Consumers seek change – but the key will be delivery
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.”
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