With the advent of online shopping portals around the world, there has been a shift from traditional brick-and-mortar stores globally. This new trend has spread to almost every corner of the world.
Conventional stores still remain one of the most successful retail forms in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. What could possibly be the reason behind this peculiar fact? Why is Dubai not riding the e-commerce wave yet? What is the reason behind this success of physical stores in this city?
As per an article on consumer behaviour in Dubai by the Gulf News, almost 50% of all online product or service searches end up with the user visiting a physical store within the next 24 hours. There seems to be a big opportunity to exploit here.
But the question that arises is how does one capitalize on this and go about setting up a presence for their product inside a physical store in Dubai? So, by now if you are already thinking of setting up a business or starting shop or placing your product inside stores in Dubai, here is a comprehensive list of 10 must-do things to successfully enter the market:
- Ensure your products comply with the law of the land:
To operate anywhere, you first need to set up the required financial and legal documents. Follow the rules and regulations for your industry for both internal and external compliance measures. In a market such as Dubai, your product must have the following four certificates/clearances – (i) a CE Certificate, (ii) a Declaration of Conformity, (iii) ROHS compliance and (iv) a TRA certificate from United Arab Emirates authority. Your product/service won’t reach store shelves until you have these certificates/clearances. Details of these clearances/certificates are listed at the end of this article for your reference. *
- Know your audience:
Dubai is home to citizens and immigrants who hail from over 120 nationalities. While that ensures a wide customer base, it also means that there is a wider range of tastes and preferences to heed to. You must first do extensive research about the city, its culture and consumers to gauge its potential for your product or services. It’s imperative that you understand the cultural differences that could benefit or adversely affect your business’s viability.
- Custom Clearance:
Before your product reaches the display rack of any store in Dubai, it must go through the customs department in the UAE for import clearance. A good way to go about ensuring your products clear customs would be to get in touch with local courier companies who can help you meet packing, shipping and customs requirements at minimal effort and costs. Adhering to these checks and measures will ensure that your products can enter the awaiting market without any delays.
- Don’t just create content, make it relevant:
Good content does not just help with building your business as a distinguished brand but also assists in growing your brand reputation, thus setting you apart from your competitors. Give your customers stories they can relate to. This leads to conversions that will, in turn, make your business profitable.
- Customize your storefront:
People are more inclined to buy things that catch their eyes and are visually appealing. The right kind of display for your brand can add volumes to the sales. Product/service ads, catalogs or digital media such as videos displayed within the store should include English text/subtitles so that more people can relate to them.
- Experiment and explore:
It’s a new market for you before you settle in you should explore your options to understand what your customers do and do not want. Test the price points you couldn’t touch in your home country; launch colours, schemes and themes you always wanted to; experiment, try and explore the new market.
- Get feedback:
The flipside of the cosmopolitan nature of Dubai mentioned in point 1 is that your brand will receive feedback from customers belonging to different geographies and demographics. This may be used to benefit your expansion strategy to other global markets in the future or simply to help improve your in-store offerings and messaging.
- Strengthen your PR game:
A brand is only so strong as its buzz and reputation in the world. No matter how great your business is, spreading a good word about is mandatory to keep it growing. If you don’t tell your product story, then who will? Get your PR sorted so your story reaches not just your current but also your potential consumer markets.
- Customer engagement is key to selling:
In this age of extreme competition, you need to constantly stay in touch with your customers. Create contests, hold events, host sales to increase customer engagement. You could also sponsor smaller events or engage in some CSR work to bring some goodwill to your brand name and increase brand recall with it.
- Keep your shelves full:
Monitor your inventory and employ data analytics to see which products are working more for this market so you can plan your shipments accordingly. No customer should walk out of a store empty-handed.
According to a Rutgers study customers spend 6 times the amount of time in a physical store as compared to an online store; this means a customer is more likely to buy products he/she didn’t come looking for! This also highlights the need for customers to try or touch merchandise before making a purchase.
As for most buyers, a purchase is not just an acquisition of a good but an experience which invokes their senses, gives them joy and builds their trust in a brand. Ultimately, these guiding principles will help ensure your brand provides an engaging in-store experience and has a successful launch in the Dubai market!
* Here is a brief description of the above-mentioned certificates/clearances for your perusal –
- A CE marking is a certification mark that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA). The CE marking is also found on products sold outside the EEA that are manufactured in, or designed to be sold in, the EEA.
- The FCC Declaration of Conformity or the FCC label or the FCC mark is a certification mark employed on electronic products manufactured or sold in the United States which certifies that the electromagnetic interference from the device is under limits approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
- The Declaration of Conformity is a special document, which the manufacturer signs to say that the product meets all of the requirements of the applicable directives. It must be issued by the manufacturer, or by the person placing the product on the EU market if the manufacturer is not based in Europe.
- RoHS stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances. RoHS, also known as Directive 2002/95/EC, originated in the European Union and restricts the use of specific hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products. All applicable products in the EU market after July 1, 2006, must pass RoHS compliance.
- TRA certificate stands for Telecom Regulatory Authority certificate and is issued after CE, DOC and RoHS documents are submitted. Usually, it is issued within 7 days.
- ESMA stands for Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology and applies to all products which need a continuous electrical supply for performance. Usually, it is issued within 3 – 4 months after testing. The products should also adhere to the 3 PIN regulation.