e-commerce Business .

UAE Retailers Lean On Online Business in Light of the COVID-19 Outbreak


Retailers across the UAE have sharpened their focus on their digital policies, as residents avoid malls to shield themselves against the CoronaVirus and instead are doing the majority of their shopping online.The people of the UAE are faithfully adhering to the guidelines set out by the Government. Social distancing and self-isolation are all being strictly implemented in the business sector. These safety measures have significantly impacted the residents’ purchasing habits, as most of them are now heavily relying on online shopping.

Jessica Ashford deputy CEO, PRO Partner Group, noted this change in people’s buying behavior and said that:

” Since the announcement of CoronaVirus’ Outbreak in the UAE, there has been a steep decline in the number of people roaming about in shopping malls and other such crowded areas. Many of the public events and exhibitions have been canceled. And those that are not canceled are receiving a poor turn-out. The situation will only worsen if the COVID-19 persists. Consumers are shifting their buying habits, and online shopping is expected to become more popular in the next few months.”

Luca Bozzano, GM for WatchBox Middle East, which has temporarily stopped its business operations as part of the preventive measures against the CoronaVirus. He Says that their boutique has observed a rise in its website traffic, and more customers are interacting with their digital marketing campaigns.

He further added,

” With lots of leisure time in their hands, people are clearly spending it browsing the internet and are indulging in making purchases. The difference this time is that they are doing the majority of their shopping online.”

According to him, “WatchBox Middle East is still able to deliver their services to their precious clients by using the various social media platforms, especially WhatsApp calls. Our experts continue to dispense their knowledge in advising their clients to purchase the best pieces. Undoubtedly these are extraordinary circumstances in which we are operating, and we strive to proceed to do all that we can to guarantee that WatchBox Middle East offers exceptional services for its customers.”

Karim Benkirane, managing director at Virgin Mobile UAE, applauded the Government of the UAE for their quick thinking in the face of the global pandemic that is the novel CoronaVirus, including the closure of all entertainment places and schools.

Regarding the impact, the COVID-19 had on their business activities, Karim said that:

” Although this has been a challenging time for everyone but Virgin Mobile has always been a truly digital brand, and therefore we always gave our customers the option to purchase a SIM online. We deliver the SIM on your doorstep within 1 hour of the order being placed on our website. Our couriers not only deliver the package but also help the customers with the activation process so that they can start using the SIM immediately. Moreover, our customers can connect with our customer care service 24/7 through our social media pages other than that they can also connect with us via our innovative Virgin Mobile Apps’ in-app chat feature.”

He revealed that the purchase of their products through home delivery had increased two-fold since the residents have started practicing social distancing.

” On March 23, our home delivery team recorded a considerable spike in our daily average, 74 percent more people opted to get their SIM delivered at their doorstep instead of getting it themselves. As during these turbulent times, a mobile phone is more than a style statement; it is your connection with the outer world.”

He added: ” We are working day and night to enable our customers to maintain their connection with the things they love the most. We have increased our home delivery hours from 7 AM to 11 PM, with deliveries made till midnight. Besides that, we have doubled data on all our plans.”

To cater to this rising trend of online shopping, several retailers in the UAE are coming up with strategies that will accommodate the customer’s needs efficiently.

Majid Al Futtaim has started a unique plan that will cover the deficits of the sudden demand of the employees in the food packing, stock replenishment, and grocery department. They have initiated an employee redeployment program across the country. Employees working in its leisure and entertainment divisions will be trained to assist their counterparts and join them in the company’s Carrefour – the grocery store cum hypermarket– and fulfill the onslaught of online orders.

In the first three weeks of March alone, Carrefour has seen an escalation in consumer demand across the country, with daily online sales rising by a whopping 50 percent compared to the equivalent period in February 2020. The employees have been assigned various positions across the Carrefour, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, warehouses, grocery stores, and distribution centers.

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