The electronics retailer Sharaf DG unveiled its revamped Dubai flagship store on Wednesday designed to integrate its digital and in-store offerings as it expands its presence across the UAE.
The Times Square outlet underwent a three-month refurbishment at “significant investment” as Sharaf DG develops its omni-channel retail concept – where the brick-and-mortar operation works hand-in-hand with mobile and online, said Nilesh Khalkho, the retailer’s chief executive.
“We realised that online sales are becoming a huge opportunity. Our online sales grew by a multiple of 10 last year, and we could not afford to miss it,” said Mr Khalkho. “The online sales are not cannibalising our existing business. It is new business.”
Its updated mobile app allows “totally transparent” online price comparison with competing retailers, he said.
While the Sharaf DG boss was reticent to say what returns he expected from the shift into e-tail, he referenced Home Depot, the US home improvement retailer, as a yardstick. The do-it-yourself store has raised its online sales by 40 per cent with a strategy that uses the web and mobile devices to extend the store aisle to consumers, wherever they are, and depends on a flexible supply chain that can deliver products to customers either in-store or to their homes.
Sharaf DG will be opening three further branches in the UAE this year to be used as fulfilment centres – one in Dubai, one in Ras Al Khaimah and the third in a location still to be decided.
Its strategy could give the retailer a “first-mover advantage” according to one industry expert.
“Electronics retailing is a very difficult business because the margins are very low, so the volumes have to be high,” said David Macadam, the chief executive of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres.
“The investment proves what a step forward this is for the store. It will have first-mover advantage with its coverage of the UAE and, assuming its mobile app works seamlessly, with a real-time price comparison it will be one of the first places people go to look for products.
“The US has shown that a true omni-channel retailer can leave the competition behind.”
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