Recognizing the opportunity to enhance the customer search experience on its major ecommerce websites, Al-Futtaim Group partnered with Algolia to elevate search relevancy and implement an efficient, user-friendly solution. Over the past two years, they've seamlessly integrated various AI-powered Algolia features, including Dynamic Re-Ranking, AI Synonyms, and Query Categorization. As a result, search usage has significantly improved, leading to a noticeable increase in search-driven revenues. Discover how the Dubai-based business conglomerate optimises e-commerce performance and enriches the customer journey with Algolia.
“We chose Algolia as our search and discovery solution because it's not just about finding products on the website; it's about quickly connecting the right product with the right customer, which we achieved using Algolia's advanced AI features. Algolia's Merchandising automation capabilities also allowed us to off-load efforts from brands, driving overall efficiency and higher website conversions.”
Ankita SinghCRO Manager @ Al-Futtaim Group
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Search API, Dynamic Re-Ranking, Insights API, Rules, Visual Editor, Facets & Filters, Query Categorization
Enhanced search and discoverability
Seamless Arabic language integration
Real-time indexing for tailored results
Improved overall customer experience
Search sessions increased by 128%
Search revenues increased by 206%
Conversion rate from search increased by 41%
Search orders increased by 221%.
Poor search relevancy
Too much manual intervention required
Goal of improving customer journey
Algolia Search for fast, relevant search results
AI features such as Dynamic Re-ranking and Query Categorization
Deployed across eight e-commerce sites (and counting)
Trial of Algolia NeuralSearch
Improved customer experience
Double the number of search sessions
Increase in conversions, orders and revenues
Support for future personalisation goals
Established in the 1930s as a trading business in Dubai, Al-Futtaim Group now operates in more than 20 countries, across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa and South Asia.
The family-owned conglomerate employs more than 33,000 people within five divisions: automotive, financial services, real estate, retail, and health. Its customer-centric approach and relentless pursuit of perfection are part of why some of the world's biggest brands have trusted Al-Futtaim Group for up to nine decades with their commercial success.
And those brands are enormous. Since the '50s, the company has been the exclusive distributor of Toyota in the UAE; it holds franchise rights for IKEA in UAE, Qatar, Egypt, and Oman, where it operates stores; it founded Orient, the largest insurance company in the UAE; and more.
Our core culture is centered on ensuring innovation in our work, collaboration among teams, while keeping a customer-centric approach that fits rightly with my own working style and values" says Ankita Singh, CRO (conversion rate optimisation) Manager at Al-Futtaim Group. "Working on the digital side of retail, I find my department to be extremely dynamic.
Singh is responsible for enhancing conversion rates through UI/UX optimisation, across Al-Futtaim Group websites, and utilising various third-party CRO tools, including Algolia.
Working with Al-Futtaim Group franchise-owned brands like ACE Hardware, Toys R Us, Marks & Spencer, Ted Baker, Watsons, and more, across diverse categories within the MENA & SEA region, has been a valuable experience," Singh says. "It taught me that there's no one-size-fits-all solution for improving conversion rates. Instead, you adapt and find the best solutions to achieve results
Enhancing search and product discovery
When Singh joined Al-Futtaim Group in 2021, they were in the process of solving two significant website concerns by adopting Algolia: poor search relevancy with the out-of-the-box onsite search algorithm and the requirement for a robust merchandising solution for category pages and search pages.
"Merchandisers were basically doing merchandise updates manually one by one. They were focusing most of their time on that rather than planning and optimizing the performance of the website," Singh says. "So, we wanted to make that automated, with product listings based on real-time performance and the customer's affinity towards them."
From a search relevancy perspective, Singh notes that before Algolia there was a drastic difference between results on category pages versus those from search. All that would soon change.
The company chose Algolia for its enterprise-level capabilities, including seamless integration, large catalog handling, and overall tool effectiveness, all of which are vital factors.
Using Algolia, they were able to create a customer e-commerce platform for those eight retail sites (including ACE Hardware, Toys "R" Us, Marks & Spencer, Watsons, B&Q among different markets), taking advantage of AI-powered Algolia features like AI Synonyms, Dynamic Re-Ranking and Query Categorization. That, Singh suggests, is just the beginning.
"We initially integrated Algolia on PLP and search pages, optimising results with custom ranking and sorting logics based on historical product data. As we fine-tuned our strategies through A/B testing, we transitioned to leveraging Algolia's AI features, including Dynamic Re-ranking, Personalization, and Query Categorization," Singh says. "We're now planning to test NeuralSearch and Algolia Recommend on our websites. With the upcoming website launch roadmap in place, we are pretty optimistic as it provides new growth opportunities.”
The results from implementing Algolia have been notable across all Al-Futtaim Group brands. For example, in ACE UAE, our search usage has jumped from 8% to 18% after the Algolia implementation, with a threefold increase in search revenue which clearly indicates that customers are now able to find products that they need more effectively than pre-Algolia.
Search numbers for ACE speak for themselves, Singh says:
- Search Sessions increased by 128%
- Search Revenue increased by 206%
- Search CVR increased by 41%
- Search Orders increased by 221%
Boosting search and the customer journey
The results from implementing Algolia have been significant, especially on some notable brand sites. For example, Al-Futtaim Group was only experiencing 8% of customers using search before Algolia, since the adoption that number has more than doubled, and revenue tripled.
One major concern Al-Futtaim Group had which Algolia helped solve was around ACE. As a marketplace, the product content on the ACE website "had a lot of noise which needed to be filtered out.
"You can't control the content for a marketplace product in the same way you can for your own products. Sellers will sometimes write incorrect product descriptions & in many cases, they won't even bother to write one," Singh says. "Algolia enabled us to identify and address these problematic products, either by getting them fixed or finding our own solutions to deal with them." With over 30,000 products offered, it was also important for Al-Futtaim Group's ACE Hardware website to be able to boost certain brands, like ACE's own lines.
Singh notes that Algolia has been very flexible and easy to use for the merchandising team when prioritising brand placement in search results.
In addition to seeing great overall results from Algolia, Singh highlights Algolia's vital role behind the scenes, as it powers marketing product feed for Google and Facebook Ads, ultimately helping optimize the company's marketing campaigns. The customer service and support that Al-Futtaim receives from Algolia is also top-notch, Singh suggests. "With some vendors, it takes around one to two weeks to get an answer to even a simple question, but with Algolia you get it right away. They are, I would say, amazing."
"With others, once a solution is implemented, you hardly get a call. With Algolia there's ongoing two-way communications."
Partly driven by the massive uptake of e-commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic, Al-Futtaim Group's concept of winning has shifted in recent years from a more unit sales-focused model to one that incorporates the entire customer journey — a journey Algolia is helping them navigate.
"Customers have a lot more choices now. Their expectation from a website is a higher level of customer experience — a better customer experience than we were giving before," says Singh. "That obviously leads to them wanting personalization and having better search. They should be able to find products, and navigation from one to another should be smooth."
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