Leveraging tech to enhance customer experiences

GroupM MENA’s Haneen Aburrubb foresees a handful of key trends redefining the commerce experience

MENA’s commerce landscape is poised for change, blending innovation, technological integration, and rising consumer expectations. 

Notably, retail media’s popularity is soaring, securing its position as one of the fastest-growing channels within an anticipated 25.6 per cent growth in 2024, as forecasted in GroupM’s proprietary intelligence report This Year, Next Year.

Local retailers are on the precipice of realising the potential for increased revenue through retail media. 

We’re particularly excited about this shift because, by leveraging technology to improve their margins, local retailers are not just evolving; they are enhancing customer experiences. 

Retailers possess a treasure trove of first-party data, becoming even more crucial at a time when 3rd-party cookies are on the verge of disappearing. Let’s explore five major predictions encapsulating this dynamic shift.


In 2024, local retailers especially in MENA are anticipated to broaden their horizons beyond their own technology stack. This shift involves seeking the expertise of technology enabler companies, including global players such as Criteo and Citrus and regional players like Ritelo.

This exploration is anticipated to streamline advertising product offerings for brands, with AdTech playing a pivotal role in unifying the retail ecosystem. The rise of retail marketplaces is on the horizon, facilitated by technology enablers that bring together fragmented retailers, creating new opportunities for brand exposure.

Simultaneously, there will be a notable shift towards the decoupling of retail data from a retailer’s inventory. This move will see the emergence of clean rooms and Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) taking centre stage in managing and controlling retailer data. 

This evolution is set to redefine how advertisers connect with audiences by providing a foundation for audience extension and offsite capabilities. 

Non-endemic brands are anticipated to seize the opportunity to leverage retailers’ first-party data, tapping into rich, anonymized insights segmented by consumer habits, behaviours, basket size and geography.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has shifted from being a distant force to a friendly presence, significantly altering shopping experiences. Envision, a shopping companion empowered with advanced AI algorithms, examining your preferences, past purchases and browsing history. 

This goes beyond mere product suggestions; it entails crafting a personalised experience for each individual. In the evolving retail landscape, AI has played a pivotal role behind the scenes, fueling eCommerce experiences. 

Now AI is stepping closer to the forefront of the consumer experience, reshaping the narrative of retail advertising. What used to be six ad slots could become one or experience a complete transformation in the way consumers are served ads. 

Achieving operational excellence (including SEO, maintaining healthy stock levels) becomes even more critical for success working together with ads. 


We expect Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) to make a strong comeback, introducing new ways for brands to connect with customers, emerging with convenience and hyper-personalised experiences. 

What sets it apart as a true game-changer is its ability to deliver unparalleled value and experiences, including Augmented Reality (AR) tech and Virtual Try-On Experiences. These innovative features allow consumers to visualise products in real-time and virtually try on clothing, accessories, or even makeup before making online purchases.

This return isn’t just about selling things; it’s about creating experiences customers will love. It’s like having your own personal shopping adventure from home. That’s the exciting part D2C brings. 

Yet, it’s not just about fancy shopping or a passing trend; it’s a clever move for brands driven by realising the necessity to establish a direct relationship with consumers, securing access to invaluable insights. 

Simultaneously, brands need to keep in mind loyalty as a differentiator for DTC and keep up with the standards of convenience retail has set while also providing incremental value and personalisation. 

This shift requires a strategic approach to outlining clear roles for both D2C and retail media. The ultimate goal is to capture the consumer effectively, ensuring separation in measurement and audience strategies acknowledging D2C as a pivotal source of first-party data.


Our favourite social hangouts – Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, are beyond scrolling down posts; they have transformed into dynamic eCommerce platforms. 

Think of it as the smooth merging of shopping into everyday social life. As commerce grows within these channels, brands need to adapt to consumer needs and be present where their shoppers are. 

This will require brands shifting attention to social shopper insights, the technical endeavour required to setup social commerce presence and how will attribution work. 

In summary, the commerce landscape in MENA for 2024 is more than a mere transactional canvas. Businesses that take on these trends and put the needs and expectations of consumers at the forefront will find themselves thriving in this dynamic landscape.

The key to success lies in customer-centric strategies, fast delivery services and experiences that seamlessly blend online and offline worlds.

By Haneen Aburrubb, eCommerce Director at GroupM MENA