The key to a successful omnichannel future

February 16, 2023 | By RetailME Bureau

Fahed Ghanim, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim – Lifestyle

A frictionless omnichannel experience which is predictive, value-focused, and highly personalised is vital for retailers to keep pace with the rising customer expectations of today.  That’s not just the latest in marketing theory, but something we are seeing first hand across all our Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle brands.

For instance, we know many customers in our home category begin their journey through our digital channels, where they compare prices, styles and gather inspiration; they then take advantage of our free in-person design services; and finally complete their purchases in-store, once they touch and feel the product. They may also opt for home delivery. Our job as retailers is to ensure that the journey is seamlessly connected at every touchpoint, providing a unified and personalised customer experience.

Predicting for sales
Moreover, brands that are at the forefront of shaping predictive purchases and can provide their customers with the products they want at the place and time they need it will be able to fully leverage their sales and growth potential.

At Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, we rely heavily on our advanced analytics team to leverage the power of data, not only to redesign the typical customer journey from product discovery to purchase, but also to predict future trends and customer behaviors. This is especially apparent through our recent entry into the luxury home category with Poltrona Frau, the century-old luxury Italian furniture brand renowned for setting the global standard in leather interiors. Utilising our vast amount of data to predict demand for Poltrona Frau products, which will soon be driven by an omnichannel approach is essential given the unique customer base and price point.

Our strong, customer-centric strategy supported by our unrivalled data and analytics capabilities has enabled us to shape, rather than follow trends and has resulted in 15 new store openings across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and seven new digital assets last year. In 2023, we aim to open even more new stores and add more than five new digital assets to burnish the group’s omnichannel strategy.

Partnering for growth
At the heart of this expansion is the decision to exclusively partner with brands which have an aligned strategy and vision to improve the user experience, personalise offers, and ensure a seamless and consistent experience throughout all touchpoints to reduce churn, increase loyalty and drive robust sales growth.

It’s a critical time for the industry when retailers are drowning in data but are thirsty for knowledge. A McKinsey report found that the gap between data leaders and laggards has widened, with some data-savvy fashion and luxury companies dramatically increasing their market value, while others losing ground to competitors.

Given that gap, retailers need to move from depending on backward looking analysis to embracing technology that helps them make clear decisions about going forward. Predictive purchasing helps by making the right product available at the right place, at the right time for the right price, based on key forecasting pillars such as fulfilment, probability, and customer returns.

Right Fulfilment Approach
Fulfilment specifically delves into whether customers, for instance, prefer the Buy Online, Collect in Store option and then calculates how much next-day delivery demand might come from the store. This can help brands reduce lost sales by maximising availability. Probabilistic forecasting calculates the probability of all possible inventory transactions and potential quantities, helping reduce fulfilment costs, while Return forecasting is vital to reducing inventory holding costs.

Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle supports these pillars of predictive purchasing by deploying advanced AI and analytic tools to become more efficient and smarter, paired of course with human insight. For instance, to be able to anticipate and be prepared for changing consumer habits and tastes by swiftly modifying the inventory.

Going granular with predictive purchases can often be a challenging task for retailers, especially in the home furnishing category. Consider, for instance, the following decisions: what merchandise should brands invest in for each season? How to price new products with no history? How can brands calculate optimal safety stock levels?

With a laser-like focus on value creation, being agile and being available to customers whenever and wherever needed, the brands under Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle are at the forefront of harnessing omnichannel excellence. By embedding the principles outlined above into our retail strategies, we hope to use this omnichannel momentum to create decisive market advantage.

Indeed, the most successful retailers enable their aspirational customer experience to determine what omnichannel strategy they should pursue – aligning strategic ambition and capabilities to strengthen the brand at every touchpoint. That’s why for Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, predictive purchasing sits at the heart of a successful journey to an omnichannel future.

By Fahed Ghanim, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim – Lifestyle

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