Retailers across the Middle East and Africa spent $1.95 billion on IT in 2019, according to the latest insights from global technology research company International Data Corporation (IDC). This figure is forecast to reach $2.04 billion in 2020 and continue rising at a compound annual growth rate of 5.7% over the coming years to reach $2.43 billion in 2023.
“The Middle East retail industry is going through a transition where the digital marketplace is gaining prominence,” says Ranjit Rajan, IDC’s associate vice president of research for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “While the bigger players are directing their money and efforts towards building digital platforms, the market’s smaller players are exploring new business models in partnership with digital pure plays.
“Regardless of the size or the type of marketplace, the focus is on providing a personalised customer experience that is enabled by data-driven processes and a cloud-based foundation. Technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics are becoming an integral part of the retail value chain – from personalised marketing and seamless digital or physical stores to warehouse and delivery automation,” he added.
With many consumers wary that organisations are collecting too much data about them online, IDC believes that 60% of major retailers worldwide will implement a consent-based approach over the next two years, with the aim of maximising the value of contextualised customer journey through personalisation and automated conversations. Those retailers that fail to do so may find that they can only leverage anonymous and aggregated data, severely limiting their ability to deliver personalised customer experiences.
Enabling a digital commerce platform will also prove to be an essential step for driving commerce across both old and new business models. IDC expects that by 2021 around 80% of retailers globally will have implemented such a platform. As a core component of these platforms, AI will play a key role in optimising daily operations and gathering insights for innovation, which in turn will drive significant supply chain improvements and enable greater levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
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