E-commerce 2022: To each their own – by Samsung’s Shafi Alam

The key to unlocking e-commerce potential is being unique and personal, says Samsung’s Shafi Alam

By Shafi Alam, head of direct-to-consumer business & corporate marketing, Samsung Gulf Electronics

The pandemic has created a major shift in the retail landscape. While customer experience has long
been of paramount significance, the experience itself is in the midst of change. 

It’s here! Marcomms360 – Predictions 2023 is Campaign Middle East’s flagship annual event and a must-attend for anyone who wants to be prepared for the year ahead. The full-morning conference takes place on December 8 in Dubai. Book your tickets now before they sell out.


Consumers’ expectations, behaviours and priorities are now evolving at a rapid pace in the age of disruption and hyper-personalisation. A new time defined by smart technologies that affects and expands the consumer’s breadth of decision-making. 

From in-store marketing to e-commerce – and everything in between – the customer journey is decidedly defining the modern shopping experience. Currently, it is forecast that the market size of e-commerce industry in the GCC region is expected to reach $50bn by 2025. 

On top of that, new research from Merchant Machine has revealed the UAE has the fastest growing e-commerce market in 2022. Consumer spending is growing rapidly in the GCC countries, creating numerous opportunities for the e-commerce retail market growth, according to Research and Markets. It is expected that online shopping experiences will continue to grow at a rapid pace as the UAE bolsters one of the highest percentages of internet and mobile penetration worldwide. Brands need to capitalise on this growing opportunity, and position the electronics industry at the forefront of e-commerce on a long-term basis.

How Covid-19 unlocked the adoption of e-commerce in the MENA region

In 2020, there was an expected additional 6 per cent annual market growth due to Covid-19 alone, according to Statista, marking a conscious precedent provoked by the pandemic. Leading e-commerce trends is electronics, jumping to the best-selling online product category last year and accounting for 34 per cent of total sales in the UAE. 

E-commerce is also catering to the new way people are consuming electronics through brands and their partners’ platforms. A rise in exclusive launches on global online stores also encouraged e-commerce players to gain a competitive advantage and expand their market share. This, as a result, has attracted more and more customers to the digital shift. 

At Samsung, we were quick to adopt to the new paradigm shift, taking the innovation charge head-on by reimagining our next chapter of digital and online experiences. 

We recognised very early that the new age of window shopping is online, and as a result we spearheaded new partnerships and investments aiming to bring in an optimised user experience, both in front of the customer and in the background. 

To that end, I am proud to be at the heart of a journey that started back in 2018, in the UAE specifically, where we first launched our e-store for Samsung Gulf Electronics. Our e-store operation has been experiencing two-fold growth year-on-year since the pandemic began. This huge success is attributed to our commitment to provide our consumers a seamless and truly personalised shopping experience. We developed exclusive
reward programmes, value-added services such as doorstep trade-in for mobiles and TVs, and easy 24-month instalments with most major UAE banks, as well as after sale benefits such as Samsung Care+ and more to meet the individual needs of each and every customer. 

To top it all off, we made access to our Samsung Bespoke product line easier than ever, boasting multiple categories across mobile, home appliances and more. The Bespoke portfolio attracted a wide array of consumers online and offline, thanks to its unique features, colour combinations, hyper-personalisation and self-expression through technology. 

Transforming the retail experience of the future

While there is a daunting unpredictability to the outcomes of this online e-commerce craze, there is a silver lining that can be felt across the entire ecosystem. As consumers browse more, brands have a golden opportunity to know their consumers better, and consequently personalise their shopping experience and make it truly their own. 

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that change is inevitable. Now that working from home is a norm, hybrid work is a choice, and technology is still evolving more rapidly than ever before, consumers are rushing to the occasion of making their life more adaptable to the very changes that life offers, and that means taking care of their own needs, their own space, and not at the expense of design and personal experience.  

Customers are looking for a greater array of choice and are turning online to retrieve their preferred and tailored product offering, and it is up to us as players in the industry to face the growing consumer demand online –and offline – and continuously re-shape, re-write and respond to customer journey in what is known as the ‘phygital’ world.