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With U.S. based e-commerce giant Amazon celebrating its 23rd birthday this year, there is no denying that online shopping has revolutionized the retail industry over the past 2 decades. The e-commerce market in the region is nascent compared to the West. However, with 65% of the Middle Eastern population under the age of 30, businesses need to meet millennials where they shop. In the region with the highest smartphone penetration in the world, retailers in the Middle East must go digital to win in the long-term. As more online retailers enter the market, it is crucial keep in mind the factors that will help an e-commerce platform succeed:
Focus on UI/UX
The key difference between a graphic designer and a UI/UX designer is that a graphic designer focuses on elements like colors, shapes, fonts and overall visual aesthetics, whereas a UI/UX designer focuses on how users interact with design and the information architecture, keeping human psychology in mind. Regardless of how aesthetically pleasing a website is, its functionality affects its success. The journey from landing page to completing the purchase needs to be frictionless. UI/UX designers often use A/B testing to ensure the latter. There should also be multiple options to filter, sort and search through products. Call-to-action buttons should be clear. Investing in a good UI/UX designer is crucial. The website must also be mobile-friendly as over 50% of online purchases carried out globally are done using a mobile device.
Make Repeat Purchases Easier
To encourage repeat purchases, make it easier for customers to order from your website. Allow customers to set up accounts, store all their details and remember their preferences. UAE-based office supplies retailer, Office Rock, keeps a record of products that customers order routinely and sends them an email reminder when it’s time to reorder. If they wish to proceed, they can place their order at the click of a button.
Be Locally Relevant
To make sure you’re selling the right things to your target audience effectively, it is crucial to understand the region in which you operate. For instance, if you are selling women’s clothing in Middle East, focus on modest fashion. Allow consumers to sort clothing by sleeve length, make sure the photographs used on your website are modest and display cultural sensitivity wherever possible. Newly opened e-commerce platform, TheModist.com stays locally relevant by selling designer fashion particularly targeted to modest consumers.
Connect Online With Offline
A lot of customers like to “pre-shop” on a digital platform but prefer to purchase in-store. A brick-and-mortar retailer going digital should therefore try to create synergy between different touch points. This can be done by providing all necessary product information online. Retailers like Zara do a great job at connecting online with offline by allowing buyers to check in-store availability of products online, allowing online shoppers to pick up products at their nearest stores and permitting returns for online purchases in physical stores.
Take advantage of Artificial Intelligence
AI analyzes large data sets more efficiently than a human being. This allows it to identify clusters and patterns in the information. Paradoxically, it leads to a more personalized shopping experience. Technology can predict what customers are likely to purchase and correct misspelt words in the search bar. AI chatbots can also answer customer’s questions and virtual personal shoppers can help customers find items they may like. Machine learning and cognitive computing is therefore likely to drive conversions. UK-based fashion retailer ASOS uses AI to predict what clothing size customers should order using purchase history other customers’ orders, sizing information and reviews. Although ASOS relies on their in-house accelerator for technological innovations, off-the-shelf AI software can be of great use to retailers going digital.
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