Select Page

Reading Time: About 7-8 minutes

GCC or the Gulf Cooperation Council is an economic and political alliance of six middle‐eastern countries namely the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman. It is one of the fastest-growing regional eCommerce markets in the world. The market size of the eCommerce industry in the GCC was slated to reach USD 20 billion by 2020.

Considering the global pandemic situation and the resultant economic slowdown, these estimates will have to be revised. What is not likely to change much is the underlying eCommerce market potential in the GCC. Consumption and economic and business activities might be down for now but like anywhere else in the world it is a perfect time for eCommerce businesses to think of adaptability and expansion. So, what do eCommerce businesses with expansion plans to GCC / UAE do now?

In this article, we will highlight nine important considerations for eCommerce enterprises with aspirations to expand their business to the GCC/UAE market.

Solid Market Research

Market research is a basic and foremost requirement in planning business entry to any new market territory. Under the shadow of COVID pandemic and lockdown, market research has assumed unparalleled expertise. The on-going global crisis has already changed customer behaviour in terms of priorities and preferences pertaining to demand for products/services, channels of delivery, method of payment, safety and hygiene assurances, etc. Thus, a thorough and updated market research becomes crucial for assessing a new market. Old research and data will not accurately reveal the current priorities and preferences of the customers.

Things look good for eCommerce business in carrying out a market research study (either on its own or via any agency) now because people around the world are spending more time on the internet. Web, search engine and social media analytics can provide fresh, relevant, and ample data.

An important consideration for the GCC/UAE market is that the market research industry there is in its nascent stages.

Good market research should aim at achieving insights for:

  •  Demand for a product/service offering in a new territory
  •  Size of the total market and addressable market segment
  •  Customers’ tastes and preferences
  •  Level of competition
  •  Substitute products
  •  Industry trends and forecasts

Robust Inventory Management

Managing inventory systems for a region that comprises six countries can be a challenge. It calls for well-planned inventory management systems aided by Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for ensuring smooth flow of goods, cost optimization, and consistency in performance across the supply chain. But irrespective of the geographical territory, the fundamentals of establishing a robust inventory management system do not change. As the territory gets bigger, so must the system’s capabilities.

The need for robust inventory management becomes more pertinent for the GCC eCommerce market from a marketing perspective. Several international brands already have a strong presence there. The spending power of customers is well-recognized. Customers’ expectations remain high and strong. New eCommerce players need to keep themselves up to the prevalent standards of inventory management towards ensuring that customers’ needs and expectations in this regard remain consistently addressed.

Centralized Distribution Hub from free-trade Zones in Dubai

Free-Trade Zones are areas or regions where businesses (operating in those regions) are exempted from the major types of taxes applicable in a country like corporate taxes, custom duties, income taxes, Value Added Taxes, etc. under given conditions. This is done by various countries to promote trade, business, economic activity and foreign investment. In these zones, goods can be dropped, moved, manufactured, reconfigured and even re-exported without the intervention of the customs authorities.

Here, Dubai can prove to be a good choice as UAE is emerging to be the favourite eCommerce market hub of all the GCC countries. There are 24 free-trade zones in Dubai for specific sectors and industries. These free-trade zones offer an opportunity for foreign companies to set up regional manufacturing facilities or distribution bases with complete business ownership and full tax exemptions under necessary licensing and approvals.

Under a centralized distribution hub model, companies maintain a central warehousing and distribution facility to and from which the flow of inventory takes place. There are several benefits to this model. First of all, it makes the task of inventory management and distribution organized. Secondly, if done right, it can prove to be efficient as against maintaining multiple smaller distribution centres. Thirdly, better focus can be laid on service through SOPs, better manpower, and advanced equipment and technologies. Fourthly, better 3PL service providers can be attracted because of higher inventory volume and quality of service and operational infrastructure.

Outsourcing Inventory Fulfilment to 3PL Partner

Outsourcing inventory fulfilment to a 3PL partner involves hiring a third-party logistics management company to take care of your warehousing, picking, packing, shipping and returns processing. 3PL arrangements are useful in new geographies and new markets for a foreign company. It sheds off the burden of building and establishing inventory and logistics assets in a foreign land. And resultantly, companies spare their focus on other important areas like marketing, finance, customer support, IT applications, etc.

