x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Three down, more to go: UAE's Landmark adding stores online

Landmark Group pushes with online strategy. But rate at which online outlets sell goods is still low.

The UAE's Landmark Group is looking to boost its online sales by introducing more of its brands and shops to the Middle East e-commerce market.

The company, which in December launched e-commerce sites for three of its retail brands, Emax, Babyshop and Splash, is focusing on the online world to drive growth.

"The plan is to put all our retail businesses online," said Savitar Jagtiani, the business head of e-commerce at the Landmark Group on the sidelines of the Arabnet Digital Summit in Beirut.

"We are in it for the long run. It is about growing the online side in parallel with the offline. We have 17 retail businesses and 25 customer facing brands in total and we've taken the first three online right now." Landmark Group has 1,500 stores across 19 territories with brands such as Centrepoint, Iconic and Home Centre under its umbrella.

About 20 per cent of the traffic to the chain's three websites comes via Facebook and the company is keen to integrate social media into its online strategy.

The conversion rate - that is, the number of people who visit the site and buy a product - is still low for Landmark Group.

"The most successful internet retailers have a conversion rate of 3.22 per cent for 2012-2013 and that is definitely an aspirational conversion rate to work towards to over time," Mr Jagtiani said.

Currently the three websites are available only to customers in the UAE, but the group has plans to open them up to a wider regional audience.

"One of the pan-regional challenges is methods of payment. Online payment in some countries is not as popular and cash on delivery is more dominant, which has its own risks," Mr Jagtiani said.

Return rates for goods bought through an online transaction are about 2 per cent at the moment, whereas return rates for cash-on-delivery items can be as high as 20 per cent.

thamid@thenational.ae