A Lot of people dreamt of being a businessman, but not everyone shares this aspiration. People have different interests, passions, and life goals that may not involve pursuing a career in business.
Furthermore, being a successful businessman requires a specific set of skills, including strong leadership, strategic thinking, and the ability to manage finances and people effectively. While these skills can be learned and developed over time, not everyone may have a natural aptitude for them or be interested in putting in the effort required to acquire them.
When Habib was a young boy, he had aspirations of utilizing his entrepreneurial skills to establish his own business. However, life had other plans for him and his astute management and leadership abilities led him to secure dream jobs with leading banks in India such as HDFC and ICICI. Following five successful years in the banking sector, he accepted an offer from Mega Carpets, a Dubai-based company that specialized in rug production, where he was given the responsibility of developing their export business. Habib is proud himself to have achieved considerable success in every division he managed during his time at Mega Carpets.
In 2009, Habib joined Danube Home as the product in-charge, when the brand was still in its start-up phase. Initially, his role was to oversee the rug division; however, he was quickly promoted to handle new product launches and oversee the development of all product ranges, such as furniture, electrical appliances, doors, and innovative flooring products. His duties included sourcing top-quality products from around the globe, evaluating vendor performance, identifying consumer trends, and mapping the competition.
In 2017, Habib was promoted to the position of General Manager for Business Development, and currently, he serve as the Director for Business Development, Franchise, and E-Commerce, where he is responsible for developing the overall strategy, managing people and expenses, establishing policies, and defining the vision for future growth.
“The challenges presented by the retail industry have always fascinated me. Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the Middle East economy, and even large conglomerates had humble beginnings. Convincing people and aligning them with a forward-thinking, technological and digital approach is critical to staying ahead of the competition. Evolving in business is often the most challenging part,” says Habib.
Transforming the Company
“Danube Home is a highly versatile and adaptable company that recognizes the importance of constantly considering what lies ahead in a world that moves at a breakneck pace. As someone who is passionate about the potential of RetailTech, I envision myself as the driving force behind the company’s digital and technological transformation. Although e-commerce in the home goods sector is still in its early stages, it possesses tremendous growth prospects. In fact, e-commerce sales as a percentage of total sales increased from 2% in 2019 to 9% in 2022. While furniture sales represented less than 2% of total sales, I anticipate this figure will climb to 7% or 8% in the current year,” says Habib.
If you closely examine any field, you’ll find ample opportunities for growth and innovation. Mr. Habib is proud to have played a key role in transforming Danube Home from a conventional company to a RetailTech-driven one.
By developing technology that sets us apart from the competition, we’ve gone from being tech-enabled to tech-led. Here are a few examples of the technology we’ve implemented:
- We offer 3D visualization, which allows customers to explore thousands of ideas and create their dream home.
- Our interior designer platform lets customers become their own interior designers.
- We’re working to create the largest aggregator of the marketplace platform in the home design segment, with more than 1 million products available on a single website.
- We’re developing content that can replace the need for a salesperson. Customers will receive detailed product information and further assistance will be available through video calls and chats.
Danube Home: Ultimate Online Shopping Destination
Danube Home is a unique concept that provides a comprehensive range of products for indoor and outdoor home needs such as furniture, furnishing, décor, kitchenware, sanitary ware, curtains, carpets, tiling, parquet flooring, pools, and landscaping, along with customized design solutions, all under one roof. Since its inception in 2008 as a single showroom in Ras Al-Khaimah, it has expanded into 16 showrooms across the UAE and Asia Pacific, strategically located in various cities such as Al Barsha, Sharjah, Fujairah, and Abu Dhabi. Additionally, it has seven showrooms in Oman, one in Bahrain, and two in India, with further expansion plans underway.
Realizing the potential of an omnichannel presence, Danube Home launched its e-commerce platform, www.danubehome.com, which offers a seamless shopping experience to its customers. With an extensive range of over 50,000 products sourced from more than 23 countries in categories such as furniture, sanitary ware, ceramic wall and floor tiles, parquet flooring, curtains, carpets, chandeliers, lighting, décor, hardware tools, doors, paints, wallpapers, garden and outdoor furniture, and modular kitchens, Danube Home is ranked among the top retailers in the MENA region with an average year-on-year growth rate of 25%.
