Dubai retailers should stop bombarding customers with SMS, emails

Booz Allen Hamilton urges brands to use predictive capabilities to target consumers
By Parag Deulgaonkar
Mon 17 Jul 2017 09:33 AM

Retailers in Dubai should drop their marketing strategy of sending out mass emails and text messages to attract customers, according to a global management consultancy.

The advice from Booz Allen Hamilton comes as the emirate celebrates the 20th edition of Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), with the city hosting a number of promotional offers.

The consultancy said retailers should harness the intelligence and predictive capabilities of data to target customers effectively. Adopting predictive analytics will help reduce operational costs, enhance customer experience and boost return on investments, it said.

“UAE retailers must leverage the value of both internal data, including customer profiles, social media, footfall and transactions – and external data, including customer social profile, traffic and weather data to curate their offering to drive sales, while also optimising their engagement with customers,” Booz Allen Hamilton vice president Danny Karam said.

“It’s about getting customers to personally engage with a retailer’s brand. Sending out blanket text messages or even emails is just not going to work any more.”

The consultancy said that identifying contact points, such as stores, e-commerce sites, interactive displays where brands can learn about their customers is critical in building personalised data profiles of individual shoppers, which in turn facilitates predictive intelligence-based marketing.

Social media plays an important role to help retailers develop a more personal understanding of their customer base, Booz Allen Hamilton said.

According to GSM Association’s 2015 report, smartphone connections across the Arab world is expected to grow faster than the global average, at a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent between 2014 and 2020.

Data from platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can help retailers map their temperament, preferences and interests, the consultancy said.

Monitoring what’s trending online or hashtag clouds used by target audiences could also help develop targeted, personalized sales campaigns, it added.

Karam urged retailers to focus on expanding their sources of data and consolidating it then looking at what not analytics can do for them, but what it can do for the customer.

Retailers will have to tap into the vast reserves of existing data to capture the right audience and stay ahead of their competition during DSS and beyond as foreign direct investment in the Middle East grows and new brands enter the market, he added.

This month, CBRE said Dubai remained the second most important shopping destination in the world for a sixth year in row, closely following London.

According to consultancy firm JLL, Dubai is the leading retail location in the Gulf region, with 3.39 million square metres (sqm) of retail malls, ahead of other major cities such as Abu Dhabi (2.62m sqm), Jeddah (1.21m sqm) and Riyadh (1.17m sqm).

Globally, Dubai has approximately twice as much retail space per capita as London, indicating its reputation as a major international retail hub, it said.

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