Summit urges retailers to use technology
Dubai, October 25, 2011
Retailers in the Gulf need to do more to take advantage of the advances in technology that are reshaping the sector worldwide, a verdict from the region’s top retail leaders who gathered for the InRetail Summit said.
The InRetail Summit, held as part of Index, the Mena region’s largest and longest established Interiors and Design Exhibition, took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
The opening session of the summit saw a stellar panel featuring Mohi Din Bin Hendi, president of BinHendi Enterprises, Simon Marshal, CEO of Fawaz alHokair, Mohammed Al Fahim, CEO of Paris Gallery Group, Salah Al Shamsi, former president of the UAE federation of Chamber of Commerce, Nisreen Shocair, president of Virgin Mena, and Nilesh Khalkho, CEO of Sharaf DG, discuss the Shape of Middle East Retail 2011-2015.
The rise in E-commerce, increasing smartphone penetration and the introduction of RFID chips were some of the challenges that retailers are grappling with, from the supply chain level right through to customer service.
“There is no doubt technology is king, but there is confusion because technology is developing so fast to keep up with it becomes a real heavy investment,” Bin Hendi said.
It can also be divisive, he added. “A lot of people will pull you to the side saying ‘this system is better’. You always have different opinions in management, and that needs to addressed. But definitely, technology is the name of the game.”
While all agreed that technology was vital, how to harness new technologies still posed challenges. When it came to RFID, a technology that promised to cut shrinkage in inventory, the top executives of Virgin and Sharaf DG both said the technology had fallen short in that regard, but had proved extremely useful at the logistics sides, the statement said.
Addressing other challenges faced by the industry, the panelists agreed that, in Dubai at least, retail space was saturated, and that older malls that may be struggling needed to differentiate better and market themselves to specific demographics.
“In today’s market, it’s all about differentiation, and giving the right customer what they want,” said Al Shamsi told delegates.
A total of 100 senior retailers attended the summit over three days, discussing topics such as adapting to new consumer buying habits, improving products to better appeal to customers and navigating the new retail realities. – TradeArabia News Service