New PwC report launches in conjunction with MENA's Retail Leaders Circle ahead of their event on March 25th & 26th
11 March 2019, Dubai UAE: PwC's latest report Navigating the New Retail Reality: views of Middle Eastern retail CEOs, created in collaboration with The Retail Leaders Circle MENA, has launched today ahead of the upcoming annual summit.
As the knowledge partner of The 5th Retail Leaders Circle MENA, PwC will publish the report as part of two pieces of research on the MENA retail industry. The second report will provide Middle East consumer insights from PwC's 2019 Consumer Insights Survey and will be exclusively released at the summit, which takes place from 25th-26th March at the Four Seasons Resort in Dubai, UAE.
The report sets out the views of retail CEOs from across the region, which PwC interviewed over the past year, to gain their perspectives on the market and outlook for the year ahead.
According to the findings, technology, changing consumer behaviors and an uncertain economic and geopolitical landscape were the guiding influences for CEOs' decisions this year. These trends dictated their priorities, which included — a strong push on digital (cited as top priority by 88% of the CEOs interviewed); followed by cost optimisation and restructuring (50%) and challenges around the shortage of digital talent and training (50%).
Commenting on the report, Norma Taki, Consumer Markets Leader at PwC Middle East and the report's author said:
“Change is the one constant for retail CEOs in the Middle East. Like all retailers across the world, they must keep pace with the new technology that is changing the way people consume products and services. But in the region, the changes go far beyond the disruption of online retailing: consumers are more price-sensitive today; they are less brand-loyal and economies are reforming. We hope that this study will provide a comprehensive look into consumer trends as well as the demands that need to be closely examined.
It goes without saying — technology enables transactional efficiency, faster home-delivery and stock management, but our findings also tell us that Middle East retail CEOs are still facing the greatest challenge of all - a scarcity of local digital talent and training.”
With a more cautious outlook on the economy than ever before, the survey tells us that retailers are today increasingly focused on streamlining their businesses, managing cash flows and optimizing costs.
They are also well aware of the need to build sustainable businesses for the future as well as of changing consumer demands, both of which will require agility and prudence. This is especially true when it comes to retailers' adoption of new technologies that merge traditional shopping with an online presence to produce an engaging and seamless multi-channel experience.
As online retail gathers pace, CEOs are showing commitment to continue investing in their digital channels; not only as a way to reach their customers but also to focus on the “return on experience”, now an imperative. The experiences customers share in-store and online affects the buying decisions of all of a retailers' potential customers - in our Total Retail survey 2018, 32% of respondents said they bought a product because of positive reviews on social media. This is particularly true of sectors that attract a large millennial customer base such as beauty, “athleisure”, health and wellness.
Panos Linardos, Chairman of Retail Leaders Circle Global noted:
“Each year The Retail Leaders Circle works with industry experts to release new research and reports that can help inform our delegates' business and brand growth strategy and this year we partnered with PwC again to produce the Navigating the New Retail Reality: views of Middle Eastern retail CEOs. This report has shown that in 2019 the highest priority for retailers is to create a sustainable business in a digital world. With the retail industry in a state of disruption, the annual Retail Leaders Circle MENA has become the essential destination that unites the region's C-suite leaders to deliberate the threats and opportunities that are driving our new age of retail. With our upcoming event on 25th-26th March, we will focus on the ways that retailers can evolve, both internally and externally, to adapt to the constantly changing customer behaviour using both data mining and new technologies. We look forward to welcoming our delegates later this month to share new and innovative techniques as now the onus is ultimately on retailers to produce a seamless and distinctive experience on every step of the customer journey.”
PwC's Norma Taki ended:
“The CEOs we interviewed this year all identified very similar concerns - with one common denominator: the need to adapt to change. First, how to develop the agility to respond quickly to market changes and new customer demands; how to attract and retain talent; and how to keep up with the pace of advances in digital technology, all against an increasingly uncertain macroeconomic context. That is why today, the opportunity lies in the hands of the retailers that are able to adapt, innovate and effectively compete against this still unfolding backdrop.”