Deepak Babani, the Executive Vice Chairman of Eros Group, speaks about how tech shopping has changed in recent years
How has the technology/consumer electronics buying experience changed in recent months? Do you see more people buying online or offline from tech retail stores?
At Eros Group we always aim to provide a delightful experience to customers whether in-store, online or after-sales service. At Eros, we had already begun strengthening our online business strategy even before the pandemic hit.
Today, we have in place a thriving and engaging digital platform where consumers can browse and buy with ease. The impact of e-commerce on the sector has been substantial with many consumers exploring and experiencing online shopping for the first time, overcoming mindset barriers of setting up online accounts and making digital or online payments, and beginning to trust this way of shopping. While we are boosting our in-shop presence we are creating better avenues for touch-less shopping as digital adoption is here to stay.
In the end, our motto is to fulfill customer expectations and during the past 12 months, we have strengthened & added new members to our call center team to enhance our customer experience. We increased our online presence by adding new brands, line-ups to our eCommerce portal. The after-sales service team also extended its efforts to help customers.
Do brand stores still add value to the overall shopping experience?
Brick-and-mortar retail dominated the high street, but, with the invention of the internet, a whole new paradigm of sales and marketing changed the retail industry completely. Nowadays, brick-and-mortar retail is at risk of falling behind as e-commerce continues to grow exponentially. There is also the social aspect of shopping to consider.
People crave human interaction, and as the world becomes more digital, sometimes that reaction comes from talking with a sales associate in the store. Shopping is a social experience, and nothing can re-create wandering through a store with friends. No amount of technology can ever replace human touch and interaction.
As stores move online, the e-commerce world could become increasingly competitive, which would drive more stores back to the physical space to take advantage of cheap real estate. The cycle could take 10 to 20 years to unfold, but it is a definite possibility. Perhaps the most likely scenario is a blend of these two ideas—more integration between the physical retail and e-commerce spaces.
Technology will play a new role and allow customers to see and try items before they make a purchase. An eCommerce platform can host unlimited brands and products while store cannot BUT on another hand a store can act as a pick-up or delivery point for eCommerce orders plus customers can always touch and feel the product in the store.
If you were to list out the top five factors that people look for while shopping for tech products/consumer electronics/home appliances, what would those be?
The most important factor for buying any electronic products would be:
- Genuine brand/stock/authorized distributor
- After-Sales Service
How high do people rate after-sales service these days?
After-sales service is one of the most important and integral parts of the electronics industry. It plays an important role in customer satisfaction and customer retention. It generates loyal customers and increases brand value. People often change their buying decisions basis after-sales service and warranty on the product, especially when it comes to large or medium sizes appliances and gadgets as well. Therefore, after-sales service is of vital importance for a satisfied and happy customer that eventually brings in more revenue to the organization for a long time.
Using Gaming as a Tool to Engage, Educate, and Inspire Action
Matt Dalio, the CEO of Endless Studios, speaks about the ‘Game On for Climate Change’ program, how his company is contributing to the UAE’s goal of creating 30,000 jobs in the gaming sector, and how gaming is being used as a tool to address global environmental challenges
Can you elaborate on how the ‘Game On for Climate Change’ program aligns with the UAE’s vision for the gaming industry and its role in economic diversification?
There are two levels at which I can answer that question. The first is the bigger picture that we are working towards. Economic diversification will come from talent development. Countries like Singapore and Switzerland have one thing in common: they invest in their talent. The result was that they each took a country without any natural resources and turned it into a hub. The trajectory of the UAE, as is the case for every country, will be determined by its people.
If its people are to build a better, more economically diverse UAE, its youth need to be trained in the disciplines that will drive growth in the decades to come. Those are technology skills. This is only becoming more important each year, with AI and the increasing pace of innovation. It’s essential to train youth in those technology skills.
