Sayed Habib: Prioritizing Superlative Customer Experience

Sayed Habib | Director of Business Development | Franchise and E- commerce | Danube Home

A business that prioritizes its customers is exempt from all the scrutiny that might be detrimental to the enterprise. A healthy relationship with the clients enables companies to succeed in any market, even in resilient conditions like today. Customer focus and putting their needs first add more value to the company than any other retention strategy.

Acting upon such pivotal requirements of modern business, Sayed Habib, Director of Business Development, Franchise, and E-commerce at Danube Home, has taken it upon himself to cater to the needs of the consumer base, resting on his extensive experience in the field of business development.

Under Sayed’s adept leadership, Danube Home excels as the region’s leading retail name in home interior and home improvement solutions, operating stores in 14 countries. He also manages the strategic and business development division.

CIOLook had the opportunity to interview Sayed, in which he explained how he mastered the strategy of a successful business.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Danube Group. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?

Well, I feel a little nostalgic recalling my younger days when I was extremely keen to practice my entrepreneurial skills and become a business owner. Still, destiny, as you call it, had ordained a different journey for me.

My management and leadership qualities got me recruited in major banking sectors in India. After thriving for five years, I accepted a job offer for a business developer from a Dubai-based company that was in the business of rug manufacturing. I take pride in acknowledging that, henceforth, I have excelled in every division.

Tracing further, in 2009, I decided to join Danube Home as a product in charge when the brand was still an initial start-up. Gradually after achieving the assigned duties, I was further promoted to handle a wider product range with some other crucial responsibilities and commitments like evaluation of vendor performance, identifying customer trends, and competitive mapping.

In 2017, I was yet again promoted to the General Manager for Business Development and, currently, The Director for Business Development, Franchise, and E-commerce. The retail industry has incessantly intrigued me with challenges, but the bigger ones have always been internal. All the renowned corporations initially begin from a humble background, but with a conventional mindset and futuristic approach, they have managed to stay ahead of the curve. The bottom line is that evolving in business is one of the biggest challenges to combat.

What methodologies do you implement that contribute to new growth opportunities?

First and foremost, the priority of Danube Home is to make its customers feel special. We aim to deliver exceptional customer service, and to fulfil that, we continually research the dynamic market trends and prioritize customer expectations by identifying their needs and then catering to them with upgraded assortments of home essentials that work well with every budget. Last but not least, the most important of all methodologies is that the customer is your greatest asset, and make sure it’s a happy one!

Tell us more about Danube Home and its mission and vision.

The point remains relevant in building a satisfied customer relationship. We aim to deliver an exceptional customer experience, keeping in mind that every assortment we deliver is in line with the latest trends and of the highest and finest quality. Known for our extensive product range and after-sales service, we believe in keeping close with our customers, making them feel special, and understanding their expectations, needs, and their purchasing patterns.

This is why, today, Danube Home is one of the fastest-growing brands of home assortments at economical prices. It started as a single showroom in Ras Al-Khaimah in 2008 and has steadily grown into the region’s ultimate shopping destination with 16 showrooms across the UAE and the Asia Pacific. The showrooms are strategically located in Al Barsha, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Fujairah, Al Ain, and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, with seven showrooms in Oman, one showroom in Bahrain, and two in India, with several more expansions in line.

After realizing the emerging trends of E-commerce, we dedicated ourselves to revamping our online platform, making it more user-friendly, and providing our customers with a hassle-free online shopping experience, so that they can complete their purchases anywhere and anytime at an affordable price from the comfort of their homes.

Danube Home sources over 50,000 products from suppliers in over 23 countries and is ranked among the top retailers in the MENA region, with an average year-on-year growth rate of 25%.

Enlighten us on how you have impacted the RetailTech industry through your expertise in the market.

There is tremendous scope for growth and innovation in any field if you are willing enough to excel. It brings me sheer joy to say that I have been instrumental in transforming Danube Home from an established company to a RetailTech driven company and from tech-enabled to tech-led by developing tech to help the company stand out of the crowd.

Though I have implemented certain significant approaches, too, that as 3D visualization, where customers can look through thousands of ideas that inspire them to create their houses into their dream homes. Secondly, creating an interior design platform where customers can become interior designers. Third, we’re also working towards creating the largest aggregator of the marketplace platform in the home design segment by bringing more than 1 million products under one website.

Last but not least, we’re also working towards developing the best content strategy that can replace the need for a salesperson. The customers can know about the products they want to purchase through well-provided descriptions, key features, and information so that their online purchase can be as seamless as the in-store one.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives Danube Home.

Danube Home has been awarded the Happiest Place to Work multiple times. We have a truly ethical work culture from the inside out. We are a group that is wholly driven by an employee-centric and customer-focused approach. Giving a positive work culture atmosphere will render good productivity, so we believe in working together as one family; as said by Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

What change would you like to bring to the RetailTech industry if given a chance?

Being part of the furniture and home retail industry, it would be a brilliant innovation to have a technology that can help a customer to perceive the comfort and feel of an entity from the comfort of their home.

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the RetailTech sector? How is Danube home preparing to be a part of that change?

While the in-store experience is unrivalled, I feel confident that in the future, it will be an exceptional blend of the physical and digital retail space. With a wide in-store product range, customers can also select the same assortment range online and get their desired product in just a few clicks. Danube Home is also looking forward to making its presence in the emerging trends of the metaverse. Having foresight and aligning ourselves with the ever-evolving retail landscape will ensure that we’re consistently staying ahead of the curve.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Danube Home?

Danube Home is one of the most diversified and efficient companies. With the world moving at an insanely fast pace, it is important to keep thinking, what next? There is so much potential in RetailTech, and I aspire to lead the digital and technological transformation of the company.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the RetailTech sector?

It is a tremendous journey of an emotional rollercoaster, challenging your limits, confronting failures, and nevertheless embracing the odds of ambiguity. Venturing into RetailTech will help you identify your strengths; you have to aim towards exceeding the customer’s expectations by providing them with accurate, reliable, and quality service. Master the art of management, whether it is managing yourself, your time, or your team. Your team is your family, treat every member of your team with a positive approach and help them strengthen their abilities, and create a positive work culture.

Lastly, I would like to end with a quote by Steve Jobs,

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma– which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”