, said: “If I place an or­der and get it the same day that’s def­i­nitely an ad­van­tage be­cause most web­sites claim they will de­liver your goods in two days, but end up send­ing it in a week.”

She said some firms have be­gun hon­our­ing prom­ises for next day de­liv­ery, but that they do not al­ways have the prod­ucts she is look­ing for. She also or­ders from Chi­nese e-com­merce firm Ali Ex­press “which can take up to a month to de­liver”.

Shan­non Tip­petts, 24, a fire safety con­sul­tant also liv­ing in Abu Dhabi, shops on cloth­ing store Namshi but said many other goods are miss­ing from the mar­ket.

She said: “There are some things you still have to buy from Ama­zon and Ama­zon does not al­ways de­liver to the UAE.

“Most of the sites over here don’t cater for ev­ery­thing peo­ple need over here.”

SHOP AWAY: On­line sales in the re­gion are worth $3bn

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