January 16, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau


How is the retail industry adapting to rapidly changing consumer behaviour – this was one of the topics of discussion at IMAGES RetailME’s Saudi Retail Forum (SRF) 2023.

What are brands doing to enhance customer experience (CX), while staying updated with emerging trends and leveraging technology tools, asked Khaled AlAkel, Saudi Territory Lead for Zebra Technologies.

“We run a retail brand that focuses on high quality luxury leather products, and we’ve noticed that storytelling and CSR [corporate social responsibility] have gained prominence with the Gen Z coming into the fray. Generally speaking, with declining attention span, creating engaging digital media content to ensure that the cart doesn’t get abandoned halfway through the customer journey has become critical,” responded Turan Quettawala, Director, Jafferjees.

Pointing towards a challenge Bernard Patterson, Country Head for Saudi Arabia, Glory said, “The current generation of consumers are looking for convenience and speed. They expect things on-demand. A lot of this is I think is driven by the big technology companies that are enabling people to get what they want immediately, which makes it a bit challenging for more traditional retailers. Since the pandemic particularly, I think it has become a challenge for retailers to effectively deliver on customer expectation of a virtual shopping experience in the real world.”

How important is it to adapt to changing in customer behaviour and what methods can be used to stay aware of customer preferences, AlAkel asked.

“In everything we do, we take into consideration the ‘why’,” responded Ayman Beydoun, Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Group Chief Operating Officer, Brand For Less. “Why do we have an off-price concept? It’s because we want to offer value to our customers. Taking that into consideration, and with the customer being the focus, we think of how to best address them through their preferred channels – offline, online, a hybrid model – that’s the ‘how’. Then comes giving them the right product at the right price through the right channel, while bearing in mind that our stores don’t necessarily stock the same items. So, in our case the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is inevitable to automatically allocate and replenish stock in different stores based on customers’ shopping patterns. Basically, adapting to what the customer requires is the key to success.”

Of late, AI has taken a central position, agreed Hasnain Gilani, Head of Partnerships & Alliances, BytePlus. “Overall, technology must enable a retailer to sell products, create extraordinary engagement with customers through hyperpersonalised content, make relevant recommendations and much more. In addition to this, there’s so much more that tech tools can do, such as augmented reality (AR) enabled experience, live streaming, creating user generated content. All of which are so relevant in today’s retail landscape.”

At this point, Hisham Qasim, CCO, ToysRUs highlighted the importance of creating a seamless shopping experience. “We use one platform for offline and online, Microsoft 365 Dynamic, which ensures every customer has a unique account number to leverage their loyalty related benefits seamlessly. In addition, I believe physical stores are very important, playing a crucial role in improving the customer journey through facilities such as order online and pick up in stores, by acting as experience centres, through community engagements as well as for quick exchange and refunds.”

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