Ecommerce With Shopify Plus In the GCC – A Recap

A recap of the second-ever Shopify Plus event in Dubai, UAE

VL OMNI gets around. And not just by ourselves, either — we like to bring friends.

If you’re a regular follower of VL, you know that we travel quite a bit. While our hometown of (nearly) Toronto, Ontario, Canada has plenty going on in terms of commerce and technology, the wider world is clearly in need of an agile, scalable, and robust data integration platform with accompanying managed services and white-gloved set up. 

We don’t say this to brag because it really is true. 

5 years ago, VL OMNI was North America-strong. 

But today, VL OMNI operates in Canada, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. (And we’re not even close to being done — subscribe here to find out first on where we’re heading in 2020!) And we’re only in these regions because of our incredible partners, our reputation, and the trust that Shopify Plus has in us as a Technology Partner.

Over the past 25+ years of VL OMNI, we’ve had the privilege to meet and work with some of the most incredible people — merchants and partners included. Our latest event in Dubai, UAE was canonical of this; our event, Ecommerce with Shopify Plus in the GCC, was the second-ever Shopify Plus event to be held in the region. Based off the incredible success of the first-ever Plus event for the region, which was hosted by VL OMNI, Creative971, and Shopify Plus, this second event was bigger, better, and even more well attended than the last.

This event saw over 50 merchants packed into our closed-door private venue. And they showed up early. If you do business in the GCC region, you’ll understand what a big deal it is to have your audience show up not only early — but before some of the hosts, too! 

Ecommerce with Shopify Plus in the GCC


This year’s event saw augmented interest from the community of specialists that support merchants the world over: Shopify Plus not only flew into the region again to present directly to our audience of very enthusiastic merchants, but LS Retail, the world-leading developer and provider of all-in-one business management software solutions, also presented at the event and announced the recently launched LS Retail-Shopify Plus Connector by VL OMNI.

After a gracious opening of the event by the Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner of the Consul General of Canada to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, our event started in an unorthodox way: with a bit of roleplaying.

Led by Robin H. Smith, CEO and Co-Founder of VL OMNI and Julia Jackle, CEO and Co-Founder of Creative971, we walked the audience through what both our companies see but don’t often present on: the actual growth arc of a merchant’s business today. 

In the past, both VL OMNI and Creative971 have shared in detail what we’ve seen from speaking with many merchants in a lessons-learned and best-practices way. But merchants live these experiences, so we tried a different slant at this year’s event: literally walking through a fictitious merchants’ business, from start up, to experiencing growth, to hitting strategic hurdles and decision crossroads. And it really resonated with the merchants in attendance, because they told us first-hand.

This central fictional story based around an athletic clothing business that started by selling through social media and WhatsApp, moved into the Mall of the Emirates with a bricks-and-mortar location who’s now looking to get online but doesn’t know exactly where to start permeated the entire event. From the roleplay introduction of this story, Shopify Plus took the stage, picking up where the roleplay introduction left off: how to effectively get online and into ecommerce with one of the world’s leading platforms. 

Shopify Plus’ talk ‘advanced’ the fictional athletic clothing business to the point where our next speakers, Creative971, picked up: how to best leverage the capabilities and features of Shopify Plus specific to the GCC region. With the momentum on building our fictional merchant building, the event quickly then moved into VL OMNI’s presentation, centered on how to take merchant’s data beyond the transaction and into powering complex strategic objectives like personalization, unified customer experience, and looking toward preparing for future changes to come to ecommerce, like headless commerce.

Our final presentation of the event was from LS Retail, who advanced our fictional retailer beyond sophisticated ecommerce and into the sphere of unified commerce on a global scale. LS Retail bridged the conversation by officially announcing for the first time ever the LS Retail-Shopify Plus Connector by VL OMNI, bringing a whole new world of technology and exposure to not only our event’s audience, but to the international community of Shopify Plus merchants.

And just like last year’s first-ever Shopify Plus event in Dubai for the GCC region, the event ran long! Attendees shared their enthusiasm both for the content of the event and the relatability of how it was presented — and, of course, to start planning out their strategies right then and there with the experts in the room. 

We’re thrilled that our event was so well received for the second time in a row; it just attests to the hunger for what not only Shopify Plus can deliver to merchants, but to the value of the extended family of partners that surround and support Shopify Plus and their merchants.

Want to be at our next GCC or other international event?

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