5 things retailers should know before investing in technology


Recently, multiple technology platforms have forayed into the UAE market, looking to provide digital solutions and B2B payments. These companies have focused heavily on small and medium businesses, knowing that the SME industry has a long way to go in terms of digitisation. The success of e-commerce in the Mena region has also led to their growth.

Moreover, payment processing corporation Mastercard – one of the world’s largest – announced many partnerships with fintech firms as well as small time retailers in Mena in 2022, and the trend is continuing this year. For example, the company has partnered with Tradeling, which is the UAE’s homegrown company founded in 2019, which specialises in the e-commerce sector. Mastercard also forayed into Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan via its local e-commerce partnerships.

But how can retailers make the most of new technology?

Using technology to improve shopping experience

Speaking to TahawulTech.com, Sander Maertens, Head of Middle East at Adyen said yesterday that investing in technology can not only benefit the business itself but also enhance customer experience.

“We asked over 1000 shoppers in the UAE and 40,000 shoppers globally, to find out what their actual shopping needs are. The results of our Retail Report 2022 gave us the valuable answers we were seeking,” said Mr. Maertens.

According to this report, said, Mr. Maertens, 83 per cent of UAE shoppers are more likely to shop with retailers that use technology to improve their shopping experience, creating a huge opportunity for brands that get it right.

Using payment-linked loyalty programmes

“One of the solutions that would actually be appreciated by customers is “payments-linked loyalty”. According to our survey, 86 per cent of UAE shoppers expect retailers to use technology to make their loyalty programs easier and more effective, and 68 per cent are more likely to shop with a retailer if their loyalty program works automatically through their payment card. At Adyen, we help our retailers by linking their loyalty program to the shopper credit card.

“This will allow retailers to link their loyalty program across all their sales channels through one platform. Shoppers will no longer get frustrated when forgetting their loyalty cards as it’s now automatically linked to their payment card. On the other hand, it saves retailers from spending money and the hassle of building an app to track their loyalty points.” Mr. Maertens added.

Using technology in-store

Another notable finding from the Retail Report 2022 is that in-store shopping experiences are very important to UAE shoppers. 83 per cent said they are more likely to shop at stores that use technology to improve their shopping experience. The potential is limitless, from an endless aisle where customers can check additional stock for home delivery to offering new ways to pay via QR codes or mobile payment terminals.

According to the report, the same thing is happening in the UAE’s hospitality industry. 67 per cent of guests believe technology can improve their dining experience. But, which innovations should hotels prioritise?

“CitizenM Hotels is a good example of a company that uses technological innovations to improve the guest experience. They used our all-in-one payments platform to securely tokenise payment cards, allowing guests to move around the hotel with ease and convenience. Guests can pay for drinks and meals at the bar or restaurant using their room card without having to present their card, enter a code, or sign a bill,” said Mr. Maertens.

Using flexible payment and return options

Meanwhile, the report said that only 31 per cent of UAE retailers let consumers buy things online and return in store, but a massive 73 per cent of shoppers said they would be more loyal to such retailers.  This implies that there’s a significant expectation gap and huge opportunity here for UAE businesses to avail.

“Relying solely on physical stores with helpful staff and an exciting environment alone won’t cut it in the UAE. Businesses need to think about the bigger picture to stand out by offering an omni-channel experience,” the report added.

Using payments data for personalisation

Moreover, there is untapped potential in real time payments data. Globally, businesses use payments data to build a better picture of customers and to drive personalised marketing campaigns, among other reasons. According to Adyen’s data, 7 out of 10 UAE consumers prefer retailers to use their data to create a better personalised customer experience. That’s almost 50 per cent more than the global average.

But only 37 per cent of UAE businesses use payments data for this reason. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of UAE consumers like it when retailers serve them with personalised adverts. With this large demand unfulfilled, there is plenty of potential for fintech companies to tap into.

“In other words, think before you invest in new solutions. Don’t implement new tech innovations just for the sake of innovation. Find what your shoppers’ pain points are and only then invest in solutions that can actually benefit your shoppers” concluded Mr. Maertens.