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Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Data Analytics are the hottest emerging trends right now. These new-age technologies are transforming and redefining almost all industries, including healthcare, education, retail, BFSI, manufacturing, supply chain & logistics, transportation, and eCommerce.
Thanks to the digital transformation driven by disruptive technologies like AI and Big Data, the eCommerce landscape is rapidly evolving to cater to the changing customer needs and behaviour. With the rapidly growing adoption of smartphones and increased accessibility to quality Internet connections worldwide, online shopping is gaining immense popularity. As more people tread the digital domain, they leave crucial data in the form of digital footprints. This data is a goldmine for eCommerce companies. AI, Big Data, and Data Analytics allow eCommerce companies to harness user data to optimize production, personalize products and services, increase sales and ROI, enhance the overall customer experience, and increase customer-brand interaction.
Today, the Middle East region, including Gulf Countries and the MENA region, boasts of being the fastest-growing eCommerce market globally, recording an annual growth rate of 25%, faster than the global average. UAE and Saudi Arabia are the top two gulf nations having the highest growth trajectory in eCommerce. According to Statista, the valuation of the eCommerce market in the Middle East is projected to exceed US$ 27 billion by 2025.
How are Gulf Countries leveraging AI, Big Data, and Analytics to reshape the eCommerce Industry?
Data is the new “oil” in the Middle East. Today, most GCC nations are gearing up for digital transformation by actively adopting technologies like AI, IoT, Big Data, and cloud. The Gulf Countries are proactively adopting and leveraging emerging technologies by steering a significant portion of capital investments in Data Science, AI, and Machine learning R&D. Investment in these domains is flowing both from domestic and international markets.
According to Accenture’s research, AI holds tremendous potential to boost the Middle East region’s economic growth rates. For instance, UAE launched ‘Strategy for AI,’ an initiative dedicated to improving the government’s performance across all levels.
Saudi Arabia is witnessing rapid growth in AI, VR, digital health, and finance automation. This comes as a welcome result of STC’s (Saudi Arabia’s ruling telecom service provider) $500m technology investment fund. Along with this, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund also announced a US$ 93 billion technology fund in partnership with Apple, Softbank, and Qualcomm to promote AI and robotics technologies.
Digital transformation in the Middle East region is rapidly taking shape through innovative strategies like ‘Smart City,’ ‘Dubai IoT strategy,’ and ‘Digital Wealth Initiative.’ These technology projects aim to build a connected city ecosystem wherein all residents enjoy a high standard of digital living and well-being.
Here’s how technologies like AI, Big Data, and Data Analytics can transform the eCommerce landscape in Gulf Countries:
1. Deliver customer-centric experiences
eCommerce providers can use AI and Big Data to effectively re-target customers by pitching products/services that resonate best with their interests and needs.
While Data Analytics can help uncover meaningful patterns in customers’ browsing behavior and purchases, AI can help enhance the customer experience by creating personalized recommendations. Also, AR/VR technologies can deliver a wholesome online shopping experience for customers.
2. Harness the power of visual search
AI-powered smart bots are excellent tools for visual search. They enable users to find their desired products simply by uploading an image. This process not only shortens the search time but also makes for a rich and engaging customer experience.
Visual search has emerged as a convenient alternative for text search, particularly for products/services that are difficult to express in words.
3. Enhance customer service
It is a known fact that inadequate and incompetent customer service adversely impacts brand reputation. eCommerce companies must up their game by offering immediate customer support for customer complaints, requests, and queries.
Using Big Data, eCommerce firms can understand the unique needs of different buyer personas and address their claims and grievances accordingly. AI chatbots can communicate with customers 24×7 and even escalate to customer support executives when required. This is how Big Data and AI can help eCommerce providers to build long-lasting customer relationships.
4. Utilize real-time analytics
Big Data enables eCommerce platforms to take advantage of real-time analytics to gain deep insights into their target audience. Analytics allows businesses to monitor, analyze, and measure key metrics like traffic, search volume, transactions, etc., in real-time.
Using this data, eCommerce providers can tweak their website design, marketing strategies, and customization plans to attract the right audience at the right time.
5. Boost efficiency and productivity of backend operations
Many eCommerce firms have started implementing AI-powered bots and smart assistants in backend operations. For instance, AI bots can stack shelves, manage and monitor inventory data, pack ordered items, and assist human employees in a host of other tasks.
Furthermore, drones are now being used to promote contactless delivery. Such nifty AI tools are helping streamline operations and improving workplace efficiency.
The consumer base in the MENA region, specifically those of GCC nations, boasts of being one of the most digitally connected and tech-savvy in the world. The region has a very high level of internet, smartphone, and social media penetration. Coupled with the regional governments’ pioneering digital strategies and upskilling initiatives, the Middle East is set to becoming a force to reckon with in the digital and eCommerce domain.
The most substantial contribution to the retail sector’s growth in the Middle East will come from online eCommerce platforms. Big Data solutions, Deep Learning models, NLP, predictive analytics, and AI-powered image/voice recognition tools will be the primary drivers fuelling digital transformation and the rapid expansion of MENA’s eCommerce industry.
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