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Hop Onto The E-Commerce Train, Its Not Too Late!

Hop Onto The E-Commerce Train, Its Not Too Late!

Hop Onto The E-Commerce Train, Its Not Too Late!

This year has been a great year for e-commerce. It has been a year of acquisitions and launches. One of the biggest thing that happened in e-commerce this year is the launch of by Emaar Properties chairman Mohammed Alabbar on the October 1.

What is Noon is the Middle East’s homegrown competitor against e-commerce giant Amazon. Noon also took over, who is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in the region beginning of 2017.

In light of this prolific growth, Communicate has spoken with agencies who are working with current e-commerce players to figure out their role in this new wold order.

Then and Now

The media director of Starcom, Anna Woloszczenko said “e-commerce in MENA owes its growth to four flagship regional markets, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt for varying reasons across markets, ranging from sheer population size and potential, to broadband infrastructure, to record digital penetration levels.”

According to a study that has been done by the Global WenIndex (GWI), the region is still very much behind compared to the global benchmarks. Studies has also shown that, 75% of people purchased at least a product online in the previous month globally. While this number was only 56% in KSA and 66% in the UAE.

What’s Trending

The strategic planner director of MEC, Marie Abiad, said that while she was working on a travel brief, “we noticed that, surprisingly, in the region, people don’t spend as much time to book flights and hotels as they do in other parts of the world.”

I normally takes consumers around 30 to 40 days from searching before making a booking. On the other hand in the region, it takes  to 20 days.

But according to Stanislas Brunais who is the senior director at OMD says that the lead time and conversion is longer. It can take up to 30 days sometimes. However, booking that are made in the GCC tend to be quicker and done in a maximum of three to four days.

Brunais also added, “consideration happens a lot on mobile and conversion is more skewed toward desktop, either because the mobile experience is bad or because people are more inclined to share their personal details on desktop.”

Because mobile devices play a huge role in many peoples lives today it is also part of the customer journey, especially when it comes to the consideration phase. It is extremely important that e-commerce players track their audiences across their devices.

Of course there is always the issue of trust. According to a report by PwC, 62% of the Middle East e-commerce consumers are worried about being hacked on their mobile devices and risk personal information being stolen.

What Sells?

When it comes to regional e-commerce companies, Souq and Noon are two of the biggest players and it is not fair to leave out the travel industry and service providers. If a timeline was created and put together, travel will be the first, followed by fashion, then transport, then local and international brands such as Sephora or Chalhoub, said Brunais.

Wise Money

According to local media reports, football has been reducing in the UAE this is because the Middle East (UAE and KSA) in particular are strongly driven by the mall culture. Hmmm.. so does this mean that it would make sense that retailers incest in an e-commerce platform?

This is an industry in which clients need a lot of education on, Rodriguez said. Businesses who have a good understanding of the importance of an online store and are ready to take the step might have another question in their mind: should we invest and build our own platform or be a part of a market place?

According to Brunais the answer is clear. He says that brands need to be present everywhere because users are where the data lies. “And the only way to do it is to have your own website but, if you rely only on marketplaces to sell your product, you will never get that data,” he says.

Shop Talk

Brands today should know how to position their selves whether it be through meta tags and descriptions or content based tab takeovers and offers. Pure advertising on just your e-commerce sites are however quite restricted to direct buys and traditional formats. Rodriguez thinks that this is due to the e-commerce sites wanting control of who gets to advertise on their site and also being able to charge them at a high price.

What Lies Ahead

Obviously there are great opportunities for both local and regional players to up their online game. A report by KMPG for 2017 shows that, an astounding 58% of online purchases in the UAE were imported. This just goes to show that the UAE customers are willing to shop online. They just prefer to shop from global e-commerce stores.

Also, e-commerce is receiving major help form a governmental level as well. The Arab Federation of e-commerce was created with a goal of helping the industry grow from $20 billion in 2017 to 200$ billion beyond 2020.




Voice Commerce: The Future Of E-Commerce

Voice Commerce: The Future Of E-Commerce

Voice Commerce: The Future Of E-Commerce

Voice commerce? Will it work? Many of us still remain skeptical over this futuristic idea of retail. There are limitations when it comes to anything voice activated, like Cortana and Siri have showed. But of course as we move forward with the years, so does technology. There has been improvements made to the voice activation technology that has hinted big changes are in the near future. Voice commerce will definitely effect customers interaction with retail.

The Rise Of Voice Commerce

Voice Commerce: The Future Of E-Commerce Dish Television Provider Alexa

At the Consumer Electronics Show this year, there were quite a number of Alexa-powered devices which definitely shows how people are adapting to voice commerce. Guess what? All guest who attended the event were also gifted a LG smart refrigerator that allows you to order food items using Alexa. Even big car companies such as Ford and Volkswagen have jumped on to the voice commerce wagon and installed AI systems into their vehicles. This makes it much easier for drivers to drive and shop at the same time! How convenient and not to mention safe!  Satellite television provider , Dish has also integrated Alexa into their consoles.  Allowing users to use their voice to pick a movie category, change the channel, look for the latest movies and of course to shop as well!

