The 10th annual Middle East Retail Academy (MERA) Awards took place on May 9th in Dubai, in conjunction with regional consumer tech channel event DISTREE Middle East 2017. The MERA Awards included a series of initiative categories, with retailers, distributors and vendors submitting detailed application packs that were assessed by a VIP Jury. There was also an individual award for a retail executive – chosen by the VIP Jury – who has played a pivotal role in driving the growth and evolution of the consumer tech retail channel in the Middle East.
The 10th Anniversary MERA Icon Award was presented to Rahul Anand, Head of Merchandise at Carrefour, recognising his outstanding long-term contribution to the hypermarket’s growth and its status as one of the Middle East’s major retail channels for consumer tech products.
Stuart Wilson, organiser of the MERA Awards, commented: “There is a strong consumer tech channel community in the Middle East that unites retailers, e-tailers, distributors and vendors, who all work together to grow the market. Rahul Anand is a key member of this community, a consummate professional in his field, and a worthy winner of the 10th Anniversary MERA Icon Award, as selected by the VIP Jury.”
For the initiative categories, the In-Store Experience of the Year Award was won by Sharaf DG for its Ibn Battuta mall store in Dubai. The store represents an evolution from a big box concept to become an omnichannel destination, blending physical and digital to create compelling consumer experiences. Sharaf DG refers to the store as ‘retail theatre’ with digital screens, product vending machines, staff equipped with digital sales tools on tablets, plus a lounge area. The store’s success has been demonstrated by significant increases in conversion rates and basket value.
Kuwait’s Alghanim (X-cite) took home the Marketing Initiative of the Year Award for its highly successful ’Secret Deals’ Programme. The campaign featured ‘Secret Deal’ buttons online that encouraged consumer to sign up for an account or sign in to view exclusive special offers such as price discounts, additional free product bundles, or coupons for discounts on related products. Online shoppers signing up or signing in to view ‘Secret Deals’ viewed three times as may pages as the average shopper session, spent five times longer on the site than the average session duration, and the e-commerce conversion rate for ‘Secret Deal’ sessions was six times higher than the site average.
The Customer Promotion of the Year Award went to Lulu Oman for its aggressive Buy Two Get One Free promotion on selected IT and electronics products, which resulted in a significant spike in both foot traffic and sales volumes. The one-day special sales event that involved buying two products and getting one product free, which took place on September 24th, 2016. The promotion resulted in sales ten times greater than an average day, exceeding the retailer’s expectations. Footfall was three times the daily average. Lulu Oman also saw a 5% incremental increase in footfall post-promotion.
Egyptian distributor KMG collected the Product Launch of the Year Award for taking Meizu smartphones to market in Egypt and building consumer awareness through a variety of innovative marketing methods. KMG started Meizu’s launch with an event at the pyramids in Cairo, followed by a roadshow and various shopping malls and sporting events. The company addressed all market segments including organised retailers, independent retailers, online and operators. KMG also organised a strong launch through Souq.com in Egypt.
Wilson continued: “The quality of entries for the initiative awards was exceptionally high this year. With winning entries from Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE, it is clear that there is a wealth of consumer tech retail channel expertise across the region. The retail channel is becoming more sophisticated in terms of assisting vendors and increasing consumer sellout through multiple channels, driven by advanced sales and marketing strategies.”
DISTREE Middle East 2017 was supported by Gold Sponsors Lime Concepts and TargetOne, plus Event Partners GfK, IE Singapore and Naghsh. Content Providers at this year’s event included Azur Digital, CONTEXT, GfK and Sixthfactor.