Middle East Retail Market Boosted by British Tech Innovation

Dubai – MENA Herald: British retailers are looking to GITEX Technology Week as the premier event to deliver digital commerce and in-store innovations across the Middle East and emerging markets.

Technology case studies from UK high street brands have become international success stories, combining bricks-and-mortar stores with online and mobile shopping to reach millions of new customers, especially across fast-growth retail hubs such as Dubai.

A master of fulfilling over 200,000 weekly online grocery orders, Ocado, the UK-based world’s largest online-only grocery store, is driving warehouse automation and the Ocado Smart Platform, an e-commerce, fulfilment, and logistics platform that can provide a shortcut for large bricks and mortar grocery retailers to move online.

“Ocado is a tech company, a retail company, and now also a platform company too. Technology, retail, and services are all things the UK economy does well, and when you can combine that experience and reputation, there is enormous value in the global marketplace,” said Paul Clarke, Chief Technology Officer, Ocado, who will be among the global retail keynote speakers at the GITEX Retail Vertical Days programme on retail innovation.

At the dedicated retail conference programme, attendees will be able to network and learn insights and real-world advice to help them succeed in the rapidly-digitising retail sector.

Globally, mobile commerce is set to reach USD 638 billion by 2019, and the UK is an early adopter of retail technology, according to a recent report by VISA. Digital technologies link online and offline shopping, with online playing a role in 28 per cent of in-store UK purchases, and GBP 170 billion in UK sales per year, according to a recent report by consultancy Deloitte.

British retailers, such as Ocado and Love Home Swap, the world’s largest home-swapping club, are driving retail and mobile commerce innovation, with experts agreeing on strong potential in emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa, and South and Central Asia.

UK startups are also playing a leading role in the global sharing economy. Governments, businesses, and the general public share their existing assets and skills – housing, office space, and vehicles – to make money, and increase competition, choice, and freedom.

Among the five fastest-growing sharing economy sectors, UK revenue will grow from GBP 500 million in 2014 to GBP 9 billion per year by 2025, and global revenues will top GBP 230 billion by 2025, according to a recent UK government report by Debbie Wosskow, CEO and Founder of Love Home Swap, which allows members to swap 95,000 properties in 190 countries.

“The UK is rapidly becoming a global centre for the sharing economy, with public-private partnerships developing worker and safety standards. By weaving in the sharing economy throughout cities, we can transform how the world lives and works,” said Debbie Wosskow, who will share her insights to hundreds of global startups at the GITEX Startup Movement.

UAE Presents Strong Market Opportunities

British retailers are finding success in Dubai and the UAE. The UAE is one of the world’s top 10 developing retail markets, with the Middle East’s highest retail sales per capita, according to a recent report by consultancy AT Kearney.

Retail is a major factor in supporting bi-lateral trade ties, which the UAE-UK Business Council hope will double from GBP 12 billion in 2013 to GBP 25 billion by 2020.

“The UK and GCC have a strong trade ties, with British retailers supporting the region’s diversified economy. GITEX Technology Week is a major event for British companies to engage with emerging markets and exchange best practices in innovation,” said Samir Brikho, UK Co-Chair of the UAE-UK Business Council.

Visitors will be able to experience the latest retail startup innovations, including Awfar Market, including Egypt’s first online supermarket; Justprice, Pakistan’s crowd-sourced e-commerce app; and Wincode, Taiwan’s specialised barcode label printer. The UAE will be well-represented with InBrunch, an app for optimising brunch planning; Pushdot, an app that drives customer loyalty to brands; and Whizztips, an app that connects skills to needs.

Startups can also pitch for a USD 160,000 prize, have their business plans validated by investors, and network with experts.

Additional speakers include Michael Franklin, Founder of retail technology company Oak Labs and former Head of Retail Innovation at eBay; Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO and Co-Founder of Souq.com; Nisreen Shocair, President of Virgin Megastore MENA; Nadia Shouraboura, Founder and CEO of retail technology company Hointer and the former Vice President of Technology at Amazon.

“In the Digital Economy, retailers from Britain and around the world are looking for innovative new ways to connect with customers. GITEX Technology Week will provide the platform for retailers to exchange knowledge on using technology to drive e-commerce, enhance the customer experience, and expand into emerging markets,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice-President for Exhibitions and Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre.