Communicate chats with Richard Nicoll, Chief Strategy & Capability Officer at Liquid, to learn more about their recent expansion.
Despite the global challenges of 2020, retail ideas company, Liquid Retail experienced phenomenal growth and are now expanding into new markets in the Middle East. Communicate spoke with Richard Nicoll, Chief Strategy & Capability Officer at Liquid to learn more about the opportunities that the e-commerce landscape in these new markets offer.
What are the reasons for the expansion into KSA and Egypt?
Well actually from the very beginning we’ve worked in both markets, but always remotely. Both markets are massive consumer and shopper economies where retail is important and winning there has always been critical for our clients.
As things begin to slowly get back to normal, shopping behaviors and as a result go-to-market needs have changed. We feel that now is the time to be on the ground, and build an expert team, to help our clients navigate and take advantage of change. Our key priority is to help them identify new opportunities, and solve any problems across their delivery chain both at a retail and market level.
For example, the rise of online shopping and the importance of linking e-commerce to sales performance - has [forced] brands to ask some significant questions. Strategy, content, visibility and logistics are all now front and centre of any plan - and we want to be there to help our clients with winning ideas and innovation at all points of the retail delivery chain.
We’re very excited to start building strong relationships with the wider retail community and customers, supporting the region’s growth in all areas of commerce. We want to bring new capabilities to the retail landscape, and support both Saudi Arabia and Egypt in its ambitious plans, as we seek to expand our presence in these important markets.
Could you provide an overview of the retail and e-commerce landscape in both markets? You mentioned them being still fertile.
Our move into these key markets will see us further help our portfolio of some of the world’s best loved brands build their business in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
For example, a recent $800 billion plan has been drawn up to double the size of Riyadh alone, taking it from a current population of seven million to 15 million within the next decade. In KSA, we aim to capitalize on a retail market that contributed 16% of non-oil GDP in 2019 – as part of the powerful Saudi Vision 2030. The scope for growth is phenomenal.
Egypt has also emerged as a key growth market in the region. During the 2019/2020 fiscal year, the retail trade sector contributed to around 19.5% of GDP – which is huge. The retail environment in Egypt is firmly set on a path for a major transformation over the coming decade, with a young and technologically literate population - many retailers are expecting to generate an increasing proportion of their sales online in the years to come.
The opportunities that both [these markets] present, perfectly complement our trajectory and plans here at Liquid.
What opportunities can such a landscape present?
The one thing I think we are all seeing is the removal of boundaries - both geographical and channel. Shoppers don’t really think about where they buy, but rather care about what they are buying. The retail fundamentals won’t change, shoppers still want quality, value, convenience and safety - wherever they buy.
We are already seeing brands doing more than just selling on marketplaces like Amazon and noon. We are seeing content rich brand stores embedded into these platforms. The opportunities to build brands at commerce is greater now and that’s only going to increase as more engaging interactive tactics come on stream. We are seeing increased use of social media as a sales channel, with shoppers across the region flocking to Instagram, Facebook, Reddit and Tik Tok. Our role is to help brands work out ways of selling and attracting their target audience to these platforms.
And all of that is having an effect on offline retailing too. Stores are undergoing a real digital transformation with a much heavier focus on technology in both their operations and their shopper experience.