Creating ‘smarter’ shopping experiences

January 8, 2020 | By Rupkatha B

Experiential brick-and-mortar, robust e-commerce and engaging mobile app – these are at the forefront of omnichannel retailing – also termed as ‘new retail’. However, digital transformation journeys in the retail industry are not restricted to these areas alone. It encompasses much more to deliver a seamless shopping experience.

From CRM (customer relationship management) to the last mile, inventory management to warehousing, payment gateways to self-checkout – every aspect must be aligned to offer a highly differentiated shopping experience.

Staying with CRM, Abu Dhabi-based retail conglomerate LIWA Trading Enterprises launched its loyalty programme called ‘USRA’ in 2019. “Over the past few months, more than 100,000 people have signed up for USRA. “Our loyal shoppers spend 68% more than an average customer, particularly at La Senza – that’s a critical insight from our loyalty programme. And we would like to leverage our high spending, loyal customers more meaningfully by capitalising on the loyalty programme. Since we launched our loyalty programme, our like-for-like growth has improved,” revealed CEO, Mark Tesseyman.

As the fundamentals of retail are continually evolving, the need for speed, convenience and experience are converging, making delivery of delightful shopping experience more and more complex – at the same time exciting – for retailers.

For example, UAE-based home-grown start-up Mr. Draper is built around offering a curated shopping experience for men. The brand’s ability to offer a highly personalised experience has led to Mr. Draper boasting a 57% customer retention rate during 2019. “Our customers use our service more than three times in a year, with the average spend being $250 per basket,” shared founder & CEO, Mahmoud Gao.

Another UAE-based home-grown bookstore chain Magrudy’s is working on a massive business software upgrade. “This will allow our company to keep ahead and integrate processes across all departments to work together seamlessly. The new software features an inbuilt web platform which will allow us to post real-time quantities in stock with no time-lag, making the process of selling and buying more efficient for our people and our customers,” said marketing & buying consultant and managing partner, Anayah Abulhoul.

Organisations are also busy thinking of ways to integrate the human touch with technology. They are thinking of ways to increase efficiency to not only meet but also anticipate exact customer demands – as well as reduce returns – through use of machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and even robotics.

To reinvent the way business is done through their digital transformation agenda, the Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group has created a digital innovation lab, bringing together a team with substantial experience in this space. “Our innovation lab team is working very hard to reinvent processes and incorporate automation, wherever possible. Tasks that, historically, were done manually, are now being transformed by introducing new technology saving resources and time. For example, in 2019, we saved over 70,000 human hours, which are being re-invested into new customer initiatives and projects,” shared group CEO, Hisham Al Amoudi.

Digital transformation is also a crucial step for a business to scale, but in a sustainable manner. In this regard, UAE-based start-up CEO, Armin Jamula observed, “Our proprietary backend system been a gold streak for us. It is super scalable and even more adaptive when it comes to creating newer elements within the existing UI as and when we are ready. Our fully custom-built platform allows us to apply learnings from consumers and vendors alike actively and make both user journeys relatable to the end-users.”

The ENOC Group has also been on a massive digital transformation journey. It launched ‘ENOC Link’, which offers an end-to-end digital fuelling experience through a 360 digital fuel delivery experience to customers through use of advanced fuel analytics, management and reporting online platforms. “We are working towards improving ENOC’s innovation and digitalisation capability to help meet our goals of building world-class competencies, delivering operational excellence and profitable growth while enhancing the happiness of employees, customers and partners,” elaborated chief business officer for ENOC Link, Saeed Amiri.

Overall, as we look into 2020, indications point towards certain aspects that will make the retail landscape more exciting. High on the retailers’ agenda are faster fulfilment, greater personalisation and building a more in-depth relationship with customers. On the part of customers, better communication with brands they like; more and more choice; and smarter buying experiences, including social commerce, will be high on the agenda.

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