We believe that the best way to do that is through their interest. If they are interested in something, they will work hard on it. If they work hard on it, they will get good at it. We see a clear interest in gaming, with the average student spending more than 10,000 hours in games. We want to harness that interest to teach them to build games, because if they can build games, they can build software, and if they can build one kind of software that can take that into every industry that is touched by software.
While our goal is to train a generation of innovators and entrepreneurs for every industry, as a youth game-making studio, we are also teaching youth how to build video games. The gaming industry is important in UAE’s vision of diversification as it represents a large segment of the entertainment industry. The game industry has grown to become twice the size of the music and film industries combined. Most adults consider it as it was decades ago, and yet it is a $200 billion per year industry, on its way to becoming a $300 billion industry. If the UAE wants to participate in the growth of this industry, it needs a way to train a generation of game makers.
But most importantly, it’s important to understand that Endless Studios is about more than just entertainment; it’s about using gaming as a tool to engage, educate, and inspire action. If we succeed, it will be with the support of the UAE. This not only opens up new avenues within the gaming sector but also positions UAE talent at the cutting edge of using technology.
How does Endless Studios’ initiative contribute to the UAE’s goal of creating 30,000 jobs in the gaming sector?
Endless Studios is a strategic contribution to the UAE’s ambitious goal of building a game industry. For example, DCT Abu Dhabi had earlier this year revealed its plans to drive job creation in the rapidly expanding e-gaming industry across more than 20 new companies. To achieve this, it will need to train talent capable of taking those jobs.
The question is: how does it train them? We believe that the best way to do that is by creating a community of game makers who are excited to build games and to do that at a young age. Traditional courses won’t work. Students aren’t interested in taking more classes. They want to make invigorating things with their friends. This is the core of how Endless Studios works.
Endless Studios puts youth together to build the game that they want to build. By providing the scaffolding and support so that they can succeed, we make it so that anyone can build a game. We have tools that make it easy for them to build games. We have mentors who guide them. We have live streams and community events that make game-making interactive and engaging.
Our program is not just about game development; it’s an ecosystem of opportunities, fostering skills and innovation in multiple facets of industry. We teach coding, art, design, management, marketing and all facets of entrepreneurship. Whether someone enters the gaming industry or takes this innovative approach into a startup or an industrial behemoth, we are preparing them for the most important skills of today. The skills of innovation and technology.
Looking ahead, we envision a future where every student in the UAE has a delightful experience that teaches them the basics of entrepreneurship. Some will turn these skills into their career, while others will simply gain a solid understanding of the principles. However, if we have the opportunity to widely teach entrepreneurship to our students across the UAE, all will be influenced by what they find delightful, and we will all consider it educational.
Emphasising the development of digital and creative skills among the UAE’s youth, we are directly nurturing the next generation of game developers, designers, programmers, and creative thinkers. These are the professionals who will drive the gaming industry forward, contributing to job creation not just within gaming, but also in related fields like technology, creative arts, and digital media. Additionally, our programs at Endless Studios encompass more than mere technical training in engineering, coding, design, art, and management. We’re passionate about fostering indispensable life skills – creativity, problem-solving, empathy, agility, communication, and collaboration – through our immersive learning model.
Our focus on climate change and sustainability through gaming opens up new avenues for job creation. It’s not just game development; it’s about creating content that is socially responsible and impactful. This approach attracts a broader range of talents and skills, from researchers and environmental experts to educators and storytellers, all contributing to a more diverse and sustainable gaming industry.
This global outreach not only brings in external expertise and resources but also creates new job opportunities by expanding the market reach of the UAE’s gaming sector. We have also partnered with E-Line Media, aiming to provide opportunities for participants to become paid apprentices on professionally made games.
In summary, Endless Studios’ initiative is a multi-dimensional approach to job creation in the gaming sector. It’s about equipping the youth with the right skills, fostering innovation in content, and expanding the industry’s horizons both locally and globally. We are committed to playing a pivotal role in achieving the UAE’s goal of not just creating jobs but shaping a future-proof, diverse, and dynamic gaming industry.
