Retailers need to adapt to new shopper buying patterns
Retailers across the UAE and the GCC need to ensure that they are ahead of the curve by focusing on the needs of their customers, especially when it comes to their online purchasing and spending habits, experts at the eighth edition of the Middle East Retail Forum (MRF 2019) said.
The two-day conference is being held under the theme 'RetailNEXT - The new wave of People, Products and Processes' and has brought together the Middle East's most powerful retail influencers and leaders to focus on the fundamentals driving profitable innovation in the retail sector.
"It is an undeniable fact that e-commerce is a major chunk of a retailer's business. Traditional brick and mortar can't survive without being online. Consumers have changed their buying pattern and we have to adapt to the new ways," said Sajjad Azees, marketing manager at Emirates Cooperative Society.
Similarly, Vijay Talreja, co-founder and director at Adapty Solutions DMCC, said that retail businesses in the region will have to transform from a pure-play physical store setup to an integrated digital and omni-channel model. This will provide their customers with a connected experience, thereby increasing engagement, leading to loyalty and hence more commerce.
Euromonitor International's research revealed that retail sales across the Gulf countries are projected to increase by more than $24 billion over the next five years, with the UAE expected to lead this trend with an estimated growth rate of 16 per cent. Euromonitor's research showed that Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are all set to capitalise on the rise of consumerism thanks to favourable demographics, a rise in population, as well as a strong growth trajectory in tourism and per capita income.
"In a YouGov survey we recently commissioned, 96 per cent of IT decision-makers in the GCC region ranked customer experience as a priority for their businesses in 2020. With the availability of industry-specific innovations that provide real-time insights and analytics, the dynamic Middle East retail industry has a major opportunity to improve experiences and drive customer loyalty," noted Girard Moussa, director of Customer Experience at SAP Middle East South.
SAP's research found that while most respondents successfully collect customer feedback across all touchpoints, and optimise customer experiences, there is still room for improvement. A little less than half of organisations value a mix of direct communication, social media, surveys, and customer ratings and reviews.
"The tech and marketing teams of retailers today could end up collecting a lot of data through various sources, trying to understand trends, which consume a lot of energy, time and money, and sometimes the data collected doesn't always lead anywhere," noted Amitabh Taneja, chairman and managing director of the Images Group. He explained that the real value of the data can only be found after it has been properly analysed and used to improve friction points in the customer experience.