The first-ever Meet Magento in the Middle East is being hailed as one of the best Meet Magento events this year, with more than 600 merchants, business owners, agencies, technology providers and innovators through the door over the two days. Day one was dedicated to merchants and business owners, while day two focused on developers and technology providers.
Jonty Sutton, CEO and founder of Redbox Digital and organizers of the event, kicked off proceedings talking about the state of the e-commerce market in the Middle East. He believes that the region is at a “turning point”, with major players making significant investment in early-phase commerce and seeing net impact despite the likes of Noon and Amazon challenging the market. He went on to say that macro trends in retail are negative, but digital commerce and omnichannel customer experiences are driving growth for traditional brands.
Gary Specter, VP sales and customer success at Magento, was next on stage to talk about “experience-driven content”. His view is that brands today are built on end-to-end experiences: beautiful curated content with Amazon efficiency. What this means is:
PayPal’s head of market development ME and North Africa, Tahir Emrah Tuzun, spoke about the opportunities that exist for businesses in the Middle East to leverage cross-border ecommerce saying cross-border ecommerce will double that of global commerce. He pointed to the fact that 89% of PayPal U.A.E. merchants sell cross-border to 175 countries.
Firas Moazzen is the ecommerce manager at Abdul Samad Al Qurashi (ASQ), a Redbox customer and one of the biggest manufacturers of perfumes and OUD across the globe. Firas spoke about ASQ’s ecommerce journey, which started in December 2013 on Magento. Since then, the company has added eight new regional websites in KSA, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Oman, U.S.A, Canada, Russia and the global site. Firas talked candidly about why he opted for Magento Enterprise citing extensive ‘out-of-box” features such as loyalty programs and multi-website support; flexible customization; support for integration with ERP, third-party apps and payment gateways; and extensive support from its implementation partner, Redbox Digital.
There were many other great presentations throughout the day from the likes of Facebook, KPMG, Sell Any Home, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Landmark Group, Sprii, Ernstand Young, HMD Global, Noor Bank, AW Rostamani Group, Chalhoub Group, Kamal Osman Jamjoom and Magento.
Day 2 continued in a similar vein, with visitors flooding through the doors to hear presentations and panel discussions from technology thought-leaders and experts from the developer community.
Ben Marks, Magento evangelist, spoke about Magento’s roadmap – particularly poignant given Adobe’s recent acquisition of Magento. Ben led a panel discussion with product and digital experts from UM Mena, Algorythma and Sahem.ae on how data science is transforming web development. A discussion that was well received by the audience.
Tom Karwatka, CEO Divante – a development house specializing in product design and UX -spoke extensively about how progressive web apps (PWA) is changing the face of ecommerce, something retailers shouldn’t ignore. PWAs combine everything that’s good about native mobile applications with everything that’s good about a mobile site to deliver a better and faster user experience. Brands such as Debenhams, Twitter, Uber and Starbucks are already seeing benefit from the use of the technology. This year, Magento launched a PWA Studio in April to help retailers develop PWAs.
Later in the day, Henryk Fiedler, senior solutions consultant at Magento, spoke about Magento’s Order Management Solution. Incidentally, Redbox Digital are the only credited Magento Order Management Solutions partner!
Throughout the two days, visitors were given ample opportunity to mingle, network, learn, as well as visit the sponsor stands and sponsor representatives - PayPal, ShipperHQ, Vaimo, Algolia, Forbes Middle East, Astound, Dev Team, Alrais Labsand Snowdog. Feedback has been incredibly positive from delegates, speakers and sponsors alike.
All-in-all a great success for a first event in the region. Do Redbox Digital plan to be back in Dubai next year? Maybe, watch this space…!