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Retail a big winner in digital transformation

Retail a big winner in digital transformation
Delegates during the final day of Digitrans 2019, presented by Khaleej Times and MIT Sloan.

Dubai - Pace of technology adoption increasing and most industries have been disrupted, experts say at Digitrans 2019


Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Thu 31 Oct 2019, 9:18 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Oct 2019, 11:23 PM

If there is one industry that has successfully reaped the rewards of digital transformation, then that would be the retail industry, experts at the 2019 Digitrans Forum said.
Firms that have set out to digitally transform their operations have enjoyed a closer relationship with their customers, increased profit margins, and a growing loyal following, retail experts noted.
Paolo Cinelli, digital transformation manager at Ikea Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, briefly highlighted how the world is changing in terms of macro-trends.
"The pace of technology adoption is increasing and most industries have been disrupted," he said.
"You have a growing population of shoppers that are looking to make their purchases on their phone since it is easier and faster. Digital technologies are certainly disruptive, but Ikea sees it as a key opportunity for innovation."
However, he noted that the brand had remained true to its core values even as more operations took on a digital front. "We want to extend our culture of curiosity and experimentation. Digitalisation goes beyond having an online strategy, it is a business strategy."
Sonja Abdo, vice-president of digital marketing at Majid Al Futtaim, added that the foundation of digital transformation lies in data and analytics.
"You have to look at different variables, especially in predictive analytics," she said. "Once you have the data, you begin to understand what it is that consumers want from you and then you can work on getting it to them in a faster and more efficient way."
Mobile apps, she said, are the face of e-commerce today, which is not a surprise given the high mobile penetration rate in the GCC. But while it is easier than ever for retailers to reach out to their customers, it should be noted that different people like to be contacted through different means, and have deals pitched to that that are based on their preferences. This is especially true for targeted promotions and deals.
Simon Smith, COO at Centrepoint of Landmark Group, noted that personalised promotions improves the turnover rate.
"We know that 61 per cent of people expect brands to tailor experiences based on their preferences, and that organisations can enjoy 40 per cent higher spends when the experience is personlised," he said.
Data, he said, is important, but it is just as important what you do with it. "The best results that you can hope to achieve will always come when you invest in technology that allows you to understand the needs of your customers and then use the data that you have collected about them to bring them what they need."
- rohma@khaleejtimes.com

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