Friday 21 February 2020

Rahul Duragkar

In retail, trust is everything

DUBAI, April 30, 2019

By Rahul Duragkar

In business as in love, trust is everything. With consumers anticipating online companies to provide quality products beyond advertised timeframes, there is a greater need for quality products and discounts, which are applicable all year round to foster good and long consumer relationships.

In a scenario where consumers are increasingly purchasing online, thanks to convenience, 24/7 storefronts and a wider product selection, trust assumes more importance than ever. In this current set of things, has emerged as a key online player in the UAE market that believes in fostering long term relationship with consumers by offering quality products and discounts, which are applicable all year round.

Over the next three years, e-commerce sales are likely to nearly double, with the Middle East e-commerce market projected to be worth Dh179 billion ($48.6 billion) in 2022, up from Dh98.8 ($26.9 billion) in 2018, according to a report by Fitch Solutions.

Yet some consumers still aren’t comfortable making purchases over the internet. In a survey of 24,000 users in 24 countries by Ipsos and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, 22 per cent of respondents said they never shop online, with half (49 per cent) citing lack of trust as the reason. Retailers can win over those consumers by committing to some sound principles.

Keep your promises

How many of us haven’t heard of people who’ve ordered something online only for it to be a close imitation of the product advertised? One in five people are routinely disappointed by their online purchases, and are forced to return goods or switch to other retailers, a survey of 2,000 customers in the UAE found.

But a business model built on one sale to a customer is doomed to failure sooner or later. For these reasons, trust, respect and loyalty are among our core values at Shopinc, and we act on our promises by delivering 100 per cent genuine and ethically sourced items to customers’ homes. In the rare case that products are not as described on the website, we offer full refunds speedily.

Ask for recommendations

Communication underpins the success of any relationship, so why should retail be any different? Without being prompted, most customers will only bother to contact a retailer if they are disappointed, but those who’ve had a good experience will talk about it and post online if they feel they can help other shoppers.

Encouraging feedback directly impacts the bottom line. Once a consumer has made a purchase, it’s important they be encouraged to share their experience – if they feel heard, they will come back again, and the positive reviews can spur purchases from new customers. Approximately 91 per cent of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, a 2018 survey on 1,000 UAE respondents found.

Get personal

Chatbots are helping replicate the warmth of physical stores in the online space. These artificial intelligence programs are already used to answer customer questions based on the most common business inquiries. Having been around for some time now, the years of familiarity are starting to pay off for brands. A January Microsoft poll of 1,300 Middle East-based decision-makers shows that around 39 per cent of the region’s organizations have already have already adopted AI solutions and more than one third (37 per cent) are planning to adopt them in 2019.

The next step is improving chatbots’ interaction with consumers through personalization – an Accenture survey found that customers are 75 per cent more likely to make a purchase when a retailer recognizes them by name, or makes suggestions based on past purchases – as in the case of the “frequently bought together” recommendations. Indeed, by 2035, Accenture predicts that AI will boost profitability by an average of 38 per cent.

As they say, whatever you invest in pays rich dividends. Building and leveraging a one-to-one relationship of trust can indeed pay off for both retailer and consumer.

About the author

Rahul Duragkar is managing director of UAE-based online retailer Shopinc


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