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Will Ikea’s venture into region’s online shopping scene be a success?
How often do you shop at a local online store? Ikea’s hoping your answer to that is every day. Would Ikea succeed where so many have failed?
June 13, 2011 3:21 by Precious de Leon
By next year, if you’re looking to buy that sofa set or that pair of lamps, instead of driving your way down all the way to Ikea, all you may have to do is open your computer and order online.
At least that’s what the world’s biggest furniture retailer hopes for, as it recently announced it plans to launch a website early next year allowing UAE customers to buy online and have their purchased items delivered at home. The move is in line with the capabilities of Ikea’s websites in other regions, according to an article on The National.
Yes, an international retail brand launching an online shopping site in the UAE in the same year that the iPad2 is launched; that Emirates Airlines is launching a boarding pass mobile app; and that the rest of the world is going crazy for QR codes. Well, if you’ve been in the Middle East a long time, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear such news stories.
While there have been online companies which have been receiving positive reception, such as JadoPado.com, Nahel.com and Souq.com, retail brands have not been particularly successful in entering the retail space.
Last year, superstore chain Carrefour launched ic4uae.com in September—the first of the UAE’s major retailers to go online. But before that, there was Brownbag.ae, of which only remains a Facebook page, a blog site and a directory listing. The website has shut down for what Kipp can only gather are logistics difficulties and minimal revenues.
But a snowball of retailers going online (finally) is expected, now that a couple of big names are in that space. Supermarket chain Lulu, for example, is planning to a shopping site, as well.
Aside from the irksome fact that Kipp can’t believe people are still playing catch up in terms of online shopping in the region, we’re also not entirely sure how the concept of grocery shopping online will be received in a country that sees shopping as a family activity.
There are a lot of insights that show steady growth in online shopping in the UAE. However, most of these transactions are made through international sites. The bank’s lack of facilities that would allow local businesses to offer easy online payment structures is just one of the hurdles.
But of course we’re talking about clothes, books and the like. For groceries and big ticket items like furniture, Kipp wonders if how the brands will transfer the experience from the store to online.
The question remains: will customers in the UAE feel at home with foregoing the touchy-feely aspect of home shopping?
*image from cymaxstores.blogspot.com