How does Endless Studios determine the theme for each cycle of its programs, and how has the current program integrated the concept of sustainable development and climate change awareness into its gaming initiatives?
To deeply embed ourselves in the UAE’s landscape, our programs follow a cyclical pattern, each cycle highlighting a theme significant to the region. With COP 28 currently being hosted by the UAE, we’ve chosen to emphasize climate change and sustainability in gaming this year. In past cycles, our focus revolved around themes encompassing UAE culture.
These themed initiatives serve as a magnet, drawing diverse talents and skills—from researchers and environmentalists to educators and storytellers—to our endeavours. This strategic thematic alignment allows Endless Studios to fortify the impact of its initiatives, aligning them closely with the UAE’s cultural and environmental priorities. By integrating these themes, we ensure that our programs resonate deeply within the fabric of the UAE, fostering a more sustainable and impactful gaming industry.
The current program uniquely integrates the concept of sustainable development and climate change awareness into our gaming initiatives by intertwining education and entertainment – a concept we often refer to as ‘edutainment’. Our approach is multifaceted and deeply rooted in the idea that games are not just a form of digital entertainment, but powerful tools for social change and education.
First, the games we develop under this program are designed to embed sustainability and climate change themes into their core gameplay. This means players engage with concepts like environmental stewardship, renewable energy, and conservation not as abstract ideas, but as integral parts of their gaming experience. By doing so, we make learning about these crucial issues both immersive and interactive.
Second, we emphasize storytelling. Each game tells a story that resonates with the players, making the concept of climate change more relatable and tangible. We believe that when players see the impact of their decisions within the game world, they are more likely to understand and reflect on the real-world implications of those actions.
We also integrate real-world data and research into our games. This approach not only educates players about the current state of the environment but also challenges them to think critically about solutions to these pressing issues. It’s a way of turning players into problem solvers, encouraging them to think about sustainability not just in the context of the game, but in their everyday lives.
Lastly, community engagement is key. We encourage players to participate in discussions, share ideas, and collaborate on solutions both in-game and through various online platforms. This creates a sense of community and collective responsibility, reinforcing the idea that everyone has a role to play in addressing climate change.
Can you share examples of how gaming is being used as a tool to address global environmental challenges in your program?
In our ‘Game On for Climate Change’ program at Endless Studios, gaming is leveraged not just as a medium for entertainment, but as a powerful tool for addressing global environmental challenges. We’re pushing the boundaries of what games can do in terms of raising awareness and inspiring action on climate issues.
Furthermore, we’re exploring the use of augmented reality (AR) and visual reality (VR) to connect players with their immediate environment. Imagine a game that encourages players to collect virtual items that correspond to real-world recycling efforts or conservation activities. By blending the digital and physical worlds, we aim to create a more tangible connection between the player’s actions in the game and their impact on the environment.
These examples underscore our commitment to utilizing gaming as a platform to engage, educate, and empower players about environmental sustainability. We believe that by embedding these crucial messages within the framework of gaming, we can reach a wider audience and make a significant impact in the fight against climate change. It’s all about turning players into advocates and stewards of the environment, one game at a time.
In what ways is your initiative helping to position the UAE as a global hub for cultural and technological advancements in gaming?
Our initiative at Endless Studios is meticulously designed to position the UAE as a global hub for both cultural and technological advancements in the gaming industry. We’re leveraging the unique aspects of the UAE’s strategic vision, its cultural diversity, and its technological prowess to create a gaming ecosystem that resonates on a global scale.
As it relates to aligning with Sheikh Hamdan’s vision, we’re focusing on innovation in the gaming sector. This involves not just adopting cutting-edge technologies but also pioneering new ones. We’re pushing the boundaries in areas like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and AI-driven game design. These technologies are not just futuristic; they’re game-changers, literally. They allow us to create more immersive, interactive, and engaging gaming experiences, which is crucial for establishing the UAE as a technological leader in the gaming world.
