Across its ten plus years of annual roll outs, Distree Middle East and Africa has gone through adjustments to meet the requirements of the regional consumer technology industry and its sell-out ecosystem of distributors and retailers. One of the present day, industry wide adjustments is the consumerisation of technology into multiple new industries including fitness and healthcare. Another rapid change is the emergence of e-retailers and market places. This has meant the opportunity for sell-through and sell-out has expanded horizontally. Distree Middle East and Africa in 2017 is targeting the new sports and outdoor retailers, e-retailers and marketplaces.
“We are trying to attract new sports retailers, because it is a new market in Europe and we think it is a new market here also. We want both retailers and e-retailers and marketplaces. We cannot separate them and they are the same. Every retailer needs to become an e-retailer. When you are a vendor you want see the full list,” explains Christophe Painvin, Executive Director at Distree Events and Event Director for Distree Middle East.
Another industry wide transformation that is taking place is around the pros and cons of the omni-channel strategy for retailers. This has been much debated, tested and has yielded varying results on return on investment. To bring this subject into focus, Painvin explains that ICT channel market research organisation Context, will join Gfk at Distree Middle East and Africa 2017. They will present their findings on the adoption of the omni-channel strategy in the Middle East. He points out, everybody is talking about it but we need to focus on it to be more efficient.
Another course correction is the leverage between the Distree EMEA event held in the first quarter of the year and Distree Middle East held in the second quarter of the year. In 2017, the Distree EMEA event was actively directed towards networking between consumer technology vendors and regional distributors from Middle East and Africa. This is expected to facilitate the entry of new consumer technology vendors into the Distree Middle East and Africa event, either directly or in partnership with their distributors, while allowing them to singularly focus on engagement with regional retailers during the same event.
“For the moment, it is important to focus on all the participants. We have two kinds of vendors, some brands who are exhibiting themselves or distributors representing vendors,” says Painvin. However, regional distributors are better placed to understand the fulfillment requirements of retailers, e-retailers and market places by country.
To address the growing demand for latest consumer technology products in Africa, leading retailers and e-retailers from Africa have been invited to attend this year’s Distree Middle East and Africa event in Dubai. Previous attempts to organise the African edition of Distree within Africa have been logistically challenged. “Even within Africa, it is difficult to come to Africa. So, we have merged it and brought it back to Middle East because it is easier to come here, than to do it within Africa.”
With most of Sub-Saharan Africa fulfillment being met out of Middle East, inviting top retailers from Africa to have a dialogue at Distree Middle East and Africa is likely to provide the required gains. Unlike more developed regions, the sell-through process for consumer technology products in Africa is fragmented and unorganised, with most large technology specialised distributors based out of South Africa.
Once a dialogue has been established between the consumer technology vendor and the African retailer, working out the fulfillment channel is less of a challenge. This is one of the primary reasons why Painvin has invited leading retailers from Africa. “This is the first time we have invited only top retailers. We want quality and not quantity. And it is more efficient to discuss directly with retailers, since they are not many distributors. You do not have huge distributors like other countries.”
With most regional distributors selling-through only top of the market, consumer technology products into Africa, direct dialogue between consumer technology vendors and African retailers at Distree Middle East and Africa, is likely to expand the range of products being made available to African retailers. Overall across Africa there are more consumer technology retailers than e-retailers.
Consumerisation of technology has also brought the role of startups into focus and the ecosystem of capital funding and retailer demand. Typically, startup products get alignment and traction with retailers and e-retailers since they are new to the market. The challenge for startups is to find the right ecosystem of funding, distribution, retailers, and identify and develop partners to take forward from there.
Providing this ecosystem of funding, distribution, and retailers for startups is now a key objective for Distree Middle East in the years ahead. “It is important for us to have startups. The most important thing is how they can grow and become a real brand. Middle East is a small market so startups can test and see if their products are working here,” sums up Painvin.
- Distree Middle East and Africa is targeting new sports and outdoor retailers, e-retailers, marketplaces
- Even within Africa, it is difficult to come to Africa
- It is important for us to have startups, most important thing is how they can grow and become a real brand.
- Overall across Africa there are more consumer technology retailers than e-retailers
- This is the first time we have invited only top African retailers, we want quality and not quantity
- We have two kinds of vendors, some brands who are exhibiting themselves or distributors representing vendors
Held for over ten years, this three-day event brings executives from consumer technology vendors and their distributor partners into contact with executive buyers from retailers, e-retailers and marketplaces. The event allows consumer technology vendors and their distributor partners to showcase their portfolio and pre-arrange face to face meetings and negotiations with buyer executives. Which buyer executives are selected for negotiations are based on perceived regional market opportunities and more than a thousand such discussions take place during Distree Middle East and Africa.
This is not a traditional industry show event but follows a specific objective. The traditional consumer technology sell-out chain, involving vendor-brand-distributor-retailer-consumer has been disrupted. The Distree event has shifted focus towards having discussions on the transformed omni-channel sell-out chain, that is beginning to replace legacy retail supply chain.
Distree Middle East and Africa taking place in the second week of May 2017, has now 160 attendees confirmed to participate from twenty Middle East and African countries. Key African countries represented at Distree 2017 this year includes Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and North Africa amongst others. Digital e-tailers that are participating include Awok, Digikala, Letstango, Souq and Whoopey. Retailer participating include Book City, Electro, Emax, Jumbo, Leaders, Sharaf DG, Plug-Ins, Virgin, X-Cite.
The list of retailers suitable to be invited for Distree Middle East and Africa has been expanded to include, pharmacies, sports stores, home stores, others selling technology products to consumers. The consumer technology product categories now include accessories, appliances, audio, cameras, consumer products, drones, gaming kit, PCs, peripherals, printing, smart home, smartphones, storage products, tablets, TVs, wearables.
A programme specific to the regional Distree Middle East and Africa event, first initiated in 2016, is the MMR20 vendor programme. This programme recognises consumer technology brands that have demonstrated sustained retail leadership position in one or more product categories across the Middle East during the previous year.
The Middle East Retail Academy awards, recognising excellence in regional consumer technology retail channel, is also collocated with Distree Middle East and Africa. This year’s categories include In-Store Experience of the Year, Customer Promotion of the Year, Product Launch of the Year, Marketing Initiative of the Year.