How can you ensure your SME keeps pace with the latest digital developments?

The ‘Internet of Things’ is rapidly becoming reality; digital devices are connecting every aspect of life; and the UAE is leading global trends. It’s safe to say that the new connected world is where today’s UAE businesses need to exist.
If your SME sells directly to consumers, you absolutely have to be at its leading edge. We’ve compiled some trends that will help inform you in achieving that. And even if your SME isn’t a direct seller, or even a B2C organisation, you still need to connect with audiences in this world.
The key thing to be aware of is the fact that the UAE is one of the world’s most connected societies. For example, nearly 73% of the population will use a mobile phone in 2015, eMarketer estimates. This makes us #1 for mobile phone user penetration in the MENA region, and among the top nations on the planet.

While we lead here, areas where we previously lagged behind are now rapidly closing too. For example, online shopping is on its way to becoming as popular here as elsewhere. A 2014 survey by MasterCard found that popular activities in the region include buying airline tickets, booking hotels and shopping for home appliances. Half of online shoppers in the UAE now use the internet for these. Factors behind the boom include the increasing availability of mobile apps, and the ability to shop ‘on the go’. Online shopping decisions among UAE consumers mainly depend on a website’s reputation, the security of payment and low delivery charges. When asked how online shopping could improve in the future, nearly 60% of UAE consumers vote for free or minimal delivery charges, followed by eliminating additional service charges and complete assurance of security.
Mobile shopping is on an equally sharp incline. Recent research from PayPal and Ipsos shows that, globally, it’s growing nearly three times faster than overall ecommerce. Not only that, but the UAE leads the way. Emirati online shoppers attribute 24% of their online spend to smartphone purchases, Chinese consumers follow at 21% and Turks come third at 19%. So make sure your ecommerce platform scales for any device – from a laptop to smart watch, and everything in between.

Even if you’re not retailing online, you need customers of every type to be able to find you, interact with you and engage with your offering. This means exploring techniques beyond a conventional ‘online brochure’ website. For example:
– Use augmented reality to truly bring your products/services to life.
– Maintain a genuinely active social media presence. This pretty much means having someone dedicated to this role, to avoid the negative impression of a lapsed or inactive presence.
– Commission a company to ‘reskin’ a standard app to create something that feels bespoke to you. Even if it’s for relatively simple tasks such as enabling customers to track orders, communicating in this way gives the impression of a connected, cutting edge organization.

Our top tips

  • Offer phenomenal customer experiences.
  • Break through a crowded marketplace with a strong digital presence.
  • If selling online, provide a level of security and privacy that inspires consumer trust.


“The opinions expressed within this article are generic. Mashreq is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information on this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of Mashreq. Mashreq does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.”