Why Damas CEO will never go 'full speed ahead' with e-commerce

I hope my kids never get proposed to by a guy who has bought their engagement ring online, says Asil Attar
Why Damas CEO will never go 'full speed ahead' with e-commerce
Damas Jewellery CEO Asil Attar.
By Lubna Hamdan
Thu 27 Jun 2019 03:36 PM

Dubai-based retail giant Damas Jewellery is unlikely to ever launch a fully integrated e-commerce business, according to CEO Asil Attar, as she believes most shoppers will refrain from making an emotional purchase online.

Speaking to Arabian Business, she said: “E-commerce is a great tool for certain brands and certain products, but in the world of fine jewellery, certainly for us, I don’t think we’re ever going to go full speed ahead with e-commerce because nobody is going to purchase an emotional purchase by flipping through a catalogue. You’re not going to have the same experience and of course it’s an investment so the look, feel and experience [matter]”.

Attar, who is the company’s first female CEO, added that while customers will buy electronics and fashion online, buying a diamond engagement ring will never become the norm.

“It depends on what product you’re selling. When it’s electronics and fashion, of course it’s about the luxury of time speed, but when it’s jewellery, it’s a serious decision you’re making. So for me, it’s not a purchase you will naturally go [online for]. Somebody looking for a really special gift or set or diamond engagement ring, I cannot see that becoming a natural thing in the future: ‘I’m getting married, let me shop [the ring] online.’

If that’s how men want to shop, I hope to God that my friends and my kids never get proposed to by a guy who’s bought their engagement ring online. But if it works for men, then that’s great and a lot of jewellery brands, who do have e-commerce, typically peak in gifting season or Valentine’s [Day] and it’s a male consumer purchase so I get that and I understand and it’s probably very smart, but we’re not going into that,” she said.

Damas Jewellery will sell limited collections online by 2020, Attar said, but is using e-commerce as a marketing tool to drive footfall to its more than 200 stores across the GCC.

“E-commerce, for us, will be much more about an editorial feel, so you’re not browsing 1,000 pages of products. It’s more about the best looks, must-haves and what’s trending. We’ll be selling online but very limited [products]. For me, e-commerce is a marketing tool and an enabler to drive footfall to our stores,” Attar said.

The CEO added that the lack of leisure activities in the region makes malls particularly important for consumers in the GCC, and that e-commerce will never replace the engagement they have with physical stores.

“My take on e-commerce, and not just in this business, is that there’s nothing in this region that will ever take away from the physical and emotional engagement of [brick and mortar]. This is a region where you dwell; you don’t have much leisure, all you do is hang out in malls and you shop,” she said.

Damas Jewellery is one of the oldest brands in the UAE, having been founded in 1907 as a goldsmith. It opened its first store in the Dubai Gold Souk in 1959 and continues to operate it to this day.

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