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Digital Marketing

Luxury Ecommerce in the Middle East vs COVID-19

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It may be a challenge to name any sector of the global economy (outside healthcare) that has emerged stronger from the COVID-19 crisis. However, one contender could certainly be the luxury ecommerce market in the Middle East, the very subject of conversation at the first Vogue Business event in the region.

The event was held at Volte Art Projects in Dubai on 16th March 2022, in partnership with the UK's Department for International Trade (DIT). Speakers from the Middle East luxury sector came together to discuss how high-end retail and business in the region continues to evolve.

Luxury Brands Meet in Dubai

As the region plots a post-COVID-19 roadmap for growth, among those providing insights on the state of the sector in the Middle East was Burak Cakmak, CEO of the Fashion Commission of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture.

Cakmak observed that while the Middle East had previously seen a slow adoption of ecommerce, the pandemic's impact had led to consumers taking a closer look at the possibilities of digital. He said that luxury ecommerce was just one aspect of the digital surge, with gaming and social shopping also rising in prominence. Indeed, he said that entire families were now happily sharing recommendations and inspiration on platforms such as Snapchat, which helped drive luxury purchases.

Also present at the event were Nisreen Shocair - CEO of YOOX Net-a-Porter Group in the Middle East, and Harrods managing director - Michael Ward. Ward's keynote session focused on how the luxury department store retailer had dealt with the profound impact of both Brexit and the COVID-19 outbreak, including proactive steps to attract the return of tourists.

Ward expressed how Harrods had sought to boost brand awareness with investment in global retail and hospitality locations in China and the Middle East. Meanwhile, the London flagship store's £6 million hair salon had been part of the retailer's moves to offer new in-store experiences.

Harrods have also worked to enhance its artificial intelligence (AI) and data collection and brought circular fashion to its store. Ward stated: "We've invested in our data collection – and young talent who teach me new things every day."

Changing Consumer Attitudes 

Until relatively recently, shoppers in the Middle East still required convincing about the benefits to purchase luxury items online. Middle East luxury re-sale marketplace, The Luxury Closet, found that when it first launched in 2011, some work was required to win the hearts and minds of consumers who didn't look much beyond in-store retail.

Fast-forward just over a decade, and it seems that such hard work is paying off. According to Elisa SorgiMuch (chief merchandising officer at The Luxury Closet), greater numbers of women across this part of the world are now purchasing and selling second-hand luxury. And as the business continues its evolution, it is now looking into other new technologies such as NFTs to support authentication.

With the above points being just some of the insights gained from speakers at the Vogue Business event, it's clear that the luxury e-tail sector in the Middle East has also come a long way. However, progress remains ongoing, including issues around sustainability and the growth of NFTs. Developments in the years ahead promise to be enthralling across a region that has begun to tap into the considerable potential for its high-end ecommerce space.

Is your business digging deep into its potential for the foreseeable future? As a luxury ecommerce global marketing agency with considerable Dubai based clients, perhaps we can help? We'd be delighted to hear from you for a non-obligatory chat.



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