Supermarkets and hypermarkets must capitalise on technological developments and create the perfect mix of instore and online offerings to meet consumer demand if they are to remain the dominant force in a rapidly evolving food and beverage retail landscape, said Ashraf Ali MA, LuLu Group International Executive Director.
He was speaking ahead of his participation in a panel discussion, panel discussion ‘Revolutionising Retail for the Changing Consumer’ at the first Gulfood Innovation Summit, a robust new conference series that will explore and examine the latest challenges and opportunities facing the industry.
The event will run alongside Gulfood 2019 – one of the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade industry forum – from February 18 to 20 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Ali said retailers should prioritise the convenience of customers as they seek to service an estimated one million extra consumers by 2030, with world population figures on track to reach 8.5 billion.
“Consumers are becoming much more educated, knowledgeable and trendy,” he stated.
“There will come a day when the one-store format won’t fit all the lifestyle preferences of your customer base. Segmentation and customisation of offerings are required to ensure convenience to customers, whether it implemented through online shopping or the traditional brick-and-mortar store,” he added.
“As retailers, it is vital to make each shopping experience memorable and convenient. Technologies should serve as an enhancement tool for introducing better shopping,” remarked Ali.
“Innovative formats, such as self-service check-out counters, cashless & card payment options, smart trolleys, click and collect on, virtual marketing, and augmented reality, all must be embraced so consumers benefit from a world-class shopping experience at the most convenient format,” he added.
Shifting consumer choices are driving retailers to think more about their offering, with the Gulfood Global Industry Outlook Report 2018 stating: “For middle to premium consumers, a shift to local and specialist stores is driving sales of premium, natural and organic foods, allowing traditional and independent grocers to maintain their market share at 26 per cent globally. All leading global retailers have also adopted omnichannel approaches to the market, with large investment establishing a strong presence in mobile retailing.”
Ali stressed that retailers must continue to listen to their customers. "People are becoming very health conscious nowadays, more aware of ecology, sustainability and the environment. These are the key elements that have been adding new dimensions to retail," he noted.
"We are continuously improving our supermarket offerings, which currently include specific categories and sections to highlight speciality products, such as natural, organic, free range, low-carb, and diet-oriented products," stated the food retail heavyweight.
The panel discussion is among an array of summit sessions that will shed light on the future direction the food industry and reinforce how Gulfood 2019 is raising the food industry forum bar, said event organisers.
"The global food and beverage industry is changing at a rapid pace with technology and consumer preferences causing huge shifts in market dynamics," remarked Trixie LohMirmand, Vice President, Exhibitions and Event, DWTC.
"The Gulfood exhibition will shine a light on the latest innovative solutions for food producers and suppliers, while the Gulfood Innovation Summit will service industry professionals with knowledge to tackle the latest and future challenges and opportunities," he stated.
“Together the exhibition and summit demonstrate why Gulfood continues to increase its worldwide appeal and is the place to be for all industry professionals,” he added.-TradeArabia News Service