Dubai Mall is set to open a virtual store on noon.com to help retailers and consumers as social distancing measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus affect footfall in the malls.
The initiative from Emaar Malls, a subsidiary of Dubai’s biggest-listed developer Emaar Properties, will allow Dubai Mall retailers to sell and deliver their products through noon.com. It is unclear when the virtual store will go live. A message on the regional e-commerce website said the Dubai Mall virtual store is “coming soon”.
“Unprecedented challenges call for innovative, collaborative and bold measures,” Emaar Malls said yesterday.
“The Dubai Mall virtual store will help retailers continue to do positive business while factoring in the need for social distancing and people making their purchases online.” A Noon spokesperson said it has “been in discussions with large mall operators for the virtual mall initiative, as part of our efforts to offer alternate channels for retailers to tide over the current challenges”.
Countries around the world have taken stringent measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Although shopping malls in the UAE are still open for business, many other public places such as theme parks, indoor amusement centres, cinemas and gyms have closed.
The virus, which has its roots in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected more than 278,000 people and at least 11,570 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Italy, Spain and Iran are among the worst hit countries outside of China, as nations across Europe, Middle East and North America close borders and implement travel restrictions.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention has called on the public to maintain social distancing measures. The total confirmed cases have climbed to 153 in the UAE, of which 38 have fully recovered.
Dr Farida Al Hosani, director of the communicable diseases department at Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health, said yesterday: “We call on people to avoid public places and adhere to social rules.”
To be part of the virtual store, tenants at the Dubai Mall have to opt in to the service. They also have the option to sell their products on Namshi.com, an online platform acquired by Emaar Malls last February. The e-commerce platforms will work with the retailers to take their inventory online and offer free delivery to consumers.
Noon, which was founded by Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar in 2016, sells items in more than 14 categories, such as electronics and mobiles, beauty and health, fashion, and home and kitchen. Namshi mainly specialises in fashion and footwear.
“The initiative allows for Emaar Malls to connect our stores and customers safely, without impacting daily routines and worries around well-being,” Emaar Malls said. “This will particularly benefit SMEs and start-ups that do not have an active online presence as well as larger retailers who now have an added channel to drive sales.”
Emaar Malls' assets include the Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina Mall, Gold & Diamond Park, Souk Al Bahar and community retail centres. It is also set to open Dubai Hills Mall in the fourth quarter of this year.
Emaar Malls reported a 2.5 per cent growth in net profit to Dh2.29 billion for the full year ending December 31, edging up 2.5 per cent as revenue climbed 5 per cent. Namshi reported sales of Dh339 million in the fourth quarter, up 40 per cent compared to the same period during the previous year.