Middle East’s biggest experiential retail concept launches at Mall of the Emirates


January 19, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair

Gone are the days of traditional brick-and-mortar as well as purely e-commerce retailers. It’s time to bring all things ‘Omni’ to life and Majid Al Futtaim has done just that with its first-ever experiential retail concept, THAT.

The multi-brand homegrown concept with 10 experiential offerings, six services, three food and beverage options and an exclusive range of fashion, footwear and jewellery brands merges both digital and physical retail.

“There was a clear gap to offer experiential retail. The size of the store shows that it’s not a shy effort but really talks to the customers that can’t find a place to spend their entire day. You can start your day as early as 6.30 am at our fitness studio, do your hair at our salon, drop your laundry and have coffee from any of our three F&B concepts”, said Fahed Ghanim, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim — Lifestyle.

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“We believe the future is Omni. THAT’s experience starts on our app where you can book appointments, browse products, click and collect etc. Merging the physical and digital environments is a true testament to the next generation of retail. The digital aspects are quite embedded in our concept through the digital mirrors that suggest styling options to complete the look where you can order products, change the size, and complete your transactions”, he explained.

The buying model

Since the focus is on curation, THAT doesn’t adopt a franchise model – it’s a buying model instead where it goes out seeking the latest trends and playing host and home to niche, exclusive brands that aren’t usually available in Dubai on a rotational basis.

“This concept brings newness and a fresh concept to retail. We have a lot of pop-ups and a busy calendar throughout the year to allow brands to showcase their products, he said.

However, it’s not just brands that find a space in the store. DJs, graffiti artists, ramp walk models from the region and across the globe are all a part and parcel of THAT’s experience.

Is it only for the rich and famous?

While the exclusivity of the offerings might seem like it is only for the rich and famous, that’s not the case. They’ve got a varied price point range making it more accessible and approachable for a millennial or anyone who thinks like a millennial.

“You can find a product for as low as AED 100 or experience a reasonably priced haircut, or buy a super luxurious product. But we ensure that we have the best price position in the market where we are the lowest in the market and we minimize the premium versus their international pricing”, he said.

Given the year both retailers and customers have had, the two things that are crucial for any business now seem to be value and purpose. And to attract this community of value and purpose-driven customers, data plays a very important role. Customers in Dubai have yearned for an experiential concept for years and data analytics from various retailers is a testament to that.

“It’s a mall within a mall, he said. “We are trying to create a community. People coming here don’t necessarily have to shop – they can train, eat, relax, meet friends. We design the customer journey and provide individual experiences. To do so, you need to leverage the power of data and analytics. The minute you know what the customers want and what they don’t want, we can give them a seamless experience”, he concluded.

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