Abdulla Al Gurg
In a continuous changing market environment, operational efficiency remains important. However, retailers are leveraging data and new technologies to optimize demand processes, attract and retain more customers, and drive future growth. Understanding consumer behaviour is necessary, albeit challenging, as it not only helps in marketing your products better by increasing their visibility, but also serves as an effective tool in influencing the purchasing decisions of consumers. Products have different levels of importance depending on the consumer’s needs and analyzing this information will help develop products that will appeal more to them.
To create marketplace advantages in the future, retailers will need to know their customers in-depth, including their needs, wants, preferences, and values, as well as re-design their business processes and in-store technologies to ensure customer expectations are fully satisfied. This will help develop your business further and also help in examining the strengths and weakness of your company.
What is transforming a customer’s shopping experience?
Wireless technology promises to transform the customer shopping experience, providing a powerful competitive tool as retailers strive to build stronger customer relationships.
Consumers have become even more sophisticated and the retail landscape in the Middle East region is growing significantly. Decision making and shopping today comprises of a sequence of online and offline activities.
In the 2015 MasterCard Online Shopping survey, of the respondents polled in the UAE, nearly one-third had made online purchases through their mobile phones, which is higher than what was observed in the UAE for results collected in 2012 and 2013. With the GCC consumer being well-travelled and savvy, retailers in the region have to start customizing concepts .
Social Media – a game changer
Social media has been a game changer. Facebook is believed to be the one of the most used social media channels across the Arab world and according to the latest Hotwire global influence study in collaboration with Vanson Bourne, 24 per cent of B2B decision makers are turning to Facebook as a primary channel for purchase research. The report reinforces the importance of social media, as 87 per cent of decision makers cite traditional media sources and social media as being equally important for information and as reference points for purchase decisions.
Social media platforms allow customers to leave behind a clear digital footprint that retailers can track and interact with. The more retailers invest in listening to, understanding and engaging with customers through social media, the more successful they will be.
Shopping experience at the Middle Eastern malls
More than being a shopping center, the malls in the region have simultaneously become leisure and recreational destinations. . Shoppers are seeking new experiences, entertainment, relaxation and high service standards. Buyers in the MENA give equal consideration to product quality and price, and are willing to delay their purchases to bag the best deals.
With a diversity of stores and restaurants, entertainment as well as a good pampering experience has become a trend in malls, which not only nudges shoppers to continue shopping, but also provides an overall experience of fun and relaxation.
Today, in the retail industry, there is a lot of repetition; similar merchandise and even the same decoration and window displays. A great retail approach should take into consideration the physical and digital experiences in a store along with human interaction. In a retail business, it is not just about selling your product. Brands become more visible when they create an environment where the seller as well as the buyer shares ideas and practices.
(Abdulla Al Gurg is the Group General Manager of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group LLC, a multidivisional conglomerate with 28 companies.)