Danube Home.com offers features that assist customers in making informed buying decisions, along with quick and easy shipping and hassle-free returns to enhance the overall shopping experience. The brand aims to become the ultimate online shopping destination for everything related to home needs.
Danube as a group prioritizes its employees. In fact, the company has been recognized as one of the happiest places to work. At Danube Home, staff are encouraged to have an owner’s mind-set and think outside the box. There is a lot of importance given to innovative ideas and creativity. As the Director of Danube Home, E-Commerce, Mr. Habib takes pride in his team who consistently goes above and beyond to stay ahead of the curve whether it is backend operations and tech or servicing the customers.
Foreshadowing on importance of Technology
Mr Habib believes that, “Future lies in tech and I’m pleased to say that we’ve successfully transitioned from a tech-enabled company to a tech-led one. We’ve implemented various strategies to make the customer journey smoother, from product selection to checkout and delivery. We’re also developing a SAAS platform that will allow for customization of the storefront and improve backend operations, including Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, and Content Management Systems, all of which are essential for running an efficient e-commerce business.”
Although physical stores are invaluable, Mr Habib believes that the future of retail will be a seamless blend of physical and digital experiences. This will involve smaller stores showcasing a selection of their products, while also offering customers the option to browse and order from their extensive portfolios online while in-store. This approach has already gained traction in the fashion and lifestyle sectors, and I believe the furniture industry will soon follow suit.
As the Metaverse gains popularity, with several major brands opening virtual stores, Danube Home aims to be the first brand in its industry to establish a presence in the Metaverse. By anticipating changes in the retail landscape and staying ahead of the curve, we can continue to thrive in a constantly evolving industry.
Danube Home: Taking Care of Customers
The furniture industry has undergone significant changes in recent years, driven by advancements in technology, changes in consumer preferences, and shifts in the global economy. The rise of e-commerce has transformed the way people shop for furniture.
There has been a growing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly furniture. Consumers now have the ability to customize furniture to their specific needs and preferences. This has increased the demand for made-to-order furniture, as well as modular and multi-functional pieces. Danube’s Designs seamlessly takes care of this requirement with custom solutions for customers’ homes.
Danube Home is a purpose-driven company that puts its customers at the center of everything it does. To maintain strong relationships with their customers and understand their needs, Danube invests a lot of effort in comprehending consumer behavior, creating development plans, and pursuing growth opportunities. This is particularly crucial in the UAE, where the diversity of nationalities makes it challenging to grasp the mindset of customers.
Even during the pandemic, Company prioritized the customers’ satisfaction by providing them with personalized shopping experiences. Their sales executives arranged video calls with interested customers to assist them with their shopping needs. They also revamped their e-commerce website to enhance the customer journey, featuring AI and VR capabilities that allowed for a smooth shopping experience. Each product had clear images and detailed descriptions, simplifying the buying process.
Company’s commitment to its customers also extends to the delivery and installation services. They offer free, expert installation of furniture, and their Delivery Management System (DMS) optimizes routing to increase the number of deliveries per day. They have made significant progress in delivery efficiency, from 12,855 deliveries in 2019 to 45,881 deliveries in 2022, while their packaging further improves efficiency.
Advice For Aspiring Leaders
Innovation and pushing beyond the boundaries of what we can imagine is the key to future success. To achieve this, it is crucial to focus on the needs and desires of your customers and adopt a forward-thinking mindset. Instead of trying to do everything at once, it is important to identify your strengths and work to excel in those areas. Effective management is also essential, whether it involves managing your own time, your team, or yourself. Treat every member of your team according to their unique abilities and strengths, fostering an environment of creativity, cohesion, and autonomy. With the average lifespan of companies being only around 20 years, it is imperative to stay relevant and adapt to changing trends. Embrace constructive feedback and continuously work to improve both yourself and your products or services.