In the last quarter of 2013, Lebanese retail store Spinneys launched its online shopping service, spinneysdelivery.com, “in an ambitious attempt of moving retail in Lebanon to a totally digital platform”, according to Ralph Kaahi, the company’s head of marketing. The online supermarket operates out of one delivery hub that is located at Spinneys’ Hazmieh branch. While the service originally only covered the Hazmieh area and its surroundings, it has expanded to include most of the Greater Beirut and Mount of Lebanon regions, reaching Baabdat and Aley. “With Spinneys’ online shopping service, we are targeting new potential shoppers in geographical areas that aren’t covered by our shops, such as Broumana, Fanar, and Jamhour, among others,” says Kaahi.
Although Kaahi sees potential for growth in online shopping in Lebanon – thanks to the increasing adoption of online banking services and growing usage of discount websites in the country – many Lebanese consumers are still reluctant to trust online payment systems and use their cards online, which is why Spinneys’ online shopping service allows shoppers to pay upon delivery of their order, either in cash or by credit card.
“We were initially promoting our online shopping service through door-to-door activities. Today, since we are covering a larger geographical zone, we have shifted [our communication around the service] to online media channels, and are advertising through web banners, social media emails and mobile. We’ve also adopted a more personalized approach in introducing this service through our direct marketing agents, who have been conducting one-on-one visits to potential households,” says Kaahi, adding that, so far, he is satisfied with the results the service has generated. “We feel that there is huge potential for the service, [as] most of our online shoppers became loyal ones with repeat orders. The number of orders is doubling month by month and users are acting as our ambassadors, sharing [reviews of the service] on their walls and sending us emails about the great and unique experiences they are having,” he explains.
In the coming months, Spinneys will be launching a new online catalogue, spinneyscatalogue.com, which differs from the website in that it will offer various non-food items, such as electronics, computers, games, books, watches, perfumes, sports items, garden tools and more. “This new e-shop will be targeting our existing offline shoppers – particularly the young generation, such as university students – by offering them a new range of products that they can’t find in our shops. This service will help convert more customers into online clients for Spinneys,” says Kaahi.