Dubai, being an eCommerce hub has no dearth of 3PL service providers. Varying from company to company, offered services may include cargo, warehousing, distribution network support, 24×7 support, etc. catering to businesses of all sizes.

Tying up with Courier Partners for last-mile Delivery

For the last mile delivery, established courier service agencies may be hired to pick up goods from warehouses and deliver it to the end customer at his doorstep. These service providers must be professional and carry a good reputation. In a foreign land, it is ideal to go with a strong brand name.

The last-mile delivery can make or break the brand equity of a company. For instance, Amazon took everyone by surprise by introducing “one-day delivery” assurance to its customers and they made it happen and it changed the perception of a lot of naysayers towards the company.

This is an ideal strategy in supply chain management in eCommerce suggested by many eCommerce business consultants in global eCommerce solutions. Delivery has become a key differentiating factor in the eCommerce business as more and more players are entering the game. Thus, you should make sure to have the fastest delivery possible and see if customers are ready to pay a premium for such concepts as same-day delivery guarantee.

Customer Support Team with Language Proficiency

Customer support is another highly important aspect in an eCommerce business as an important element of customer experience and customer journey. In almost every eCommerce platform customers can check anything online – products, delivery status, payment refund, etc. It is only in the event of something going out of the standard route that customers get in touch with the support team. These communications are usually one to one and take place via emails or phone calls. The customer support representatives need to be proficient with the local languages to handle these communications effectively. Doing so does not elevate customer experience but failing to do so will have a degrading effect.

Local agency for accounting, taxation & regulatory compliances and advisory

The law of the land must prevail. Foreign companies need to remain in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. This is not just in Dubai but for any place of operation. These compliances could be in the areas of maintenance of accounting records as required, adherence to taxation rules, keeping the necessary business licenses and permissions updated, labour laws, etc.

Because it would be not possible for a foreign company to quickly learn and adapt to a new environment, authorized local agencies that provide helping services to businesses could be considered. Working with such agencies will significantly ease off the burden, help companies be on track, and avoid any unintentional violation of applicable laws.

Website Localization

The simple thing is that an eCommerce website or app should be built and designed keeping in mind its local users. Thus, content localization becomes important. Just as you were having a customer support team who is well versed with the local languages and dialect, you should also design your website or app in a similar way. Apart from the use of local language for writing website content, other aspects to be localized in an eCommerce website are display time, currency, customer support phone numbers, navigation buttons, cultural considerations etc. The website must also come across as familiar and friendly to the visitors for them to take an interest in it.

Digital Marketing with GCC Countries in Focus

Running a business in a foreign country is unfathomable without digital marketing especially in the UAE market which is fast-rising and emerging to be a global eCommerce hub. With a digital marketing strategy, foreign companies can spread awareness in remote market geography. Without any prior presence, digital marketing is the best way forward.

Digital marketing campaigns can be based on search engines and social media. It can also be in the form of blogs, videos, infographics, press releases, and email marketing. Here, the emphasis must be local with the target being global. A glocal strategy must be incorporated to attract more audience. This is even more pertinent in Dubai that already houses big global brands and is known to have customers with very high expectations both in terms of products and services.

One more important thing in digital marketing is to keep a tab on ROI (Return on Investment) from digital marketing campaigns. This is to ensure that investments in campaigns that are not yielding desired output are redirected to new or fruitful campaigns.


The GCC or UAE eCommerce market is undoubtedly attractive but can be severely competitive. These are wealthy nations, have all major global brands working at full-throttle, customers with very high expectations, business negotiations can be very tough, and state-of-the-art technologies at work. In order to launch, survive and grow in this market, eCommerce players will have to take into account all the important considerations. In this article, we made an attempt to cover nine crucial ones. We hope it gives the audience some leading thoughts on an ideal eCommerce growth strategy.

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.

Your Retail Coach (YRC) helps retail businesses with their web store and online marketplace sales management strategies and practices with a focus on developing brand awareness.

YRC assists retail businesses in managing their supply chain via services and support in warehouse management, procurement, inventory management, dispatch and team management riding on proven models of logistics and use of technology.



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.


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 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.


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.


  • 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.


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!


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 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 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.


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 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 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.


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.