The fashion industry in Dubai is huge. There’s no shortage of designer clothing labels and high-street fashion brands that keep the city’s population dressed to impress.
Statistics show that the retail industry was worth a whopping US$12 billion last year, and it's projected to reach a market volume of US$2,383 million by 2025. This means that the UAE retail industry is extremely competitive, so businesses must do their best to stand out in a saturated market.
Achieving an effective online presence is key to fashion brand success in today’s digital age. Consumers are embracing the ease and efficiency of e-commerce stores, particularly in light of the global pandemic. For this reason, digital marketing plays a crucial role in fashion business success in Dubai.
In this article, we take a look at the top five online fashion sites in Dubai and reveal some of their secrets to achieving an effective online presence. Let’s dive in.
Top 5 successful fashion online eCommerce sites in Dubai and how they use digital marketing effectively
Dubai’s fashionistas will love the huge range of budget apparel available on Namshi. This top Dubai eCommerce store stocks some of the hottest names in high-street fashion including TopShop, New Look, Forever 21, and more. For those seeking something a bit more high-end, Namshi also offers a selection of designer brands including DKNY, Calvin Klein, Steve Madden, and more. Namshi isn't just about clothing though, they also sell beauty items, skincare products, and even homeware.
So, what makes Namshi so successful?
First of all, their social media team is killing it!
Their Instagram page has amassed a following of over a million, and their focus is on increasing audience engagement by partnering with local and international influencers, running competitions where followers can win Namshi items, and they’ve even created a popular hashtag, #WeAreNamshi, that encourages people to share photos of themselves in Namshi apparel or at home with Namshi’s homeware products.
Around 80% of Namshi’s business is generated from mobile devices. In today’s digital age, people can shop on the go using the Namshi app on their smartphones. Therefore it was vital for Namshi to ensure their mobile app was fully functional and offered an easy, intuitive user experience. In an interview with Business Chief, Namshi’s marketing and brand director spoke about the brand’s emphasis on supporting a mobile audience:
“It's so vitally important for us. People here are consuming media on mobile faster than anybody else in the world, especially in Saudi Arabia. It's an interesting dynamic and something we're working hard on to tap into… From a technology point of view, the big leap forward was actually launching our app, we saw a huge step change in the size of the business when we did that.”
To succeed in a mobile-first world, Namshi first needed to understand the target audience they were marketing to. Their analytics data revealed that the majority of their audience was between 20 and 30 years old interested in fashion trends. When the pandemic hit, the brand knew they had to do something to engage with this audience to boost the success of their eCommerce store.
One problem they encountered was the initial reluctance of UAE audiences to buy online. This was mainly due to the huge mall culture that exists in this part of the world, as well as a lack of trust when it comes to sharing credit card details online. One method Namshi used to overcome these hurdles was to accept cash on delivery. They also began to build trust among their audience by building a website and social media presence that emphasized the safety of shopping online with them. How? They made it their goal to generate quality website visits that offered a comprehensive shopping experience for users while upping their omni-channel customer service approach to ensure customers felt that they were getting the service they expected.
Another thing that makes Namshi so successful is that they’re a local company that speaks its audience’s language. Despite there being plenty of international eCommerce sites that ship to the UAE, not all of them offer a browsing experience in the Arabic language. Namshi was able to maximize its presence in Dubai and the UAE’s other emirates by localizing its website. Smith added, “I'm very much a believer in localization, being understanding and respectful of local traditions, but we also want to create one brand and have one voice.”
2. Souq.com (acquired by Amazon)
Souq.com is another popular eCommerce platform that offers a huge range of products including fashion, electronics, toys, and much more. The brand was acquired by Amazon in 2017 and now operates under Amazon.ae, offering free shipping on many items and daily deals to attract savvy shoppers. Amazon is the largest eCommerce in the UAE, and caters to thousands of sellers, and attracts over 39 million consumers each month.
Shoppers can browse Amazon via their flagship website and mobile app, which now contributes to 70% of their sales. First launched as an auction site (like eBay), the brand diversified its operations with automobile and real estate verticals. In 2010, the team at Souq began to realize that their potential for growth was limited as the Arab world became increasingly mobile. In 2012, they launched their mobile app to reach a growing audience of mobile shoppers. Back then, mobile shopping wasn’t what it is today!
Souq’s main marketing strategy focuses on building a cohesive and effective user experience across their desktop and mobile sites. They focus on logistics and shipping to ensure customers receive goods quickly while offering different payment methods (like cash on delivery) to appeal to a wide audience of Arab countries. Since the brand is owned by Amazon, it doesn’t need to do much in the way of digital marketing to continue attracting a wide audience.
In 2014, before Amazon’s acquisition, Souq brought America’s famous “Black Friday” holiday to the Arab world, coining it instead “White Friday” to show respect for Friday’s holy status in Muslim cultures.
