Are Saudi retailers missing out on more immersive shopping experiences?
The adage that the customer is king has never been more appropriate than it is today. In the past, the emphasis was on providing a high level of customer service within a fixed product range. Today’s customers are increasingly in the driving seat across the whole business, demanding not only highly differentiated, personalized products but also defining how they expect brands to interact with them at the level of both the shopping experience itself and alignment with personal values such as sustainable practice.
Within the Middle East region, the new dynamics are creating a growing tension between customers and retailers. On the one hand, customers, focused on convenience, are turning to e-commerce to find the products they want quickly and avoid the queues at retail checkout lanes. On the other, they are experiencing frustration with products purchased online that do not meet their expectations – a consequence of buying without experiencing the product firsthand at the point of purchase.
In short, customers are seeking the convenience of buying online with the confidence of buying in-store.
Retailers are facing the question of how to connect with and meet the evolving needs of this new generation of shoppers. How do they provide a retail experience that doesn’t force the customer into a compromise between confidence and convenience? And how do they do this while meeting expectations of ethical practice across the many social issues that are top of mind among today’s shoppers, especially among millennials and Generation Z buyers?
We believe that immersive and predictive technologies provide the means not only to offer highly customizable and ethically sourced products, but also to significantly enhance the in-store retail experience. Yet retailers in the region have been slow to implement these technologies. To build and maintain competitive advantage in the new era, retailers need to look at these technologies not as an add-on to their traditional business model, but as the backbone to new, hyper-responsive ways of working to attract and win the loyalty of customers that today have more choice than ever before.