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    The gulf region is set to grow exponentially within the next few years. UAE holds a special position amongst all the countries in the Middle East. It is one of the most prosperous countries in the region. The internet penetration rate in the UAE is 90%, which is considered to be one of the highest in the world.

    The UAE has also joined the smartphone revolution and 82 % of the total population are active mobile internet users. According to Google Consumer Barometer, around 89 % of users reported daily access to the internet. The eCommerce sales in the region are heavily skewed in favour of Dubai as the city houses 6 out of 10 of all online buyers. These statistics attract companies for eCommerce business expansion to Dubai

    According to an article in the Gulf News, Dubai Executive Council seeks to increase the share of eCommerce in the local economy. The council is chalking out plans to attract foreign direct investments in the eCommerce sector. It also aims to reduce the cost of eCommerce operations by a fifth.

    In this post, we’ll look at seven important considerations in planning for expanding eCommerce business to Dubai.

    Market Analysis

    If you are planning to expand your eCommerce business to Dubai, you must conduct a thorough market analysis first. This will include gaining knowledge about the demographics, identifying the market segments, defining your target segment, market size, competition, substitute products, etc.

    Suppose an eCommerce apparel enterprise wants to expand its business to Dubai. It becomes important for the firm to ascertain the market potential among other key market variables.

    A report from 2018 shows that software products hold 41% of the country’s eCommerce market while clothing and fashion accessories hold 17% and 14% respectively.  It is evident that there is low penetration in the fashion and clothing segment. But only further market research could tell whether there is market potential or not. If the market volume of retail fashion and clothing is good, it could be a good sign but that also needs to be further examined. Presence of similar competitors is a quick way to shed some light on market potential.

    There are various market research agencies in Dubai whose services can be hired for better information and insights.

    Feasibility Study

    Feasibility study answers whether a business or a business idea would be feasible or not and if a compatible business environment exists. A feasibility study assesses the actual ground-situation by taking into consideration all the relevant environmental factors that would directly or indirectly have an impact on business and its continuance.

    For example, it is important to be convergent with the laws and regulations governing international eCommerce business and such companies in the UAE. If a particular product/service is reserved for the domestic companies, then a contrary business idea falls flat in the first place.

    Another important aspect to consider is the taxation environment in the UAE for eCommerce businesses – applicable tax rates, penalties, surcharges, export and import duties, etc. This affects the profitability of a business project.

    Other important considerations include labour laws (which may be different from what it is in your home country), presence of necessary supply chain and distribution network and infrastructure, support of banking services, meeting technological requirements, etc.

    Business Plan

    Once you assess that your intended offering has a potential market and business is feasible, next you’ll have to figure out how you will create and deliver this offering to the target market segment over and over again.

    This will include considering regulatory permissions and compliances for doing business, laying out the logistical, supply chain and distribution network plan from source to destination and vice-versa, human resource management, marketing strategy, office and administration, financial planning (capital requirements, profitability, break-even, etc.), technology and technology partners, etc.

    Dubai has a large community of expatriate professionals which is an advantage from an HR perspective. The city’s infrastructure is considered to be one of the best in the world and it is not very difficult for businesses to have access to world-class amenities.

    Mode of Entry

    There are several modes of entering as a business entity into new geography. Different modes of entry are establishing fully owned subsidiaries, partnerships, franchising, mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances, joint ventures, exports, etc. There are pros and cons of each of these entry modes in different countries. For example, Amazon acquired the UAE’s Souq to cater to the host country’s markets.

    Marketing Strategy

    Impressing customers in the UAE can be a tough job with global brands functioning at full-throttle. There might be a tiny window to communicate the value of your offering to your customers; done wrong and they might never look back at your communications whether hoardings or social media campaigns. The challenge could be even bigger with low-priced, homogenous products where brand alone could play the make or break.

    The UAE is a relatively small country in terms of geography and thus, there is hardly any excuse for inefficiencies in the delivery and distribution network.

    Competing with big brands on the front of digital marketing can be difficult. No competitive business in the UAE can afford to play below the industry standards and customers’ expectations.

    Financial Analysis

    Financial analysis is already touched in a feasibility study but after a business plan is prepared, more precise details are available for better financial assessment for the proposed business venture. Irrespective of markets and geographies, some important aspects to be covered under financial planning include:

    •         Assessment of capital requirements, source(s) of capital, capital structuring, cost of capital, terms of repayment, etc.
    •         Operational expenditure budget
    •         Sales forecasts
    •         Projected cash flow
    •         Planning for working capital management
    •         Projected income statement
    •         Projected profit and loss statement
    •         Projected balance sheet
    •         Break-even analysis
    •         Ratio analysis

    Web/App Customization-

    Last but not the least, comes the forefront platform customization. This is where your brand interacts with your customers at the working level. Other things would not even arise if your customers could not properly interact with your eCommerce website or application. This gives rise to the need to customize an eCommerce website/app to make it compatible with the audiences for whom it is meant. Such customizations include using the host country’s official language(s) to display content like website content, headings and title pages, navigation links, product descriptions, addresses, etc. The prices also need to be reflected in the host country’s official currency. There can be more of these customizations to fine-tune the local requirements.

    About us

    Your Retail Coach (YRC) is a retail consulting and eCommerce outsourcing company in India offering a wide range of services in retail offline, retail eCommerce and retail omnichannel catering to a multitude of industries.

     

    PROCESS AUTOMATION

    The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

    In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

    Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

    Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

    YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

    VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

    No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

    Photography includes the following steps:

    • Cataloguing your products
    • Cataloguing your images
    • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
    • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

    DIGITAL MARKETING

    Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

    Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

    These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

    Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

    This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

    IT INTEGRATION

    Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

    YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

    IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

    This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

    Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

    WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

    • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
    • Where should your Warehouse be located?
    • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
    • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
    • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
    • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
    • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
    • How much space do I require for warehouse?
    • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

     

    At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

    We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

    Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

    UI & UX DESIGNING

    This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

    Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

    From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

    Part 2: UX Designing:

    “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

    UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

    “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

    An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

    Part 3: UI Designing:

    UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

    A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

    The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

    If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

    At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

    SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

    This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

    In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

    Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

    Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

    Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

    Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

    Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

    Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

    PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

    Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

    Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

    • In-house Design Team
    • Freelance Designers
    • Outsourced Design Team
    • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

    At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

    These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

    If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

    Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

    BRANDING

    Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

    Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

    It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

    ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

    Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

    SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

    At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

    CRITICAL PATHWAY

    Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

    CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

    CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

    At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

    BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

    Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

    Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

    Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

    YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

    MARKET RESEARCH

    Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.