Customers in the UAE are evolving. Are retailers keeping up the pace?
Shopping in the UAE is triggered by the various festivals that line up in a regular calendar year. There is Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises and then there is GITEX Shopper. Customers wait for GITEX Shopper to empty their wallets buying Electronics & Information Technology products. Or is that so?
The Evolution of a typical UAE customer
The UAE’s commerce revolution is well underway, and backed by the country’s diverse and truly global population and high mobile penetration rate.
In a country famous for having “what’s your last price” type of consumers, we are seeing a gradual evolution. There may still be customers who long to get the deals during festivals, but with shopping no longer being concentrated on few months, many customers are resorting to impulse or anytime purchases. There is also awareness of the fact that retailers do a duplication of offers at retail stores and exhibitions. Then there is a slow, but steady penetration of online shopping. Convenience of shopping and a wholesome experience is crucial for today’s consumers.
The organizers of GITEX Shopper do claim that “67% of visitors prefer to shop at GITEX Shopper than online” and “40% delayed their purchases until GITEX Shopper”.
But it would be interesting to have a wider country-wide sample data to really understand the complex minds of today’s shoppers. All of this throws a critical challenge to retailers. How do they capitalize on a great shopping event such as GITEX Shopper and yet continue to target those evasive shoppers who prefer to buy their merchandise from various different avenues?
Power to the People
During the period of GITEX Shopper, the Dubai World Trade Center venue gets transformed into a large playground for retailers who have to strut their stuff and capture the attention of the customers. There are glamorous promoters handing out the booklets, there are spot offers, price drops, radio roadshows, raffles, auctions, there is even a cooking or dancing competition.
Retailer stands are present in very close proximity to each other. Though the product is the same, customers have that choice of retailers. Unlike in a shopping mall, there cannot be a distinction between retailers on the wholesome customer experience of shopping. GITEX Shopper suddenly offers a level playing field for all retailers alike. It is a shopper’s paradise and power is with the people.
Targeting & Re-targeting
While planning for the event, retailers grapple with an identity crisis. Should they focus all their marketing efforts towards driving traffic at their Shopper Stands? Or should they also cater to that class of customers who will not visit the Shopper, yet want to buy from retail stores or online and yet expect the same deals?
The answer perhaps lies in an omni-channel approach. Let’s face the facts. Typical sale at GITEX Shopper touches around Dh279 million and visitors around 218,722. That leaves more than 8.5 million residents (excluding tourists/visitors) who are out there and looking to buy from other channels.
“Total sales during Gitex Shopper contribute around one month’s worth of sales for power retailers“Retailers in UAE
There is no point in cannibalizing retail sale or online sale with Shopper sale; on the contrary all three avenues must complement each other.
A Retailer’s Market
Retailers in the region still have a dominating control over business, unlike other parts of the world. In Singapore for example, it is the Brands that control such events. Singapore has four such events spread over the year : IT Show (February or March), PC Show (June), COMEX (August or September) and SITEX (November). A typical floor plan at any of the event shows only Brands taking real-estate space and then leasing it out to the retailers to manage the sales. Some brands even allocate different retailers to operate their stands on different days. The selection of the retailers is based on the overall sales potential and also the annual agreed targets.
So the UAE model of a predominantly retailer driven GITEX Shopper is unique.
As GITEX Shopper approaches, there is an adrenaline rush experienced by the people working with consumer electronics retailers. There is an anticipation of higher sales and drastic increase in the top line revenues (Total sales during Gitex Shopper contribute around one month’s worth of sales for power retailers). But only those retailers who keep their eye on the different touchpoints of today’s complex customer will be able to enjoy the positive benefits of that adrenaline rush.