Amazon has also come out with the Alexa Voice Service which is an API. On top of that, being the e-commerce leaders that they are, they have also introduced the Alexa Skills Set. It allows APIs and tools to easier develop voice-driven abilities for the AI. With the amount of attention Amazon is giving to Alexa clearly shows that the e-commerce giant is betting on voice commerce to blow up in the e-commerce world in the years to come.

What Voice Commerce Can Mean To Retailers

Voice Commerce: The Future Of E-Commerce Starbucks Voice Control, Virtual Assistant

Voice commerce will be a benefit to both users and retailers. Technology will definitely streamline and improve customer experience. With technology nowadays, people can check the availability of a product or order/pay for their coffee from Starbucks with just a click on their smart devices. With voice commerce up and coming, soon there will be no need for clicks.

Voice commerce can also improve on a more personalize shopping experience, as businesses can collect and use data more efficiently with customer interaction. This possibility was proven through using the Adobe prototype. With Alexa integrated into the application, it could quickly recognize the user and ask particular questions about their stay and preferences so Alexa could then give them customized information, promotions and recommendations.

In addition, not only will this help customers receive a more personalized experience but it will also help business collect specific data on its customers. Companies can then use this data to come up with clever and effective product and marketing strategies.

The Future Of E-Commerce

Voice Commerce: The Future Of E-Commerce Cortana (Microsoft) and Alexa (Amazon)

Today, voice-activated virtual assistants are present in most of the devices and while their functions often overlap, they have their own isolated and defined ecosystems. However, the collaboration of Cortana (Microsoft) and Alexa (Amazon) will be something to be excited about. With the collaboration of these two giants, there will definitely be a huge impact on the future of e-commerce.

The collaboration between Microsoft and Amazon will allow Cortana and Alexa to talk to one another! This will be giving Windows 10 users the capacity to access Alexa’s skills by giving voice commands to Cortana. While on the other hand, Alexa will be able to assist Amazon Echo users to keep them on top of appointments and reminders that Cortana has gathered.

This collaboration will also allow the two AIs to combine their specific capabilities to further enhance voice-control purchases. Both AIs have attributes that can complement one another to make this one of the best collaborations in the voice commerce sector. Cortana is great at finding and securing user information while Alexa has defined skills that can be used in specific cases. The conclusion is that, Cortana can be used to look for a specific product online while Alexa will be able to organize the ordering.

Voice commerce technology is gaining ground and can open great opportunities to both user and businesses. With the collaboration of the two different virtual assistants voice-controlled commerce isn’t far off.


Asos Adds A Search-By-Photo Function To Its App

Asos Adds A Search-By-Photo Function To Its App

Asos Adds A Search-By-Photo Function To Its App


The tech world never fails to amaze and surprise! Asos has recently launched its search-by-photo function on its latest iOS app update. The update will allow the iOS users to take a photo of a fashion piece or accessory with their camera and upload in an existing outfit picture or screenshot from Instagram from their device’s camera roll. The Asos app will then show them items that are similar to whatever they are trying to find.

Asos has also reported that this feature will be available on their Android app soon! So to all the Android users, have no fear, just patients.

The company has said that 80% of UK traffic for ASOS comes from mobile devices, so does almost 70% of UK orders. It is also reported that each user spends at least 80 minutes per month on average in the app.

Asos has tested the feature on a few fashion pieces the company carries and has reported that it works well. The company has also said that the function will not necessarily find a perfect match. As there are only 85,000 searchable products in Asos’ index. However, the function will at least pull up a product similar sorts of patterns to the picture the customer has uploaded. So the customer will end up with the same fashion feel.

With this new addition to the app, Asos aims to drive sales of its stock by greasing the clothes discovery pipeline (searching using text can sometimes be quite tedious). It is also to encourage a bit of serendipity in the shopping experience. Asos has been around since 2000 and has been a long time player in the ecommerce space.

Over the past 5 years or so, there have been quite a number of startups who have tried to build fast and convenient visual search engines. They often target the fashion industry.

There are many tech platforms who have also recently started showing more interest to visual search too. They see a potential to combine the vast quantity of visual data they hold with recent developments in deep learning/AI technology that is helping realize the potential of computer version.

Pinterest has recently launched a camera-based feature that can turn a real world object (e.g a mug) into Pinterest results (e.g a cup of coffee). Another example is eBay, the ecommerce platform also has its own ecommerce- focused image search in the works due to launch this fall. Isn’t that cool? At this rate we won’t be needing keyboards anymore soon.


Article originally by TechCrunch on the 10th August 2017. Written by Natasha Lomas.