Culturally, the UAE is uniquely positioned as a melting pot of global cultures, and we’re channelling this into our games. By incorporating diverse cultural elements into our game narratives and designs, we’re creating games that resonate with a global audience while showcasing the rich heritage and modern dynamism of the UAE. This approach not only celebrates the cultural diversity of the UAE but also positions it as a centre for cultural exchange within the gaming industry.
Moreover, our programs are a testament to our commitment to using gaming for social and environmental impact. By addressing global challenges like climate change through gaming, we’re aligning with the UAE’s commitment to sustainability and demonstrating how technology can be harnessed for the greater good. This not only puts us on the global map as a forward-thinking gaming studio but also as a responsible corporate citizen.
We’re also heavily investing in talent development. By empowering the UAE’s youth with digital and creative skills essential for the future job market, we’re building a strong talent pool that can drive the gaming industry forward. This focus on youth and education ensures a sustainable, skilled workforce that will continue to drive innovation in the sector.
Could you share some success stories or tangible impacts of the ‘Game On for Climate Change’ program on the UAE’s youth?
One of the most significant impacts of the program has been its role in empowering the youth of the UAE. We have witnessed a remarkable increase in digital and creative skills among participants. Many of these young individuals, who previously had little to no experience in gaming or programming, are now developing games that not only entertain but also educate on important topics such as climate change. It is truly inspiring to witness their transformation into confident and skilled creators who are passionate about making a difference.
Mariët Westermann, the Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi, commended Endless Studios for bringing together talented peers and creating games with high production values in a short period. She emphasised how this initiative aligns with NYUAD’s mission to be a hub for collaboration and networking among young talent in the GCC and MENA countries.
The impact of our programs is also evident through direct feedback from the apprentices:
- 97% of the apprentices believe that the program provided them with an opportunity they had never had access to before joining Endless Studios.
- 94% believe that they acquired relevant skills during the program that will benefit them in their future careers.
- 91% of the apprentices expressed their willingness to participate in the program again.
- Importantly, 100% of the participants would recommend or strongly recommend the program to their friends.
How do these success stories align with and contribute to the UAE leadership’s vision for a youth-centric, sustainable future?
By equipping the youth with digital and creative skills, Endless Studios directly responds to the UAE leadership’s focus on empowering young people. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s vision emphasizes the importance of preparing the youth for the future job market, particularly in innovative and technology-driven sectors. Our program goes beyond teaching coding and design; it prepares young individuals for the future by fostering indispensable life skills.
The focus on climate change and sustainability in our ongoing program resonates with the UAE’s commitment to sustainable development. The UAE leadership has been vocal about the importance of environmental stewardship, and our program’s emphasis on creating games that address global challenges like climate change is a practical application of these principles. Through gaming, we’re making complex issues more accessible and engaging for young people, thereby fostering a generation that is more aware and proactive about environmental issues.
The success stories also showcase how gaming can be used as a tool for cultural exchange and global outreach, aligning with the UAE’s aim to be a global hub for cultural and technological innovation. Our program participants are not only creating games that have local relevance but also have the potential to resonate globally. This positions the UAE as a burgeoning epicentre for gaming and technological innovation, contributing to the nation’s reputation as a leader in these fields.
The tangible impact of these initiatives on the job market, with participants securing internships and positions in the gaming industry, directly contributes to the UAE’s goal of economic diversification and job creation. By fostering home-grown talent and opening up new career paths in the gaming sector, we are helping to realize the leadership’s vision of a diversified, knowledge-based economy.
#GITEXGlobal2023 – Interview with Joumana Karam of Acer
We caught up with Joumana Karam, the Head of Marketing for MEA at Acer. She spoke about her company’s presence at GITEX and her expectations from the event:
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#GITEXGlobal2023 – Interview with Faraz Mehdi of Anker Innovations
We caught up with Faraz Mehdi, the General Manager for MEA and South Asia at Anker Innovations. He spoke about his company’s presence at GITEX and his expectations from the event:
Download the Arabian Reseller GITEX 2023 Special Edition: https://arabianreseller.com/oct2023
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