Fu­ture looks bright with game-chang­ing de­vel­op­ments

Middle East Business (English) - - NEWS -

PwC Mid­dle East’s lat­est re­port, 'Re­tail Dis­rup­tion - what’s the out­look for the Mid­dle East?, in­ter­viewed over 24,000 peo­ple across five con­ti­nents in 30 coun­tries. Re­searchers wanted to know if the de­vel­op­ment and ad­vance­ment of on­line re­tail will sur­pass tra­di­tional re­tail and trans­form the re­gion’s con­sumers’ shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence.

In the Mid­dle East alone, PwC sur­veyed over 1,000 on­line shop­pers across the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Ara­bia about their shop­ping be­hav­iours and ex­pec­ta­tions. Norma Taki, Re­tail and Con­sumer Part­ner at PwC Mid­dle East, com­mented: “Our find­ings tell us that the face of Mid­dle Eastern re­tail is in­deed chang­ing and it is a ripe mar­ket full of op­por­tu­ni­ties. The ap­petite for in­vest­ing in on­line re­tail con­tin­ues to grow with high pro­file ac­qui­si­tions from heavy weight play­ers such as Ama­zon and Souq.com and JadoPado.com, along with the an­tic­i­pated launch of Noon which is due to have a big im­pact on the re­gion. With the on­line re­tail land­scape chang­ing on a daily ba­sis, re­tail­ers and in­vestors need to truly un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics be­hind these changes. We are see­ing an in­crease from 23% (2013) to 29% (2016) of con­sumers shop­ping on­line on a monthly ba­sis.”

Ac­cord­ing to PwC, there are sev­eral rea­sons why con­sumers pre­fer to shop on­line, sur­vey re­spon­dents in­di­cated they were mainly be­cause of lower prices (40% re­gion­ally vs. 36% glob­ally), prod­uct se­lec­tion (31% re­gion­ally vs. 21% glob­ally), and con­ve­nience (17% re­gion­ally vs. 36% glob­ally). Re­tail­ers are learn­ing to nav­i­gate what is one of the most com­pet­i­tive land­scapes in decades, with pref­er­ences shift­ing to on­line shop­ping.

The re­port out­lines five key in­vest­ment ar­eas which PwC says will be top of mind for Mid­dle Eastern re­tail­ers mak­ing in­vest­ment de­ci­sions in the near fu­ture:

1. Mo­bile

The use of mo­bile as a shop­ping and pur­chas­ing de­vice con­tin­ues to surge in pop­u­lar­ity. 56% of shop­pers us­ing their mo­bile de­vice as their main tool to pur­chase items. 43% like to use it to com­pare prices with com­peti­tors, while 33% checked re­views about prod­ucts and re­tail­ers which is up 11% from 2016. Those seek­ing to grow their on­line re­tail pres­ence need to op­ti­mize their mo­bile of­fer­ing by fo­cus­ing on de­sign­ing mo­bile sites that can be eas­ily nav­i­gated to make on­line mo­bile shop­ping an ef­fort­less and en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

2. So­cial cus­tomer en­gage­ment

For years, large multi-na­tional re­tail­ers have been us­ing a va­ri­ety of tech­nolo­gies to gather data on cus­tomer move­ments in-store. And yet, so­cial me­dia is vastly be­com­ing the most at­trac­tive tool for on­line en­gage­ment. So­cial me­dia is in fact driv­ing cus­tomer be­hav­iour with 48% en­gag­ing in on­line pro­mo­tions and 52% us­ing so­cial me­dia chan­nels to check prod­uct re­views.

3. Se­cure plat­forms

The risk of cy­ber breaches and data hacks are af­fect­ing all in­dus­tries across the globe. On­line safety con­tin­ues to be a con­cern with 62% of con­sumers wor­ried about hav­ing their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion hacked via their mo­bile de­vice and 60% only shop­ping on­line with com­pa­nies they feel they can trust. Pro­vid­ing se­cure plat­forms for any touch point with cus­tomers is a must for re­tail­ers. In­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy, en­hanc­ing se­cu­rity sys­tems, pro­vid­ing main­te­nance and up­dates is a cru­cial el­e­ment for suc­cess­ful on­line re­tail.

4. Loy­alty

Cus­tomer loy­alty is a key pri­or­ity for any re­tailer but it is not with­out its chal­lenges. The evo­lu­tion of the re­tail sec­tor means that cus­tomers have a vast ar­ray of choices when it comes to pur­chas­ing prod­ucts on­line. 32% of on­line shop­pers re­main loyal to their favourite re­tail­ers be­cause they trust the brand whilst 48% cite good prices for their re­peat pur­chases.

5. Show­room ex­pe­ri­ence

The re­gion is see­ing the rise in on­line shop­ping as an at­trac­tive and easy al­ter­na­tive to shop­ping in-store. For lux­ury goods, 42% of con­sumers want to see and touch prod­ucts pre­fer­ring to buy high priced items in-store, valu­ing ex­pe­ri­enced sales as­so­ciates with deep knowl­edge of in-store prod­uct ranges. Taki con­cluded: “The dis­rup­tion of on­line re­tail is rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the way we shop in the re­gion and there­fore must fea­ture heav­ily at the top of lo­cal re­tail­ers’ board­room agen­das. The in­vest­ment ar­eas iden­ti­fied are crit­i­cal for any re­tail­ers look­ing at their long-term re­tail strat­egy and they must quickly learn to de­velop omni-chan­nels to en­sure that both their on­line and off­line strate­gies are not only aligned, but mon­e­tised. In do­ing so, re­tail­ers will be able to create real syn­er­gies with their cus­tomers ex­ceed­ing their ex­pec­ta­tions no mat­ter how and where they shop.” To read the re­port in full: http://www.pwc.com/m1/en/pub­li­ca­tions/ to­tal-re­tail.html

Monthly on­line cus­tomers has risen from 23% to 29% in 2016

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