Retail versus e-tail – the next chapter
By Reem AlDaghfaq, eCommerce Product Manager, DHL Express Saudi Arabia
Reem AlDaghfaq is eCommerce Product Manager, DHL Express Saudi Arabia. She develops new business opportunities and strengthens customer relationships with advanced knowledge of innovative e-commerce solutions and value-added services. Reem enables cross-border cooperation, working with all stakeholders to enhance the service level of products and to add value. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Alimam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University, covering the management and leadership aspects of accounting, finance, project management, marketing and other fields.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a large number of consumers shift online. Take Saudi Arabia, where I head eCommerce for DHL Express. The kingdom is the second largest country in the Middle East in terms of size, and the largest across the region in terms of GDP. Saudis love to shop, traditionally in many of our large and often luxurious malls and, of course, while traveling. However, partly because of COVID-19, Saudi Arabia is now one of the largest emerging e-commerce markets within the Middle East. Our company is experiencing this first hand: Our own e-commerce business in Saudi Arabia has seen an unprecedented 500% growth.
Yet these are concerning times for any business, with many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) globally and in our region hit hard by stringent lockdowns. In this series of op-eds, my colleague Mike Parra, CEO DHL Express Americas, highlights how a global e-commerce strategy can help those smaller businesses affected by the fallout of the pandemic to survive and thrive.
The United Arab Emirates is another significant, fast-growing e-commerce market, as well as a hub for global e-commerce. Mohsen Ahmad, CEO of Dubai South Logistics District, shares his outlook on how the country is positioning itself to capitalize on what he sees as major emerging trends and opportunities.
Despite the arrival and growth of luxury e-tailers such as Net-a-Porter, MatchesFashion and Farfetch, most luxury brands have been slow to set up online, preferring to rely on personalized sales in their opulently designed showrooms and flagship stores. Is all that about to change? Marriam Mossalli, Saudi Arabia’s global fashion influencer and owner of luxury brand consultancy Niche Arabia, is an avid shopper herself and works with many leading brands, so her insights on this market segment are second to none.
There is one thing all of us agree on: Businesses of all sizes all need to have smart strategies for recovery when COVID-19 relinquishes its grip. I believe that one of the best ways to do this is via e-commerce, which can help companies do well in difficult times – and set them up for further success in a post-pandemic world.
Published: December 2020
Images: Adobe Stock; Mostafa ElGameil; DHL; private