Dubai: Online retailing in the UAE is now stocking everyday consumer needs and not just fashion and tech gadgets. The consumer durables giant P&G is selling 10 of its brands — including Gillette, Head & Shoulders and Olay — through the online portal and will be raising the count to 30-35 brands before the year is out.

“We have a go-to-market strategy that states we should “win wherever people shop”,” Merve Diken, Procter & Gamble’s associate director, CBD, Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, said. “That’s important to understand in relation to e-commerce, which is an established sales channel globally. We want to be present where people are shopping and that increasingly includes online shopping in this region.”

Delivery of the orders will be managed by and limited to transactions originating within the UAE. These products will be selling at more or less the same retail price that they have in a physical store. But there will be leeway to offer promotions as at the physical stores.

A senior official also confirmed that users will within weeks have a dedicated portal to place transactions over a smartphone or tablet.

“The coming on board of P&G is part of a pattern where more and more of offline trading categories get replicated onto the online space,” Neil Tunbridge, sales director at, a Dubai Government-owned entity that ‘leases’ space on its site for retailers, said. “We have already had tech and fashion retailing transcend brick-and-mortar and get a significant amount of support online — the category of consumer durables is ripe to go through a similar transition.”

Highest margins

In the UAE, online selling has generally been dominated by tech gadgets, apparel and personal accessories. While the latter two generally have the highest margins on them, tech products compensate by creating the volumes and repeat visits by buyers.

In contrast, selling of fast-moving consumer durables was seen as too utilitarian for online selling in this market. Moreover, margins as such are on the extremely slim side.

“There’s a number of points that we need to bear in mind when we think about e-commerce and people’s online habits which we believe are universal,” Diken said. “Firstly, all of us are spending more time digitally to get information and education about various products. Secondly, people are starting to shop online more than in the past for some of our categories.

“Thirdly, digital has become a powerful platform for connecting with consumers and having two-way communications for the brand. Whereas in the past brands talked to customers, today it’s all about engagement and dialogue.

With the P&G and alliance, the tipping point may have arrived for this category. P&G products are also listed on,, Mumzworld, Geant Online and “Our distribution partners are working to support a number of the region’s retailers who are launching their own e-commerce portals,” Diken said.

For the portal operator, it also presents an opportunity to drum up more traffic by offering a wider choice of categories. “There is also the question of appealing to a broader demographic user base, for instance Arab shoppers,” Tunbridge said. Incidentally, a full Arabised version of the portal is to go live in a fortnight, which would also be in sync with plans to extend reach into new territories.

Tunbridge left open the question of whether other consumer durable brands from other companies would be signing on. “The deal with P&G is such that it’s not exclusive to certain brands they own,” he added. “We should have a fuller complement of P&G’s brands before the end of the year.”