Could Noon launch be ecommerce game changer?
By: Azur Digital
GCC new kid on the ecommerce block, Noon.com, has been singled out as a portal that holds the key to unlocking and accelerating the regional online shopping industry’s growth potential, according to a review of the newly launched marketplace by Azur Digital.
Azur Digital, a prominent management consulting firm specializing in omnichannel commerce in the Middle East, provides a review gives a glimpse of the platform’s overall impact on the ecommerce industry and what that means for the regional retailers.
Regional ecommerce shift
For the Dubai-based omnichannel consultancy, Noon is coming at a time when ecommerce in the region is experiencing a shift characterized by stiffer rivalry among key players.
2017 has seen an intensification of the competition on the digital commerce front with Amazon completing their acquisition of Souq.com in July. Souq’s customers can already use Amazon credentials to gain access to the marketplace and some of Amazon’s products are now listed on Souq.com, expanding the platform’s assortment.
Meanwhile, several retailers, such as Landmark and Carrefour Majid Al Futtaim, updated their multichannel proposition as ecommerce is increasingly becoming an important marketing channel for retailers, as well as a Public Relation tool to showcase innovation and relevance in the digital age.
According to Azur Digital, the proliferation of ecommerce sites in the region is taking place in the context of an upsurge in online spending in the last few years. With an increasing number of GCC shoppers purchasing online, both from domestic and overseas players, retailers ought to rapidly realign their digital operations in conformity with the evolving consumer expectations.
“The Middle East and especially the UAE ecommerce market is rapidly evolving. Shopping is increasingly moving online, whether to search for products, check their availability or purchase for home delivery or pickup in store. With pricing now taking a back seat, the UAE consumer is now first looking at convenience as the key factor.” said Stephane Paraiso, managing director, Azur Digital.
Impressive assortment and clean execution
The review concluded that the size of Noon’s product catalogue comprised of close to 200,000 displayed products, with categories ranging from Electronics through to Fashion, Grocery and much more. The marketplace secured key brands and some of its suppliers are renowned local retailers.
Noon’s overall user experience largely met the regional market customer experience threshold. The assessment, which is available on the Azur Digital website, had the shopping portal scoring major points in the initial stages after its successful launch. Some of these included excellent Arabic User Interface, fast checkout and outstanding branding execution from navigation to delivery.
Noon’s customer experience overall showed great attention to details and efforts to please customers in ways only successful department stores typically do.
The review however highlighted some shortcomings in areas such as product stock availability, search engine visibility and customer information handling.
“Noon is already showing strong signs that they will play an important role in the regional ecommerce landscape, and may well be on their way to becoming for ecommerce what Dubai Mall is for retail. This is good news for both the region’s customers as well as for the industry as a whole. It’s also a new challenge for brick and mortar business owners.” added Stephane.
The retail industry is headed for a major showdown as prominent players, in cognizance of the changing behavior of the highly connected Middle East consumer, need to lay out new digital customer journeys on par with their store experience and brand promise.
With the giants Noon and Souq now on their way to further boost ecommerce growth, which is already at 35-45 percent year-on-year, retailers have no choice but to rapidly up their omnichannel capabilities, develop eMarketing acumen and master customer knowledge.
“The UAE is underway to become the Middle East digital commerce champion and key players in the retail sector need to realign their systems, processes, and organizations in unison in order to remain relevant and competitive.” notes Stephane.
In its fifth year since inception, the omnichannel experts are now urging retailers in the Middle East to profoundly revisit their retail formula to offer gratifying and seamless customer experiences blending physical and digital touch points.