Top five trends shaping KSA retail industry

Saudis visit the International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center in the capital Riyadh on December 4, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Top five trends shaping KSA retail industry

  • Artificial intelligence can identify consumer preferences with great accuracy

RIYADH: The Kingdom has a vast, young, tech-savvy population that is shifting behavior in Saudi Arabia, according to Ahmed Reda, MENA consumer industry leader for Ernst and Young (EY).
EY worked with more than 200 business leaders, futurists and industry experts through its FutureConsumer.Now program (FCN) to map the buying habits of consumers. “We asked questions such as how will consumers shop, eat, stay healthy, live, use technology, play, work and move in the future?” Reda said.
Here are some of the key trends powering the shift in consumer behavior and the retail industry in the GCC’s largest consumer base.
Data analytics and AI transforming traditional retail models: The new breed of GCC consumer expects a highly personalized experience. This will be even more critical as brand loyalty declines among GCC consumers. As analytics tools become increasingly sophisticated, the value of personalized data will grow. Artificial intelligence can identify consumer preferences with great accuracy.
Brands need to implement omnichannel strategies: In markets such as Saudi Arabia, which has some of the most affluent consumers, omnichannel strategies (any time, any place) are vital for companies to craft a user experience that cuts across online shopping, social media, mobile apps and conventional stores.
Physical stores still have a place: Online shopping has reduced the need for people to visit shops. Physical stores will still be a powerful asset if they are used for more than shopping. Retailers have a portfolio of well-located spaces that can be repurposed.
Rise of e-commerce: Physical stores won’t disappear, but the high penetration of smartphones and digital services has transformed the behavior of GCC consumers.
Value-seeking behavior after VAT: In a market that has been tax-free, the introduction of VAT, even at a relatively low rate of 5 percent, has caused a shift in consumer behavior. The average Saudi consumer is more cost-conscious than ever. Companies that can tap into additional value through economies of scale, or provide greater convenience, will reap the rewards. 


Fraud alert over cryptocurrency falsely linked to Saudi Arabia

Updated 21 August 2019
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Fraud alert over cryptocurrency falsely linked to Saudi Arabia

  • The website of a cryptocurrency company is promoting what it calls the CryptoRiyal and SmartRiyal
  • The Singapore-based company uses the Saudi emblem of two crossed swords and a palm tree

JEDDAH: Fraudsters are trying to lure victims into investing in a “virtual currency” with false claims that it is linked to the Saudi riyal and will be used to finance key projects, the Saudi Ministry of Finance warned on Tuesday.

The website of a cryptocurrency company in Singapore is promoting what it calls the CryptoRiyal and SmartRiyal, using the Saudi emblem of two crossed swords and a palm tree. Its “ultimate goal” is to finance NEOM, the smart city and tourist destination being built in the north of the Kingdom, the company claims.

“Any use of the KSA name, national currency or national emblem by any entity for virtual or digital currencies marketing will be subject to legal action by the competent authorities in the Kingdom,” the ministry said on Tuesday.

The fraudsters were exploiting ignorance of how virtual currencies work, cryptocurrency expert Dr. Assad Rizq told Arab News.

“A lot of tricks can be played,” he said. “Some of these companies are not regulated, they have no assets, and even their prospectus is sometimes copied from other projects.

“They hype and pump their project so the price goes up. Inexpert investors, afraid of missing out, jump in, which spikes the price even higher. Then the owners sell up and make tons of money.

“Cryptocurrencies are a risky investment for two reasons. First, the sector is not yet fully regulated and a lot of projects use fake names and identities, such as countries’ names or flags, to manipulate investors.

“Second, you have to do your homework, learn about the technology. And if you still want to invest, consider your country’s rules and regulations.”