"Traditionally, customer loyalty and experience have been looked at as two different – if parallel – topics, by businesses and experts," Sajid Azmi, Founder & CEO of Yegertek, told AMEinfo.
As technology in the retail sector continues to evolve, our understanding of the concepts of customer experience and loyalty are constantly changing. This was only exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which put more pressure on companies to elevate their customer experiences and loyalty offerings as the retail landscape underwent a significant shift.
AMEinfo had the opportunity to speak with Dubai startup Yegertek, a digital solution provider in the omni-channel customer experience and retail analytics space that is 'disrupting the old-school vision of brand loyalty.'
"Traditionally, customer loyalty and experience have been looked at as two different – if parallel – topics, by businesses and experts," Sajid Azmi, Founder & CEO of Yegertek, told AMEinfo. "The innovation that Yegertek offers, through [our customer engagement engine and loyalty IP] Engage365, is to drive both experience and loyalty concurrently, and get customer engagement right for brands and business."
Azmi talks about the company's early beginnings, funding background, and more in this exclusive interview.
Can you share with us some information on your core services and solutions and how you hope to innovate within the customer loyalty field?
Our core customer engagement engine and loyalty IP, ‘Engage 365’, is a preferred solution on ‘Microsoft AppSource’, and Yegertek was also selected for ‘Microsoft for Startups’, in 2019. We are a one-stop-shop for customer loyalty that leverages the Microsoft ecosystem, as well as latest technology trends around Azure Machine Learning, AI, Chatbots, and Beacons.
Engage 365 allows companies of all sizes - from small business to enterprise organizations - to run simple to complex customer engagement and loyalty programs. Using our solutions, businesses are able to drive value for their customers through personalized offerings, while keeping their data private. Traditionally, customer loyalty and experience have been looked at as two different – if parallel – topics, by businesses and experts. The innovation that Yegertek offers, through Engage365, is to drive both experience and loyalty concurrently, and get customer engagement right for brands and business.
What led you to create Yegertek? What market need did you feel you needed to address?
In a previous phase of my career, I was the CTO of Geant Hypermarkets – which was then part of Retail Arabia before its acquisition by MAF. While looking for a customer loyalty solution for Geant, I came to the realization that there were not enough effective solutions and offerings, in this space.
The few solutions that I encountered, during my search, were either priced far too high for the functionality they were offering, or cost effective but too basic. It was then that is I realized that there was a void in the market, for a good loyalty solution, which was competitively priced but also had all the bells and whistles that a modern business would need for their loyalty and engagement needs. So, when the opportunity presented itself post the acquisition of Geant Hypermarkets, I moved on to launch Yegertek with my Co-Founder Zain Shaikh.
What are some of the projects you've been involved in so far?
We are a young company, but we have been fortunate to have already partnered with reputed businesses across diverse sectors. We helped one of the leading jewellers in the GCC to refine and optimize their customer journey, by leveraging analytics. We have been part of the development of an omnichannel presence and loyalty program, for an organic supermarket in the UAE, a leading luxury fashion retailer, the number one ride booking app in Malta, and many more clients with very specific and unique needs.
We recently helped a top robotics company build their customer engagement portal, created a B2B loyalty program for one of the top ceramic distributors in KSA, and have signed up with a well-known F&B chain, for a loyalty roll out which will span six countries. So, as you can tell, we have been able to deliver positives across several business sectors and customer demographics, which is driving our experience and validating our solution, in turn.
More from Sajid Azmi: Why good customer experience is your best leverage in the experience economy
Can you share with us any information regarding past, present and future financing?
At our inception, Yegertek was established with seed capital from the founders, and we are now looking for growth funding for aggressive expansion into KSA and other GCC countries. Our aim is to leverage emerging technologies - such as Machine Learning, AI, Chatbots and Beacons, as well as state of the art strategies - to create consistent product innovation in the customer loyalty space.
Yegertek has been busy dealing with queries from several prospective clients, during the pandemic, which is a strong indicator of the growing importance of e-Commerce, Customer Experience, Customer Relationship Management and Loyalty. Across industries and sectors, businesses have realized that their digital presence needs to be targeted and customized to their needs, in order for them to derive maximum benefit from it. Optimizing omnichannel experiences has been a growing global trend, for some time now. However, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of the strategy, especially in the MENA region. In the UAE and KSA in particular, we are seeing a surge in the proliferation of e-Commerce and digital commerce, since the pandemic.
Yegertek was already receiving a high volume of enquiries, even before the pandemic. As a result, we have completed our market recon and our regional partnerships are all ready to go. We are excited about venturing into a new phase of our engagement with the market, by expanding and taking our footprint to the next level.
How has Yegertek fared during the pandemic?
Across all business sectors, businesses have undertaken massive cost cuts, as a result of the extended disruption that has resulted from the post COVID-19 lockdowns. Companies, whether recently formed or well established, have been forced to curtail their operations or even shut shop.
Thankfully, because of the projects Yegertek has in execution, as well as a steady stream of new sign-ups, we have continued to grow. We have neither had to turn to salary cuts, nor had to resort to lay-offs, to remain viable during this period. In fact, the number of our employees increased, and we are looking to expand even more. I think this is largely due to the fact that the pandemic forced businesses to re-evaluate their priorities and their customer engagement. Digital transformation, especially of the customer facing sort that Yegertek offers, has been identified as a quick and powerful win, by most companies. Hence the prioritized move for the strategy, from boardroom meetings to implementation.
What are your plans moving forward?
We are currently looking to raise growth funding, but regardless of that process, we are already looking to innovate further. Yegertek is expanding into other GCC countries, apart from the UAE, and this is taking shape starting with some projects in KSA. The positive growth pipelines, and the conversations we have set off in the industry, have everyone at Yegertek excited. The potential that we as business, and our model as a whole, are unlocking is huge. Both the size of the market, as well as the scope of the transformation on offer, will ensure that the customer loyalty space will witness seismic changes in the new few years. Yegertek plans to be at the cutting edge, of this evolution.