1. What is your outlook on the GCC Retail Industry?

1. What is your outlook on the GCC Retail Industry?

In the last year we have seen tremendous change in the retail industry. The customer demographic has changed for some of our brands while other brands have seen a change in the shopping style of customers. E-commerce too is stronger than it has ever been. Overall, the retail sector seems to be going through a metamorphosis. The region is seeing an influx of the style seeking shopper who is lured into the store due to the red sale banners, but who also buys merchandise from the current season.

2016 saw many small and medium retailers consolidating and we see this continuing through 2017. These slots are being filled by professionally run retailers who are setting new benchmarks for the industry. In the long run, this will help make the retail sector become even more organized and efficient.

2. What are the challenges facing the GCC Retail Industry?

Given the global scenario and the fluctuation in oil prices, the retail industry’s biggest challenge is luring the customer into the store. Whether the customer shops online or in brick and mortar stores, the choices are endless. This is a time when all stakeholders right from brand owners to landlords and retailers need to come together and find a way to either address this challenge.

3. What are the factors that will aid growth in this sector?

There is a behavioral and lifestyle shift in how customers interact with products and services. Today, more and more time is being spent on social and digital media platforms. Hence, marketing strategies for retail are going through a major shift; along with the traditional marketing platforms like print, satellite and radio, digital media too has been gaining momentum. All of us need to stop thinking like retail companies and start to think like technology companies. E-commerce remains the number one area of opportunity for the retailers in the GCC. This is not to say that brick and mortar is anywhere near saturation. Prestigious projects by reputed land lords and efforts from the government to attract tourists will continue to fuel growth in the industry

4. What are the recent trends in this sector?

Currently, two opposite trends shaping GCC’s retail scene: a rapidly growing e-commerce sector and an economy in the grips of a slowdown. While the latter has left many to speculate, the former indicates that the regions retail industry is looking up.

As Gulf retail markets mature, the retail sector has the potential to grow into one of the key drivers of economic diversification. We see the sector remaining strong and expanding in the year ahead across the GCC, particularly in UAE, KSA and Qatar

In addition, many companies are navigating the new digital divide and facing an increasingly competitive landscape; thus it is vital for retailers to keep up with evolving technologies and consumer behavior. Omni channel is perhaps the best way to move forward. Retailers now need to map the customer’s journey and ensure a seamless and consistent experience at every touch point.