The regional e-commerce sector is booming, driven by a young tech-savvy population, high internet penetration, a 360-degree product suite, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The numbers add up: In the first five months of 2020, the UAE saw a 300 per cent increase in demand for e-commerce services among consumers. In May 2020 alone, e-commerce represented the highest number of licences issued to any business sector. Overall, the GCC’s e-commerce market is expected to be worth roughly $50bn by 2025, according to a report by Kearney Middle East.

Although the sector is booming, we have also seen e-commerce players shut down in the last year. So how can startups enter and prosper in the e-commerce space? And for existing retailers and brands, how can they successfully integrate e-commerce into their operations to ensure profitability?
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From having an enabling ecosystem and ensuring a smooth supply chain, to understanding financing and adopting digital payments, we discuss some of the key areas to focus on when looking to create a profitable e-commerce business in Dubai.

Join us as we explore the future of e-commerce.

Date: May 31, 2021
Time: 3pm

Deepak Chandran, Senior Vice President, Emirates NBD

A seasoned retail banker with over 18 years of managerial and leadership experience, ranging from conception to delivery of products and services, Deepak Chandran currently lead the Cards business for Emirates NBD. 

He has successfully handled roles in various business functions including Retail Back Office, Business Planning and Analysis as well as Product and Portfolio Management. He possesses in-depth understanding of operations, risk management and technology as well as product and portfolio management strategies.

DeVere Forster, COO, Dubai CommerCity

DeVere Forster holds over two decades of experience in e-commerce, making him a pioneer in the industry. He has spearheaded the digital transformation of various prominent global companies across multiple continents including Dixons Stores Group, Best Buy, Al Shaya, Al Futtaim and Central Group.

In his last role as president and group executive director of Omnichannel for Central Group, a retail conglomerate based in Bangkok, deVere was responsible for an increase of over 2000 per cent in the group's e-commerce revenues. 

With a proven track record of exponentially enhancing e-commerce revenues in each of the executive roles he has undertaken, deVere has now joined Dubai CommerCity, the first dedicated e-commerce free zone in MENASA, as its Chief Operating Officer. DeVere aims to position the unique smart city within Dubai as the desired e-commerce destination for regional and global players looking to start or expand their e-commerce operations.

Pankaj Aasthana, VP - Digital Payments & Labs, Mastercard MENA

Pankaj joined Mastercard in 2015 and comes with nearly 20 years’ experience in payment networks, corporate banking and international remittances, having worked earlier with companies like Bank of America, Visa and Western Union.
In his current role, Pankaj’s responsibilities include accelerating the adoption of digital payment technologies like contactless, e-commerce, QR, remittances and network tokenization, building fintech community partnerships and exploring the commercial applicability of concepts like Blockchain and Open Banking for banks, merchants and government.

Pankaj has been closely involved in driving the rapid adoption of contactless payments in markets like UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and has championed the proliferation of mobile based tokenized payments, including the launch of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay amongst others in the region. His markets have also led Mastercard’s foray into remittances and QR payments. Pankaj has two patents that power Mastercard’s QR and in-app payment solution.

Pankaj joined Mastercard in 2015 and comes with nearly 20 years’ experience in payment networks, corporate banking and international remittances, having worked earlier with companies like Bank of America, Visa and Western Union.

Ben Mclean, Head of e-commerce UAE, DHL Express 

Ben’s role at DHL Express is to guide and equip its commercial organization, enabling customers to unlock their potential to enable growth by opening up new sales channels and entering into new markets, with an end goal of taking them global.

He has been with DHL for 25 years, having worked both in Europe and the Middle East in a number of different operational, commercial and leadership roles. In his words: “I am very proud that I have been able to contribute to the local e-commerce industry, helping many businesses to establish themselves and subsequently progress.”

David Ndichu
Aarti Nagraj | Editor, Gulf Business

A seasoned journalist and editor, Aarti Nagraj has worked for news organisations in Dubai and India for over 14 years now. With experience across all media platforms including print, digital, radio and TV, she has covered a wide range of economic and social issues across sectors, interviewed top CEOs and handled breaking news situations. She has been with Gulf Business for over nine years.

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