In the middle of the growing e-commerce world, consumers are becoming more demanding of retailers and have higher expectations. Shopping malls and department stores are not enough anymore, their potential demise is eminent in the face of today’s technology and e-commerce world.

In the U.S, a significant number of stores have been closing since the beginning of the year, big names like Michael Kors, J.C. Penny, Macy’s and Abercrombie & Fitch have announced shuttering of some of their stores. Credit Suisse projects that about 8,640 U.S. stores across retail will close by the end of year, and they predict an increase in e-commerce shopping from 17% now to 35% of clothing sales by 2030. Most trends begin to appear in the US and the rest of the world soon follows. The growing popularity of e-commerce around the world has made its way to us and so we witnessed the launch of many e-retailers. An increase in e-commerce in the GCC is expected, due to the high internet penetration (92% in the UAE and 65% in Saudi Arabia). for instance was launched back in 2005 and has been well received by shoppers across the gulf, until being bought out by Inc. for a total of $580 million. This buyout shows the attraction of e-retail market leaders to the potential that our market holds, placing real market share threat on all retail businesses in the region.

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Given that Emaar is the operator of the largest Mall in the world, Dubai Mall and other Mall properties, nothing highlights this threat more clearly than the investment made by Emaar’s Chairman in, a $1B startup that plans to change the face of e-commerce in the region.

On one side, one could write off physical retail and focus only on e-commerce. And you would be dead wrong to do so. The reality is that the future will be won by those who are able to tether the two (or more) channels together in a way that provides the consumer with a great shopping experience.

Physical stores with a strong following and a strong brand continue to have an advantage. They need to get their head out of the sand and start planning for the future of retail. A future that combines marketing, entertainment, and technology all in one! Physical retailers must focus on the following if they desire to compete and thrive in the future:


A consumer’s shopping experience is one of the main determinants for a repeat visit. Enhancing in-story experience can be achieved by the combination of retail with entertainment. This could be done by simply setting a “mood” that reflects the stores brand image. Retailtainment can be achieved using ambience, emotion, music and activities, that gets the customers interested in the merchandise and put them in the right mood to buy.

Mobile Payment Solutions

An overcrowded cash register is what all customers dread, a process that mobile payment solutions can make simple and more fun. Mobile payments don’t necessarily require complicated technologies and should be easy to implement. The implementation of a mobile payment solution could aid in the following:

  1. Integrating incentive programs thus eliminating the need to issue loyalty cards to users using mobile payments.
  2. Connecting the system to the company’s database would allow retailers to keep track of customer trends and shopping habits.


With all the clutter out there, personalization is one way from retailers to make sure they are “heard”. Personalization of a shopping experience is done through personalizing both messages and offerings. Large retailers have enough customer data in their database to personalize messages and offerings based on customer preferences and shopping behaviors. Moreover, it’s crucial to offer the right products, rather than hammering all visitors with all products available.


Omnichannel has been used as a buzz word across the marketing and retail industry. However, it is crucial for Retail strategist to understand that it’s not simply achieved by creating an e-commerce channel. A true omnichannel approach allows a customer to interact with the brand or the retailer seamlessly across any channel or method they choose to (or they’re enabled to). This means that sales, marketing, customer service, and even supply chain are all interconnected with a centralized 360 degree view of the customer. Omnichannel is achieved through technology but requires a Strategist to map out the approach and the overall vision.

Data Analysis

Once a retailer is able to capture the data across all aspects of their business and assess it in light of their 360 view of the customer, they develop a significant competitive advantage. Data analysis goes far beyond the click stream or the social media, it includes operational data, physical retail experience, supplier integration, and so much more. Those retailers who recognize this fact and invest in it will soon develop a relationship with the customer that goes well beyond the few minutes they spend in the store or on their page!

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