It's time to drop the ‘e’ from e-commerce
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It’s time to drop the ‘e’ from e-commerce

It’s time to drop the ‘e’ from e-commerce

Ensure the right reaction from your target audience with these pointers


The Gulf Cooperation Council economies are bouncing back, stronger than ever. According to the World Bank estimate, regionwide gross domestic product (GDP) for 2022 will grow by 5.9 per cent on the previous year. The report suggests that robust “fiscal and external surpluses” could enhance consumer confidence. In the UAE, for example, Fitch Solutions forecasts a 4.2 per cent surge in real household spending in 2022, helped along by a swift Covid-19 response. B2C commerce has a very different playbook today – one which must accommodate for the unforeseen, navigate economic pressures and counter the threat of the emergence and rise of agile competitors. When e-commerce emerged, it was treated as a ‘nice to have’ service and definitely a cost-saver, but not a core part of the business. Flash forward to 2020, the dynamics of e-commerce changed.

Regional stakeholders are currently confronted with a new reality: there is no standalone e-commerce anymore. The experience economy has ripped the ‘e’ from e-commerce. There is now only commerce – the unified ecosystem of physical and digital customer experiences. In such a scenario, here are three main pillars to ensure you get the right reaction from your target audience.

Make commerce an experience
An Oracle study found that 94 per cent of UAE consumers were in search of new experiences that would make them ‘smile and laugh’, but only one in 10 businesses reported using humour in their sales interactions. The report even made a mention of consumers’ preference (88 per cent) for humour in digital assistants and bots while revealing that only 22 per cent of businesses try to infuse their bots with a playful manner. These findings are a strong indication that customer insights are key to business success. Findings such as these also speak to the necessity of personalisation, which along with responsiveness is a key driver of experience.

A dynamic store experience
Today, attracting and retaining customers is all about making commerce an experience, an outcome that’s underpinned by digital systems. The ideal of a modern store that delivers on the promise of a true omnichannel commerce experience is what we call the Dynamic Store – one that pre-empts customers’ expectations and constantly adapts to meet their needs. Rather than relying on chance, the dynamic store conjures up impactful, tailored experiences, helping customers navigate through the aisles, telling shoppers what they need, where to find it, and even how well it will pair with other purchases. Most retailers currently lack the underlying capabilities or resources to go all in immediately.

Customer lifetime value
If a business is to get to know its customers across all its touchpoints, it is likely going to need a customer data platform (CDP) to collect information reliably. To be competitive, companies must remember that the cost of attracting a new customer is many multiples higher than retaining one. It is critical to understand customers’ frequency, engagement, recency and monetary value.

Customer-centric commerce strategy
Commerce is served by technology, of course. But at its heart, it is about so much more than platforms and apps. It is about people. And the enterprises that learn to align people, processes and platforms, in sustainable ways, are the enterprises that will rise while others fall. Successful companies will be those that build a solid technology foundation, optimise processes through technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), and build direct relationships with their customers through digital and physical channels.

Kareem Monem is the regional managing director – MENA at Valtech

Read: UAE payments revenue expected to reach $18.7bn by 2031 – report

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