E-commerce at the tap of your finger, by Horizon FCB’s Reham Mufleh

Horizon FCB’s Reham Mufleh explains how her agency and DHL Express put the digits into digital commerce to showcase the transportation service’s e-commerce platform.

According to McKinsey, 10 years of e-commerce adoption was compressed into three months during the pandemic, and the options were infinite.

How about creating, designing and launching your own e-commerce platform?

DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa had launched its DHL Africa e-shop in 2019 to promote online shopping and provide shipping solutions to African countries where some websites might not have been delivering. The e-commerce service-connected online shoppers from 34 African countries with more than 200 UK and US shopping sites by integrating the existing online retail and brokerage platforms developed by ‘MallForAfrica’ and DHL Express’s global logistics network. It shipped direct orders from those international retailers to the buyers across the network.

Following the success of the Africa launch, DHL MENA decided to launch the same product in North Africa and later on in the GCC markets. From $26.9bn in 2018, the estimated e-commerce sales in MENA were expected to reach $48.6bn by 2022, with a growth of 19.8 per cent in 2020 alone during the pandemic.

The objective of the DHL MENA e-shop was to provide a shopping solution for our region, open a world of retail opportunities from the USA and the UK; and create a B2C e-commerce platform that allowed shoppers to browse and shop for their favourite brands from America, their top shopping destination, with the tap of a finger. It’s so fast and convenient it’s like you’re actually shopping in a US neighbourhood. DHL was offering a great advantage for our region, where 66 per cent of online shoppers in the Middle East purchase from businesses outside the region.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt make up 80 per cent of MENA’s e-commerce market. Therefore, we started with the North African launch that targeted the Egyptian and Moroccan markets using a solid local insight to build our creativity around humour in their daily lives. Later on, we chose a different approach for the GCC markets based on another insight: simplicity. And how do you bring simplicity creatively into e-commerce?

We created the idea of the finger-tapping action and recreated an American shopping street diorama in perfect miniature form, and made an actual finger the ‘face’ of the DHL e-shop experience. The campaign was launched with one main film that focused on fashion and beauty, the biggest segment in e-commerce. Then we developed three personalised and targeted films showing different shopping situations that spoke to different needs: mums with children, sports enthusiasts and automotive aficionados.

Bringing together data, creativity and technology to form the needed equilibrium was essential to have the perfect launch for the new DHL e-shop app. Offering desired shopping experiences –  always with a tap of a finger.

In partnership with a director with extensive stop-motion experience, an actual architect, a civil engineer and a graphic designer, all based in Toronto, the film was planned and managed remotely from Dubai with precision, creativity and fun.

When it came to the filming, it was essential to showcase every hand-made detail. To achieve this, for example, the team researched American streets to make the landscape as authentic as possible. Moreover, all the elements on set were hand-made and to add an extra touch of realism, lampposts, drain covers and fire hydrants were all 3D-printed.

Attention was paid to every detail, including the smoke coming from the grates, the animated billboards, the green-screen skyline. We even designed graffiti through the alleyways, allowing the viewer to enjoy the diversity, the action and the reality of the street. The addition of 2D animation and personalised sound effects created an extra dimension, as they transformed the fingers into unique characters.

The result was a beautifully crafted series of films, banners and posts that captured the imagination of shoppers and encouraged them to take action, download the app, tap and shop. The campaign was a great success, delivered its KPIs and was one of the most engaging campaigns that DHL had experienced in MENA. Most importantly, the personalised targeting was also very new to the company, since this was the first time that DHL MENA targeted consumers versus the traditional B2B approach. Hence the success was notable in learning and sales.

The finger-tapping campaign that was created and launched for Saudi Arabia exceeded the total traffic to the site that Africa previously garnered in two years – in just three weeks.

Never finished, and following the success of the DHL e-shop campaign, more enriching experiences are being designed for the consumer in the MENA region.