87% of GCC shoppers use online and offline channels for shopping - GulfToday

87% of GCC shoppers use online and offline channels for shopping


A view of visitors and exhibitors at the Gulfood 2024 in Dubai.

Inayat-ur-Rahman, Business Editor

The impact of high internet penetration and smartphone usage in GCC is beginning to show in more ways than one. Notably, the consumer awareness of various brands, their value propositions, and price points has increased significantly, leading to changes in shopping behaviours.

A recent study by Oliver Wyman revealed that GCC consumers’ expectations for personalized experiences are now 30% higher than those of their global counterparts. Accordingly, GCC customers are gravitating toward brands that understand their requirements and facilitate one-on-one communications.

However, as it turns out, customers’ need for personalized experiences is not limited to e-commerce and online channels. The same study highlighted it, revealing that 87% of GCC customers are using both online and offline channels to shop. So, forward-thinking retailers in the region are increasingly embracing cutting-edge technologies to drive personalization across both online and physical stores.

In the UAE’s fashion retail market, the number of users is expected to grow to 6.2 million by 2028. Considering the majority of new entrants will be the new generation of hyper-aware, tech-savvy shoppers or “digital natives”, the need for omnichannel personalization will only grow. Fashion brands that adopt AI and automation and build a robust technological foundation have an early-mover advantage to woo such shoppers.

The recent partnership between BTC Fashion and marketing automation trailblazer WebEngage was forged with the same objective.

BTC Fashion, the retail arm of the Business Trading Company (BTC), is known for bringing world-renowned brands Matalan, Miniso, Superdry and Balabala to GCC and Levant regions. The retail group’s robust omnichannel retail presence, including outlets across the region and the successful e-commerce arm bfab, presented an ideal opportunity to deploy AI and automation and deliver personalized and exceptional experiences to its vast customer base.

“As one of the largest investment firms in GCC, we represent some of the most inspirational global brands. Our aim is to provide unique and consistent experiences to each shopper whenever and wherever they engage with any of our brands. Partnering with WebEngage, we will be able to understand our customers better and fulfil their needs in a more personalized manner. WebEngage’s proven experience in transforming retention marketing for leading fashion and retail brands in the region is an added advantage,” said Hasit Kakkad, General Manager, BTC Fashion.

While personalization and one-on-one customer engagement across online and offline channels are highly desirable today, they can be hard to accomplish using traditional business models and legacy technologies. Manually segmenting customers based on common interests and expectations and personalizing brand communications for each segment at the right time on the right channel can be nearly impossible for retailers with a vast user base. AI, automation, and customer data platform (CDP)-powered platforms like WebEngage have an actionable solution to that problem.

Take WebEngage’s partnership with BTC Fashion, for instance: BTC Fashion will integrate its back office, loyalty platform, data lake, and e-commerce channel with WebEngage’s Retention Operating System. That will help build unified customer profiles. The resulting “customer 360”, powered by deterministic AI, will help BTC Fashion’s marketing teams and product managers of all brands to optimize customer journeys across SMS, mobile, web, digital, paid media, WhatsApp, email, and offline. Based on shopper behaviours, purchases, psychography, and real-time intent, BTC Fashion will deliver personalized omnichannel experiences.

“We are so honoured to associate with a family group of BTC’s calibre. Since its inception, the group has played an integral role in the region’s socioeconomic transformation. We will deploy our latest innovations in generative AI, seamlessly integrate with all their systems, and empower their marketing teams to build one-on-one customer engagement. Our regional business managed services team will ensure we maximize the value of their customer data, boost marketing impressions, and improve CLTV,” said Hetarth Patel, Vice President - Middle East & Africa and Managing Director - UAE.

In essence, the vast data retailers have at their disposal is being used as a foundation for personalization. Using advanced AI analytics, data is turned into insights about customer behaviours and triggers. This valuable information helps marketing teams orchestrate personalized campaigns and engage with customers on a deeper level, irrespective of which channel they are in. Such a one-on-one engagement helps brands deliver exceptional experiences, retain users more, and enhance customer lifetime value (CLTV), as WebEngage’s Hatarth Patel noted.

Ranked #1 consistently across all review platforms on ease of use and comprehensiveness of the platform, WebEngage is used by 800+ brands across India, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and South East Asia markets. WebEngage is on a unique mission to ensure that no business should ever have to work hard to retain its customers. WebEngage helps them scale through a robust customer data and analytics platform – unifying data across silos, the best-in-class journey builder enabling automated triggers and campaign orchestration across channels. The third piece of the stack is the personalization engine that includes all the data in the system and AI/ML-driven product recommendations that boost the conversion for all channels including the web and mobile apps.



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