Complex Made Simple

Exclusive: Consumer, customization, content key to e-commerce growth

Alex Tchablakian, COO of shares his insights on the key trends driving the boom in e-commerce transactions in the UAE and the Middle East.

"Customers generally are okay with sharing their data, just as long as it helps them in their shopping experience" "Customers want products that they can feel good about; questions such as if the products are socially responsible" "“Targeting omnichannel is what is working ... An online presence is definitely key in this day and age"

If you’re in the e-commerce segment and you’re targeting consumers in the Middle East and North Africa region, the UAE is where the competition is the hottest. With an increasing number of players entering the space, it’s becoming quite clear that companies will need to pull something special out of their hat in order to stand out. 

E-commerce transactions in the UAE are expected to hit $16 billion (AED 59 billion) in 2019 and grow 23 percent on average annually between 2018 and 2022, according to a recent joint study by Dubai Economy and digital payment solutions leader Visa. To add a sense of perspective, thanks to the drive toward diversification, the growing digitalization trend, deeper internet penetration in the region, the smartphone boom, and the move toward smart transportation and smart cities, the MENA e-commerce market is the fastest growing globally.

One of the ways in which leading e-commerce players such as are making the most of technology and innovation to stay ahead of the curve is through the good old adage of putting their customer’s first – digitally.

“As more and more players are getting involved in e-commerce, you have to use everything within your arsenal in order to differentiate. One way you could do this is to offer a personalized experience to your customer’s journey. In this day and age, where customers are extremely conscious over their privacy, you have to be smart with how you go about this. Customers generally are okay with sharing their data, just as long as it helps them in their shopping experience. The use of AI and chatbots to assist a customer’s journey is another trend I see growing,” said Alex Tchablakian, COO,, said in an exclusive interview with AMEinfo.

Source: Global Media Insight

With deliveries being digitalized and grocery purchases moving online, millennials are driving a change in consumer behavior. According to the 2019 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 42 percent of millennials said they have begun or deepened a business relationship because they perceive a company’s products or services to have a positive impact on society and/or the environment

“One of the major changes we notice in our customers is that their developing values are influencing their purchase behavior. Customers want to buy products that they can feel really good about. Questions such as if the products are socially responsible, if they need to use such a big box, how and where is this product made, etc,” Alex Tchablakian said.

… and it’s not just the right product, sourced and sold the right way. It’s more than that. Millennial consumers are increasingly finding the balance between browsing and buying on their mobile phones, while also driving footfall to retail stores. Put together, the region’s UAE’s omnichannel retail experience is projected to rise to $63.8 billion by 2023, with online shopping, direct selling, mobile Internet, social media and home shopping expected to grow by a whopping 78 percent between 2018 and 2023, according to a Euromonitor report.

“Targeting omnichannel is what is working and is the way forward.  An online presence is definitely key in this day and age. Regardless of what your industry is, you have to be prepared for where it’ll be heading, and you don’t want to be playing catch up when all your other competitors have adapted to the digital age. Although both multi- and omnichannel involve selling across multiple physical and digital channels, the key difference is how the customer experience is joined up across those channels. Multichannel will introduce barriers to customers who want to script their own journey, and this will ultimately drive them towards the competition,” Alex Tchablakian said.

Also, the increasing competition is playing straight into the hands of the consumers … 

“Consumers now are extremely resourceful, and if they find anything concerning with your site, they’ll just move on to the next. There are just too many options, too many promotions, and too many comparison tools that make the analysis easier for them. You have to make sure everything is in order; brand loyalty has a very short fuse now,” Alex Tchablakian added. enjoys a steadfast following in its electronics, mobiles and gadget section. Alex explains that this is because the brand’s consumers have grown to trust the brand and its products.

“Adding a dose of reality to online shopping creates a physical store experience to the users, especially, while cross-selling or clustering of products. Content also plays a major role here – we provide them additional information about the product other than any other regular information. For instance, it could be a product demo given by a merchandiser. Video content is vital for increasing engagement and the right copy gets the user engaged. Also, social helps us in engaging with the existing and potential customers but only the right content would do the magic there and we don’t believe in spamming our users,” Alex Tchablakian concluded.