DUBAI — Al Tayer Insignia is launching a new digital retail concept called Nisnass, WWD has exclusively learned.
The project is the first of its kind for the region — it will launch first via mobile app on January 29 and targets Generation Z and Millennials with women’s, men’s, kids’, home and beauty collections ranging in price from $30 to $300.
The mobile-focused project is a nod to the future of retail, Khalid Al Tayer, chief executive officer of Al Tayer Insignia, told WWD. “Our region has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world,” he said. “The UAE ranks number one globally in smartphone penetration with 74 percent of the population carrying them. Recognizing this trend, we focused our efforts in delivering an exceptional mobile experience to our customers.”
Nisnass will initially only be accessible via a state-of-the-art mobile app that promises to be very customer-centric with features such as visual search technology giving shoppers the ability to take a picture of an item and then search the app for a match. The app will also personalize customer experience by leveraging visual and voice searches to offer recommendations and curated product selections based on individual tastes and habits.
Nisnass is building on the success of Al Tayer’s first e-commerce platform, Ounass, which launched last year. While Ounass aims to be the definitive luxury destination, Al Tayer described Nisnass as being young, fresh and curated for a different audience.
“Nisnass is positioned to meet the demands of a lifestyle shopping experience with an offering for women, men, kids, beauty and home,” he said. It will build upon the strengths of Ounass, which has found success in its customer service, particularly the express two-hour delivery promise for customers within Dubai. Nisnass will offer the same.
While Nisnass offers products at a lower price point than Ounass, Al Tayer said the customer is not entirely different than that for the luxury offerings. “We believe customers will shop both platforms to satisfy their different desires and needs,” he said.
Eda Kuloglu, Al Tayer’s chief merchandising officer for digital and department stores, and her team sourced over 200 brands from all over the world with the aim of offering a product mix that addresses the desire to be on trend at an accessible price. Nisnass will have mainstays like Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Puma as well as Storets, Style Keepers, Kendall + Kylie, Dedicated, Champion, Only and Jack & Jones.
“The Middle East is home to some of the most sophisticated teen and young adult customers who are social media savvy and are always looking for the latest ‘it’ item or brand, which can sometimes be hard to source,” Kuloglu said.
She has led buying for the Al Tayer Group for 14 years, and launched department stores Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s in the region. Nisnass is a project unlike the others, she said. She found her core focus group right at home with her 19-year-old daughter, who for years had been scouring the Internet for Australian or British brands and shipping them to the Middle East.
Online data has helped validate what Al Tayer Group was seeing happening in shopping trends. The decision to launch Nisnass with a mobile app was based on the retailer’s experience in the market — consumers search and within a few clicks want to find and purchase the item. “Over 70 percent of our traffic comes from mobile devices and we see this trend continuing to strengthen,” said Al Tayer.
Nisass’ Android app will launch in February and desktop in March. The site will cater to the Middle East but Al Tayer also sees big opportunities for other points of distribution such as Africa.
The last year-and-a-half has seen a sharp increase in digital shopping offerings in the region. Aside from regionally based businesses, Net-a-porter will soon be launching on the ground under a new joint venture with Symphony Investments and retailers like Al Tayer, which has a long history of operating in the region, are well prepared to compete.
“The digital journey is always filled with surprises as consumers adapt to new technologies and change their behavior and expectations. The key to remaining relevant is to always be data driven and agile enough to change course when required,” Al Tayer said.