Amazon.ae has a strong online presence, using their social media platforms to share daily deals on new products, as well as adorable photos of cats in Amazon product boxes!
Sivvi is another fashion powerhouse eCommerce operating in Dubai and the UAE. They stock a range of huge fast fashion brands like Nike and Mango, as well as upmarket designer items from the likes of Calvin Klein, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and so on. Along with apparel, they also provide a huge selection of beauty products.
In a 2020 press release, Serene Farah, VP Growth & Digital Strategy for SIVVI, said:
“We have placed the customer at the heart of our business. The SIVVI rebrand, including product assortment, user experience, and brand direction have all been deliberately designed to connect directly with our target customer base in the GCC.”
The brand’s marketing strategy focuses on increasing user engagement with a trendy aesthetic and providing an effective mobile app to attract an audience of young, fashion-conscious shoppers.
With the customer at the heart of their business strategy, SIVVI aims to provide customers with high-quality fashion at affordable prices to elevate the fashion industry in the UAE. A same-day shipping initiative launched in Dubai means that SIVVI shoppers can receive their order in just 3 hours! This was a huge incentive for shoppers to turn to SIVVI, especially during the pandemic where the city’s beloved malls were closed for business. As part of its marketing strategy, SIVVI uses local imagery to appeal to its local audience and has leveraged a team of tech experts to renovate the on-site and in-app shopping experience to provide a seamless customer journey.
They’re also big on social media, attracting and engaging users with influencer edits, reels, and IGTV channels exploring the latest fashion trends in the Arab world.
Retold is an eCommerce with a slightly different agenda. Along with a physical store in Dubai, the Retold website makes it easy for sustainable and fashion-conscious shoppers to buy online. Retold sells a huge selection of pre-loved clothes, targeting an audience of conscious shoppers who want to do their part to help the planet while boycotting the fast-fashion industry. Shoppers can also sell their own clothes to the store for credit, which can then be used to purchase new second-hand clothes and accessories.
Central to Retold’s business goals and strategies is its mission to reduce the UAE’s carbon footprint. They want to help customers lead a sustainable lifestyle while doing their part for the planet. This mission is woven throughout the brand’s digital strategies and influences how they engage and interact with customers online.
In an interview with Authority Magazine, Retold’s founder Sian Rowlands had this to say:
“When I first started, I was driven because I saw a viable way to fill a gap in the market here in Dubai. I wasn’t entirely reinventing the wheel, merely adapting concepts I had seen all over the world to suit the Dubai market. But I started the business because I cared — I cared about the amount of unworn clothes there were hanging in my (and my friends’) wardrobes. And over the years of running the business, I became increasingly aware of how important it was to raise awareness about the dark side of the fashion industry (particularly fast fashion), and how important it was to show people how easily you can transition to a greener lifestyle.”
Retold attract and nurture customers with a content marketing strategy that aims to educate customers about sustainable fashion and seasonal trends. They run a regularly updated blog and have a strong Instagram presence where they share influencer edits, photos of items available in-store and online, and they also use the social media platform to advertise in-store events like sales and flea markets. Additionally, shoppers can join the Retold mailing list to be the first to know about big sales, seasonal trends, and more.
Ounass is another popular online destination for fashion-forward Arabs. The eCommerce platform offers a huge collection of luxury designer clothing, shoes, beauty, homeware, and gift items. Ounass stocks the widest range of designer brands in the UAE, including the likes of Prada, Fendi, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, and many more. Shoppers in Dubai can enjoy two-hour delivery, while those located within the UAE can benefit from same-day delivery.
Their content strategy involves regularly updating their website with inspiring fashion edits and how-to guides that allow users to read and shop at the same time. Another section of their website “Influencer Closets” provides exclusive insights into the wardrobes of the UAE’s top influencers.
Customers can shop through their social media platforms, with eCommerce available on Facebook and Instagram. Moreover, they offer omni-channel customer support to further streamline the customer journey. Their Instagram bio encourages followers to tag their product purchases with the #MyOunass hashtag, and they also use the platform to provide followers with behind-the-scenes footage of Dubai fashion shows, live offers, and sustainable fashion and beauty tips.
Ready to start creating an effective online presence for your Dubai fashion website?
In an increasingly digital and technology-reliant world, if your business doesn’t have a successful online presence then you’re simply not going to make it. Ensuring your brand’s website, blog, and social media pages provide a seamless user experience that encourages engagement and boosts sales is essential.
Your customers and brand mission and values should be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy. Once you know what your customers expect from your business and how you can best cater to their fashion needs, you can tailor your digital marketing strategies to best capture their attention.
Not sure how digital marketing can benefit your fashion eCommerce? We can help. Book a free consultation today!