The shopping landscape is changing every minute. As the pandemic hit, the shopping trends gradually leaned towards ‘shopkeepers’ knocking at our doorsteps — from salon-at-home to now, even coffee arriving in a C-wagon with a barista and a ‘wardrobe’ bus arriving at a place of our choice to scour through a range of bags and shoes. However, the pandemic has not been the only dominant factor driving our recent shopping behaviours. Technology and social media have become a large part of understanding the evolving trends, suggest the industry experts. Whilst a few months ago, we took note of the grocery-delivery apps ensuring convenience and safety, it is now no surprise that from makeup artists to even fresh meat from artisan butchers are landing at our doorsteps and how.
Imagine a fashion closet —read: bus — driving to your doorstep, featuring handpicked styles as per your liking and even shoes just in your size. INSTARUNWAY, a concept that features global luxury fashion brands like SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker and Furla, is the city’s latest private shopping concept with a bus arriving at your doorstep. “People do not anticipate the space required to make room for the bus. It is a big ‘pinch-me’ moment where customers tell you how much they love the experience and did not think it would actually be a display within the bus,” adds Samara Punjabi, CEO, INSTARUNWAY. As an add-on, you can even book yourself a high-tea after shopping with Shangri-La Dubai and Abu Dhabi to make it a fashionable outing.
New trends courtesy of the pandemic
As the name reflects, INSTARUNWAY seeks to elevate and transform the shopping landscape for luxury brands in the region through an exclusive runway on wheels. Samara Punjabi, chief executive officer, INSTARUNWAY, says, “Needless to say, when the world turned upside down following the pandemic, there were times when we wondered if people would be willing to receive the concept during such a point of turmoil. However, taking that foundation and developing a structured yet retained shopping experience in an opulent setting helped bring it to fruition.”
Now imagine this! The Intellect C-Wagon is a literal coffee shop that comes to the comfort of your doorstep. It comes fully equipped with certified baristas, state-of-the-art coffee equipment and brewtiful locally roasted coffee beans. The car allows for private events at the comfort of your home, which also works well with the protocols we all need to take for the pandemic. “It’s been two years now since the pandemic and it seems everything is somehow linked to Covid-19. It would be a lie to say it’s not related because we all have changed the way we think, hence unconsciously perhaps the idea was born from there, but mainly it’s to offer that unique experience and have direct contact with our consumers,” says Gabriela Cury, general manager, Intellect Coffee.
“The pandemic caused difficulties for the business. Salons were shut down and home services were also not permitted for some time, therefore there was no way of being able to provide any service. We also have the B2B division and all the events were cancelled/postponed, so the opportunities were halted. I feel grateful to say that we survived and the future is here!” recalls Haifa Addas, chief executive officer, INSTAGLAM, an online beauty service that aspires to revolutionise the way beauty services (makeup, hair, body care, nails, etc.) were initially used. This is done by connecting beauty brands to professionals and to customers.
Online shopping is so normal that brands have to work in tandem with consumers
“When speaking about the future, now more than ever, we can and should invite our consumers to constantly work in tandem to understand how they want to shop and the most feasible way to get it through shopping in the metaverse, pushing the shopping experience and virtual spaces inhibiting digital imagination to real-life commodities,” adds Samara. “By now, everyone is fully aware of the rapid changes the retail industry experienced in the last few years. Online shopping is so normal that brands and companies are required to come up with new ideas to stand out. Tailormade home services will continue to improve, offering the customers better experiences,” says Gabriela.
What are the trends to watch out for?
As far as trends go, one can safely say it did start with CAFU mobile car services in the UAE, helping one break free from the petrol station, with fuel brought to us, anytime, anywhere. Gabriela says in this case, the wagon allows our end-users to experience our products, directly from the roastery to their home. “I believe that e-commerce/application shopping will continue to grow and become the dominant space for services, especially those that are affordable and convenient. People want on-demand access and we are now seeing application services provide this directly and smoothly,” says Haifa. Personal shopping with database information and pop-ups will rule, with a focus on the local, community feel. Food Crowd, UAE’s all-new platform delivers food products (fruits and vegetables, dairy, grocery, fresh meats and beverages), from the farm to our homes and has been created by experts in agriculture from Abu Dhabi. A brainchild of experts from Al Dahra Agriculture, one of the region’s leaders in agribusiness, they connect farmers and local suppliers directly to customers.
Innovate to bring in the sales
Hosting a BBQ at home? Let homegrown artisan butcher, The Meat Avenue, step in. They recently expanded their delivery fleet in response to demand for at-home delivery of premium meats across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, offering a range of high-grade meat cuts. They even offer full-fledged catering services, including live cooking stations. Samara advises one to think about concepts that offer an emotional connection. “Work on ensuring a lasting experience, whether it’s appreciating the craftsmanship, reaching new audiences or creating memories,” she says.
How much time does a typical shopper spend in a bus versus a store versus an app or online?
Samara says that the clients spend close to an hour or so in the bus. Gabriela adds how the C-wagon timelines depend on if it’s a dial a coffee service or a private event; the time for events is between one and three hours which can vary from 20 to 100 drinks respectively, whilst dial a coffee service is a tailormade order, so your espresso or cappuccino is freshly made once we are at your home. Meanwhile, a typical client can enjoy longer ‘salon’ hours at home as it does not involve a commute, parking and waiting for the professional to be ready when you get there.
On-demand glam-up services
INSTAGLAM provides on-demand beauty services directly at your doorstep. A carefully selected team of professionals offer each customer with the right beauty needs. With as little as a three-hour lead time, you can book an appointment at any desired time, place and day.
Priding itself on offering a personalised service, The Meat Avenue has traditional and custom cuts available, including grass-fed and grain-fed beef, dry-aged beef, quality fresh lamb and hormone-free chicken, all of which are sourced from reputable farmers in Australia, New Zealand, USA, and South Africa, among others, and can be delivered straight at your doorstep at competitive prices. The Meat Avenue covers everything from set-up and staffing to food delivery, preparation and service – taking the stress away from any event.
Food Crowd is a community grocery store/app that offers consumers access to locally sourced, farmhouse products, such as dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood and other items that have been handpicked with strict quality control.
Café on wheels
The Intellect Coffee wagon shows up with their entire espresso menu or you can book them for a private event and they block off the time just for you. “Due to the strong competition existing in the UAE market, we understood that something unique was required to stand out. Our C-wagon allows us to be in contact with the consumers and receive direct feedback while not being permanently a coffee shop, which eventually feels like a clash with our own wholesale clients,” says Gabriela Cury, general manager, Intellect Coffee. The C-wagon visits all emirates with a varying minimum spend (ranging between Dh600 and Dh1,500). The service includes a customised and fully equipped C-Wagon, a dedicated and experienced barista and the best coffee drinks menu. Clients can buy not only readymade drinks but also the coffee beans the drinks are made of.
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