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

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. 


Penguins and an ice rink to be part of Riyadh’s winter show

More than 300 trailers have been shipped from all over Europe to Riyadh for the English-style winter carnival. (AN photo/Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 16 October 2019

Penguins and an ice rink to be part of Riyadh’s winter show

  • More than 250 workers are busy setting it up in one of Riyadh’s busiest areas

RIYADH: Snow parks, penguins and ice-skating rinks are common winter attractions in cities with the weather to match — but Riyadh?

Still, there’s a first time for everything, and Riyadh Season is giving the Saudi capital the opportunity to prove it with the opening on Oct. 20 of Winter Wonderland.

More than 300 trailers have been shipped from all over Europe to Riyadh for the English-style winter carnival, and more than 250 workers are busy setting it up in one of Riyadh’s busiest areas.

The site, against the stunning backdrop of the King Abdullah Financial District skyscrapers, will accommodate up to 40,000 visitors a day. “It is challenging, but it is wonderful to be here,” events director Edward Mellors told Arab News. “We are really enjoying it. It’s nice to be involved in bringing such a big project to a country like this.”

As well as the snow park, the ice rink and the penguins, attractions include a Marvel excursion, with Iron Man and other superheroes from the franchise.

“We have been sourcing these rides from all over the world, getting them together and making lots of deals, getting them on ships,” said Mellors. “I can’t think of any one challenge that has been the biggest, but with all of them put together, it has been a mountain.”