Technology has already transformed the way we shop, it is believed that more people are increasingly shopping using their devices daily. That said, there has been an increase in technology at the point-of-sale and as part of overall retail operations. This means more data from the offline world.
We spoke to Liquid’s CEO Sachinn J Laala who told us that “we leave a digital footprint knowingly or unknowingly,” which makes it a question on how to capture the shoppers data from new in-store technology or online shopping to better understand the shoppers and be able to target them with the right campaigns. Through these changes, the world of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is affected. Sachinn has voiced through different interviews the importance of omnicommerce in changing how the elements of today’s marketing and advertising world are playing.
What are the main changes taking place in retail within in the region?
We are going through an unprecedented time of change. Although slow to start, e-commerce in the region is now in full flow with retailers and brands competing fiercely for online sales.
Although the acquisition of Souq.com by Amazon certainly fueled the status quo, this is only the start of a much bigger e-commerce story being played out in the region, with retailers such as Amazon.ae, Sprii, Mumzworld and Instashop playing an increasingly large role in the UAE retail landscape here.
At the same time, bricks and mortar retailers are sharpening their shopper experience and offering the convenience and personalization that shoppers are enjoying online. Big retailers like Carrefour have moved seamlessly to ‘brick and click’ and are providing seamless retail experiences wherever and whenever shoppers shop.
How are the changes in retail affecting marketing/advertising departments?
The past decade has seen an explosion of shopper marketing in all forms. I’ve personally been involved in creating communications for shoppers for more than a decade and I’ve always believed it’s more of an approach not just a discipline. I’ve found that creating ideas which directly inspire a purchase is hugely rewarding and massively valued by our clients.
These days, ideas can live online as well as in store and ideally – both. It’s true that while many agencies may touch on retail, it’s those agencies with a granular specialism in retail and who understand the mechanics of the store or platform that are doing the most effective work.
With the Middle East e-commerce still lagging behind Europe and the Far East in the retail landscape, but given that the region is quite advanced when it comes to internet usage/penetration (esp UAE and KSA), how do you see omnichannel retail cut through to customers here?
Although it may be true that the Middle East has been playing catch up in e-commerce as I said earlier, the charge is on! The truth is the Middle East has always been an amazing place to be in shopper marketing, because the stores are full of opportunities. Just visit a hypermarket here in Dubai and you will see aisle solutions and experiential retail designs you will not see anywhere else. So, from a physical in store POSM (Point of Sale Materials) perspective, the region is leading the way. That being said, when it comes to e-commerce there is still massive potential waiting to be explored! Especially when compared to markets like China, where shopping on e-commerce is really akin to an entertainment channel.
Platforms such as Alibaba’s TMALL and JD.com are transforming e-commerce from a place you go to save time to a place you go to spend time. The ‘new retail’ landscape, is taking the online shopping experience to bricks-and-mortar stores and blending them seamlessly.
I’d say that is the key, the focus on the shopper. We are in a new age of retail choice and rather than think ‘multi-channel’, which after all is about doing what retailers expect, we are increasingly looking at marketing within retail in an omnicommerce way, which puts the shoppers need at the centre of communication planning and inspires a purchase wherever and whenever they shop.
What are the top trends that will shape the retail industry in 2020 that need to be on the radar of brands and retailers?
I think there will be three big trends in all commerce in the coming year: