UrbanBuz, the region’s leading digital customer loyalty platform, expects the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model to become a dominant force in the Middle East’s retail software landscape. Empirical research suggests that while mainstream companies are seeking to digitize their offering, they are increasingly averse to purchasing software as a capital investment. Instead an increasing number of UAE-based retailers now seek a software partner to provide the same capability to them on an ongoing basis; a trend that is evidenced by the 200+% growth that UrbanBuz has experienced in the last 12 months.
With some of UrbanBuz’s clients reporting as much as a 30% increase in customer retention over a period of just two months, Mustafa Sadek, Founder and CEO of UrbanBuz, commented, “Retailers are looking to the SaaS model as a cost-effective, pay-as-you-go option for managing operations and customer relationships. In the customer loyalty space, businesses are realizing they don’t have to buy it and build it themselves. With SaaS, set-up, maintenance, upgrades and turnover are all part of the service, so there’s no need to commit heavy investment or suffer prolonged implementation time. This is the newest and most important trend in business-oriented technology, and one that is growing rapidly in the UAE.”
The 2014 PwC Global 100 Software Leaders report recorded a 5% increase in revenues for its constituents in 2012, in which period SaaS revenues experienced 60% growth. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that by 2016 25% of all new business software purchases will be in service-enabled software. SaaS delivery will comprise 14.2% of all software spending globally and 18% of all spending on applications. The IDC further forecasts a 21.3% CAGR for SaaS revenue through 2016.
Sadek continued, “In developing our SaaS offering and cloud-based service, we’ve realized that the benefits of the SaaS model for retailers are numerous. For smaller businesses a SaaS platform is an effective and economical business solution that provides them with valuable insights about their customers; for larger companies it facilitates easy incorporation of social media, brings greater adaptability, enables the introduction of new features quickly and seamlessly and is more mobile. It is also more easily deployed as a cloud-based solution, which is now the most important space for customer engagement and relationship management.”
Customer relationship management (CRM) is the area in which UrbanBuz identifies SaaS as most important. CRM is currently the most prominent application of the SaaS model globally. Retailers in the UAE increasingly conduct the bulk of their consumer engagement on social media and online, and the SaaS model is ideally suited to improving that outreach.
Salam Saadeh, Co-Founder and COO of UrbanBuz, commented, “Exceptional customer service and long-term relationships with consumers are relatively new in the Middle East, but will become an essential part of retail marketing with the SaaS offering lending itself perfectly to customer loyalty. We have found that by developing a constantly-evolving loyalty platform – which we maintain and update ourselves and is available with real-time capabilities – our partners are able to adapt to ever-changing consumer trends, and reach out to their customers across all digital, social, and mobile channels. This is the future for CRM software: traditional models are unwieldy and out-of-date.”
UrbanBuz’s own SaaS offering has experienced rapid growth. The evolving digital loyalty platform enables businesses to communicate with customers on an engaging and long-term basis, growing retention and repeat business. The platform can be fully integrated with the POS system of the business and/or can be operated independently through a tablet that is included in the service, enabling staff to easily sign up and reward customers. The UrbanBuz platform is currently used in over 100 locations across the UAE, serving more than 55,000 consumers.