Business | Retail

Region’s online retailing confronts simplicity issue

‘While internet retailing ranks as a top five sector globally, in the Middle East it languishes in 18th’

  • By Manoj Nair, Associate Editor
  • Published: 14:48 November 4, 2013
  • Gulf News

Dubai: There would be more e-shoppers in the Middle East if the transaction process was much more straightforward. Not just that, shoppers would spend more while doing so.

A survey by the marketing consultancy Siegel+Gale found Middle East consumers as “more likely to recommend a brand if it provides simpler experiences and communications”. So much so, web retailing ranks only 18th among key sectors, according to the study.

The Middle East has seen an explosion in e-commerce related ventures in the last three years, though how many have actually turned the corner from a financial perspective is to be seen. Take-up rates among consumers have been particularly high in the UAE and Saudi Arabia among regional markets. But, while online vendors have been able to assuage concerns over security of shopper data, they will need to do more on making transactions easier. “Internet retail in the Middle East is not making life any easier — this should be a primary tenant for any online vendor brand experience,” said Liana Dinghile, Siegel+Gale’s director of strategy. “Complexity is rife throughout the supply chain; a still developing infrastructure that relies on much human interaction with browsers is ultimately killing off any trust in the sector.

“In short the promise is not being fulfilled by the experience. So, while Internet retailing ranks as a top five sector globally, in the Middle East it languishes in 18th.”

“Companies who invest heavily polishing the outside of their brand without consideration for the internal process set themselves up for a fall,” said Joumana El Hage, senior strategic planner at Cheil. “It is vitally important that organisations understand where their customers are most likely to be influenced along the path to purchase and ensure communications are kept simple and understandable.”

Online ventures in the region have done better on localising content where possible. “As Internet penetration is so high in the Middle East, online brands have adapted their service by offering the same product localised for an Arabic audience,” said Dinghile.

“Those that succeed are those that make the lives of consumers easier; from paying bills online to booking hotels with one click of a button. The challenge for brands is to innovate and improve a customer’s life without complicating the experience. The same principle applies across the world.”

Gulf News
Business Editor's choice
Quick Access

  1. Markets

  2. Economy

  3. Property

  4. Aviation

Business Top Stories

  1. Saudi greenlight to open bourse to foreigners

  2. Everything politicised in great economic debates

  3. Bringing the Internet of Things to DIYers

  4. Huawei gains from China telecoms spend

  5. 'Carriers must respond to MH17 downing'