F&B retailers must have appetite for technology

RetailME Bureau

Supermarkets and hypermarkets must capitalise on technological developments and create the perfect mix of in-store and online offerings to meet consumer demand if they are to remain the dominant force in a rapidly evolving food and beverage retail landscape.

That is the message from Ashraf Ali MA, executive director for Lulu Group International. He believes retailers should prioritise the convenience of customers as they seek to service an estimated one million extra consumers by 2030, with world population figures on track to reach 8.5 billion.

“Consumers are becoming much more educated, knowledgeable and trendy,” says Ashraf Ali. “There will come a day when the one-store format won’t fit all the lifestyle preferences of your customer base. Segmentation and customisation of offerings are required to ensure convenience to customers, whether it implemented through online shopping or the traditional brick-and-mortar store.”

“As retailers, it is vital to make each shopping experience memorable and convenient. Technologies should serve as an enhancement tool for introducing better shopping experience. Innovative formats, such as self-service check-out counters, cashless & card payment options, smart trolleys, click and collect on, virtual marketing and augmented reality, all must be embraced so consumers benefit from a world-class shopping experience at the most convenient format,” he adds.

Shifting consumer choices are driving retailers to think more about their offering, with the Gulfood Global Industry Outlook Report 2018 stating, “For middle to premium consumers, a shift to local and specialist stores is driving sales of premium, natural and organic foods, allowing traditional and independent grocers to maintain their market share at 26% globally. All leading global retailers have also adopted omnichannel approaches to the market, with large investment establishing a strong presence in mobile retailing.”

In this context, Ashraf Ali insists that retailers must continue to listen to their customers. “People are becoming very health conscious nowadays, more aware of ecology, sustainability and the environment. These are the key elements that have been adding new dimensions to retail. That’s why, we are continuously improving our supermarket offerings, which currently include specific categories and sections to highlight speciality products, such as natural, organic, free range, low-carb, and diet-oriented products.”

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