Online: GIES Virtual Series discusses new age of digital retail

DUBAI, 21st October, 2020 (WAM)

The fifth session of the Global Islamic Economy Summit, GIES, virtual series has discussed new age of digital retail.

Organised by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, DIEDC, in collaboration with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Chamber, and in strategic partnership with Refinitiv, the webinar structured in the format of a workshop, examined the new age of digital retail and drew the participation of key industry stakeholders.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, said, “The eCommerce and digital retail sector have witnessed tremendous shifts and formidable growth, especially in light of the pandemic. Even customers who prefer traditional shopping, have had no alternative but to shop online. Now, following their experience, it will be interesting to see if they pivot to shopping online more often. Although the pandemic in itself is not positive, this result could be considered a positive outcome.”

Moderated by Peter Gould, Chief Design Officer at Gould Studio, the workshop was headlined by Sarah Ansari, CEO of Artizara, Muhammed Mekki, Founding Partner at AstroLabs, and Layal Akouri, Regional Director for MENA, USA, and Europe at Modanisa.

Sarah Ansari said, “We are going through a very exciting new age where the world is shifting all around us at warp speed, and at the heart of this new age is the idea that everything, including us as humans, can be digitised – my physical attributes, my likes and dislikes, my thoughts and feelings, are all bits of data. What does all this mean? Who are we? Where are we headed? Why do we do what we do? The pandemic has given us time to reflect on the ‘why’ of things, and if we can figure out the why, then the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ will fall into place. That is true for us in our individual and professional lives.”

“We need a bigger purpose in life, what is our bigger mission? How does that align with our customers? If you can answer these questions, you will be poised to not just survive, but thrive, in the new digital age,” Sara Ansari added.

Muhammed Mekki advised entrepreneurs to avoid two fundamental mistakes – spending too long perfecting the platform and brand before launching, and not speaking to customers early on. He said, “One might have an idea in mind and they immediately get to translating that vision via tech – trying to create a perfect version of their dream concept. Then, after much delay and extensive investment, they take it to market. More important than the tech platform and specific filtration features is thinking about what the end-user experience is, given what you are trying to achieve.”

Layal Akouri perceived a noticeable change in shopping preferences and behaviours – with most people now shopping for essentials rather than luxuries. “Unfortunately, many people lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, but they still need to buy essentials. This was an important insight for eCommerce businesses.”

A poll conducted during the webinar to determine the views of the attendees on which area of digital retail they expect to see the most growth found that 35 percent of the audience believed that independent brand websites and eCommerce platforms will be the biggest winners, while 25 percent expected to see major global platforms, such as Amazon, experience the most growth. Furthermore, 20 percent saw digital retail growth in direct social media sales, such as via Instagram and Facebook, and 13 percent expected to see new innovative forms of online purchasing.

WAM/ /Tariq alfaham/MOHD AAMIR