on ways to elevate their digital strategy amid Covid-19
Entrepreneurs and businesspersons learn the art of surviving in the online marketplace
at a virtual discussion by Sharjah-based Badiri Education and Capacity Development Academy
In the wake of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, businesses worldwide have been experiencing an unprecedented level of digital activation. To aid entrepreneurs and businesspersons in leveraging digital platforms to expand their businesses, Badiri Education and Development Academy, the education and capacity building arm of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), in partnership with American University of Sharjah, convened marketing experts and industry leaders at a virtual discussion, ‘E-commerce and Digital Marketing’ on Wednesday to discuss the future of e-commerce in Sharjah and UAE, and address key challenges in digital marketing in the current socioeconomic scenario.
Hisham Akhtar, Senior Venture Associate, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (SHERAA); M. Sajid Khan, PhD, Professor of Marketing, Head of Department, Marketing and MIS, School of Business Administration, American University of Sharjah; and Saeed Ghanim Alsuwaidi, founder & CEO of Innovation Box, headlined the discussion. Amal Khatib, Implementation Consultant, Oliver Wyman, moderated the session.
Welcoming the speakers and audience, Dr Mona Al Ali, Manager, Badiri Education and Development Academy, said: “We trust this session will serve to enlighten entrepreneurs on the ways to formulate a winning digital strategy to take their business forward in these difficult times.”
The Digital 2020 July Global Statshot report reveals that 3.96 billion people – accounting for roughly 51 percent of the world’s population – now use social media. Ninety nine percent of them access social media via mobile phones. Under such circumstances, businesses need to quickly pivot their digital marketing strategies to stay relevant.
Explaining this shift towards digital platforms and marketplaces as it has occurred specifically in the UAE and across the larger GCC region, Hisham said: “The advancement in technologies such as 5G, AI, blockchain and automation have enabled a smoother transition to digital marketing across sectors. However, entrepreneurs must offer convenience, flexibility and transparency on their online platforms to attract traffic. They must consistently engage with their clientele through innovative, connected digital experiences to boost business growth and reinforce customer loyalty.”
Akthar added: “Entrepreneurs have to offer a friction-free browsing, shopping and post-purchase experience to attract a loyal clientele. You must understand what your consumers are looking for and learn about their passions, dislikes and challenges. Capitalise on this knowledge to build tailored content and engage with them across multiple channels. Optimise your website and update content regularly. Exceptional site functionality is key to outperforming competition.”
- Sajid Khan advised a back-to-basics approach while targeting consumers online. “Entrepreneurs have to be aware of their market and who they need to target. They should know the mindset of their audience and understand their needs fully. Without that knowledge, no amount of optimisation of your digital platform will work. You must also be able to differentiate between classes of online consumers to decide who your target audience is. For instance, the online consumer who frequents Instagram is very different from the consumer who does desktop shopping on Amazon. And smartphone shoppers are looking for a different shopping experience altogether. So, your digital strategy should depend on your customer. No one size fits all – different channels require different strategies to succeed.”
Saeed Ghanim Alsuwaidi, who launched his first e-commerce startup in 1998, said trust was the most important factor for success in selling online. “It all depends on who the consumer trusts and why. Transparency is key and should reflect right on your landing page. It is also important to be clear who your target audience is, as you choose your marketing channel. For instance, if you are targeting Emiratis then Instagram is the way to go.”
About utilising the services of social media influencers to increase traffic to websites, Alsuwaidi noted: “We cannot avoid using the services of influencers these days because of the huge following many of them command on social media. However, choose the right influencer for your product. The wrong person promoting your product can be a disaster.”
‘E-commerce and Digital Marketing’ is available in English and is one of the 21 courses offered for free by Badiri E-Academy. It can be accessed online at https://www.badiriacademy.org/courses.
The E-Academy mobile App, available on both Google Play and Apple stores, will enable you to access the course anytime, anywhere. Registration for the course is free.
Built on the Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) model in collaboration with technical partner, Fazinova, Badiri E-Academy’s free online learning platform offers courses that cover a spectrum of disciplines from business and entrepreneurship to culture, banking and self-improvement.