Salim M.A – Director at Lulu Group
As the retail industry picks up in the UAE, we notice fast-tracked changes in customers’ shopping behavior from in-store to online and the shifting trends leading them back to physical stores. We are hence adjusting our offering from retail therapy online to retail with in-store and in-mall experiences.
To meet these increased customer expectations, traditional malls and retailers have to evolve quickly to meet their customers’ needs to survive and see the future of malls and retail in a ‘new normal’ world.
With in-store footfall back on the rise, many retailers are focused on creating new and compelling ways to engage customers who have been steadily using e-commerce but are now returning to physical stores. An important part of the in-store experience is ensuring a fast, convenient and frictionless checkout, as well as providing an intuitive store or mall layout that customers can easily navigate.
In our internal discussions, we look at how malls reinvent retail and rapidly transform with attractions, and events to remain relevant and get shoppers back to malls, bearing in mind customers’ priorities have switched to safety, convenience, and exceptional experiences.
Shopping malls in the UAE will have to rethink their business model and introduce disruptive changes in their offering, service and monetization strategy. While we welcome most of our customers back into the stores, there is a large group who have tasted the convenience of having their shopping delivered to the door.
Hence it is now time for retailers to recalibrate their understanding of customers whose shopping patterns are increasingly moving from bricks to clicks. Consumers can browse the website or app to get real-time inventory at the store location closest to them, and the on-site pickup experience is facilitated smoothly through the mobile app.
The world is well-connected and tech savvy and brand conscious shoppers are spoilt for choice, and are able to shop globally from the comfort of their homes. Therefore, retailers need effective omnichannel strategies that address the entire supply chain; from that first click right through to delivery. As retailers, we have long accepted e-commerce as a given part of our business, but we still plan to accelerate omnichannel retailing that is customer centric as we want customers to enjoy a smooth experience across different channels.
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