Gulf retailers are ready for end-of-year promotions. Be it Singles Day sales on November 11, White/Yellow/Red Fridays, or Cyber Mondays, retail traffic is set to peak in November and December.
This year, the focus will be on resident shoppers and international football fans who are flying into the region, primarily Qatar and the UAE, to watch the FIFA World Cup 2022, kicking off in Qatar on November 20.
The first sales period ’11.11’, also known as Singles Day, will take place between November 10 and 12.
Retailers across industries are hoping to score big with fashion, tech gadgets, and accessories – as well as football merchandise.
A study conducted by Ipsos that Google released last month, highlighted key consumer shopping habits in the UAE and Saudi Arabia ahead of this year’s end-of-year shopping season. Online shoppers in Mena search for seasonal deals on Google more than branded or product queries, as seen in the US over the past year.
One unique theme of this holiday season is self-care, particularly during Single’s Day. Ipsos found that 70 per cent of surveyed shoppers purchase products for themselves on Singles’ Day. Moreover, 45 per cent of those surveyed were searching for gift inspiration during this sales season.
Neha Choudhary, vice president of onsite strategy and operations at e-commerce platform noon, said: “Our November selection decisions are primarily influenced by tourists visiting for the tournament,” reports Gulf News.
“Because the assortment is also available on our Minutes’ platform (noon’s quick-delivery service), World Cup fans and followers can order football essentials and have them delivered the next day – or within minutes.
“Many of these visitors (for the Doha matches) will stay in the UAE, giving us a fantastic opportunity to reach out to this new customer base. We have updated our platform so that tourists can now order from noon. All international phone numbers can place orders from the app.”
Retailers can expect one million-plus visitors during the month-long window due to the FIFA World Cup.
Going by retailer feedback, football merchandise is the leading sub-category right now, and is expected to gain more prominence within the next 10 days.
Individual retailers may also invent their own promotional offers.
E-commerce giant Amazon, for instance, is offering three days of savings on more than 30 categories, including electronics, home, kitchen, fashion, and beauty.
Amazon Prime members will have early access between November 1 and 8 to avail free international delivery from Amazon UK and US on eligible 11.11 deals via Amazon.ae.
Stefano Martinelli, GCC retail director at Amazon, said: “We love offering our customers as well as Prime members across the UAE added value throughout their experience with Amazon, and our end-of-year sale season is a perfect example of our promise to them. As we kick-off 11.11 this week, we hope shoppers take advantage of the incredible savings available through deals, banking partner discounts, and installment plan options, across a wide selection of local and international brands,” reports Zawya.
Retail industry sources are certain that given the best incentives such as cashback offers or zero-interest payment schemes, consumers will neither wait too long nor hold back.
Choudhary adds, “Some categories and brands may be showing a slight slowdown due to a shift in product type trends,” to Gulf News. “We were more concerned about COVID-19 last year, and certain product types performed well compared to this year. For instance, home gym equipment and home office furniture.”
Given the buzz of people going out and about this year, Choudhary told Gulf News that categories such as outdoor toys and camping are seeing significant increases in the lead up to the 11.11 sale period.
Electronics retailers in the UAE are also timing their offers on the latest smartphone and tablet models. Even if the latest Apple iPhone 14 won’t get much of a price cut, previous models certainly will. An unnamed retailer said: “With the UAE consumer, the focus is always on the latest and the best – but there are visitors who would willingly buy slightly older models at a discount and VAT-free,” reports Gulf News.
With resident shoppers, TVs are the other must-buy this season. One retailer expects newly settling residents in the UAE to purchase television sets as well as existing residents to upgrade their current television sets in time for the World Cup.
Heading into the busiest online shopping season of the year, retailers and service providers need to get a firm grip on delivery and logistics.
Soham Chokshi, CEO of logistics management platform Shipsy, said “Key challenges for logistics firms during peak shopping seasons, such as Black Friday, include scaling on-time deliveries, onboarding and managing multiple logistics partners to increase serviceability, improving capacity planning, and driving logistics operations cost-effectively and eco-friendly,” reports Gulf News.
“Advanced territory optimisation, routing capabilities, and dynamic order batching help logistics businesses improve resource utilisation, expand serviceability, and reduce logistics costs. Such a solution sends a notification to the customer, allowing them to track the consignment in real-time (and) lowers return to origin (RTO) instances by 18% by validating non-delivery reasons with customers.”
11.11 deals will soon be succeeded by Black Friday promotions on November 25.