A new omni-channel experience in the Middle East

How does a growing brand navigate the logistical conundrum of not having a centralised warehouse – but still offer its customers a full and unified omnichannel experience?

 

This was one of the major hurdles to overcome for international fashion brand Diesel as it prepared to engage with consumers online in the Middle East for the first time.

Launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in early 2021, the digital commerce solution was the result of many months of hard work by Diesel’s partner in the Middle East, Beside Group, who partnered with SQLI, formerly Redbox Digital, on the project.

The site was built on Adobe Commerce, sitting on the global Diesel domain and managed end-to-end by Beside Group. It was a huge accomplishment for the Group to complete the implementation during a pandemic with only a small team working on it was.

However, for Beside Group’s Marketing & Ecommerce Director Tarek Barakat, it was the sourcing logic – an order management system custom-built by SQLI to fulfil their requirements – that helped pull everything together and deliver the superior customer experience they desired.
 

“The badge of having SQLI as an international player adds legitimacy to our own goals and a show of commitment that we are not willing to cut corners.”

Tarek Barakat Beside Group, Marketing director

A custom system unique to Diesel

“The sourcing logic is a really complicated piece of work but provided us with the flexibility to fulfil orders seamlessly from multiple stores,” Tarek said.

“Early on in this project, we decided to opt for an omnichannel approach that circumvented the need for a centralised warehouse. We source from our stores across the UAE and KSA, and this in itself presented us with a set of logistical and business rule challenges.

“But through a complex yet smart piece of middleware, our sourcing logic is able to incorporate many strands to ensure a smooth operation. This has enabled us to provide consumers with a true omnichannel experience including shopping online, click-and-collect, as well as having the flexibility to exchange or return items both online, or in any of our stores.

“The customer experience is very important to us. If a customer walks into a store and can’t find their size, we can direct them to find their size online and have it delivered to them.

“It’s a unique system we now have in operation, custom built for us – and kudos to SQLI for fulfilling these requirements.”

Dubai-based Beside Group is the Middle East partner of several European premium brands, with over 25 years’ experience in fashion retail and distribution.

Why SQLI and Adobe?

Beside Group approached SQLI in 2020 to partner with them on the Diesel build. They selected Adobe Commerce on which to build the site, due to its scalability and unrivalled customisation capabilities.

Tarek said: “SQLI came highly recommended to us after building a digital solution for a large pharmacy retailer in the region. The team has proved to be very knowledgeable, professional and accessible when required. For its size, they seem to be able to work on many accounts simultaneously.

“The badge of having SQLI as an international player adds legitimacy to our own goals and a show of commitment that we are not willing to cut corners.”

Any challenges along the way?

The build was not without its challenges. Difficulties navigating the pandemic lockdowns and time differences were just two of the problems the team had to overcome.

Tarek said: “Working with a team across different countries and time zones is always a challenge. We’re lucky in that SQLI has extensive experience in managing cross-border commerce projects so we knew we would be in good hands.”

Results since the launch

Just a few weeks after the launch in early 2021, Beside began to see some improvements to the Diesel site. Customer bounce rates were under 35 per cent and the average order rate was at 110 per cent of target, both of which pointed to early success from the implementation.

Tarek continued: “Initial feeling is very positive. We haven’t had any major breakdowns or issues and the speed is good. There are some optimisation issues, but nothing critical.

“Overall, it’s performing well, and the feedback is very positive. The look and feel of the site are exactly what we hoped for, and the experience is very similar to the international site, which Diesel is very happy with.”

Looking to the future

Beside Group’s next phase includes integrating its loyalty programme into the platform and launching Diesel in other markets across the region. The business also plans to continue its digital growth in the region, with a platform launch for fashion labels Fred Perry and Scotch & Soda.

Tarek added: Our Head Office is a 50-person team, and under 500 colleagues when you include regional stores and offices, which is a relatively compact-sized company. Yet when you walk into one of our brick-and-mortar stores or go to our online stores, you will experience the same quality you might have through the brand’s own channels. This is due to our unwavering commitment to the brand’s DNA and Beside’s very own high operating standards. At the end of the day, it’s our drive to continuously enrich our customer experience that inspires us, and this project is just another step in this process.”

You can explore the Diesel UAE and KSA website on ae.diesel.com and sa.diesel.com.

Profile

  • Industry: Luxury Fashion
  • Location: Middle East
  • Background: Beside Group has become the go-to partner for several international brands in the Middle East, thanks to a well-developed knowledge of the Retail and Distribution sectors. Through a wide regional reach, partners are ensured premium presence across the region.

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