Saudi retail shopping remains preferred over online, says EY official

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The vast majority of purchases remain offline and in store — and will continue to do so for years.
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Ahmed Reda, MENA consumer products and retail leader at EY.
Updated 04 October 2017
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Saudi retail shopping remains preferred over online, says EY official

RIYADH: Despite the growing developments in online shopping, Ahmed Reda, MENA consumer products and retail leader at EY, ruled out that online shopping will take over retail in the Kingdom.
In an exclusive statement to Arab News, Reda said industry watchers and shoppers love to ask whether online shopping will take over retail. “The discussion that follows is usually passionate. Common convention is that the young generation will drive this change.”
He explained that despite the perpetual growth of online shopping, the in-store experience remains critical.
“Shopping has changed a lot since the rise of the Web. E-commerce is booming around the world, providing both customers and retailers with many benefits — convenience, speed and a better understanding of spending and consumption habits that can help both retailers and consumers respond to their spending patterns.” Yet, he said that the vast majority of purchases remain offline and in-store — and will continue to do so for years.
“We have our favorite homegrown Saudi brands and international brands that many of us grew up with, continue to enjoy and have remained loyal to.”
However, he said: “We are seeing more retailers move away from making the product the hero to making experiences the heroes, which reflects the move toward a service economy.”
It isn’t just about the “experiential” experience in flagship stores, but everyday transaction experiences. For example, he pointed out that the customers who order online for an in-store delivery will be unhappy if the item they ordered is not there at the pick-up time or if it takes a long time to locate. Moreover, if they choose to venture into a store, they lose confidence if sales associates cannot quickly find the product information that customers can easily access on their mobile phones.
The role of the store is becoming more complex, important and demanding — a combination of fulfilment center, showroom and theater. In this era of information, personal knowledge and interaction is the silver bullet. For some categories, he noted that customers now expect to be able to interact with the product and talk to someone who is an expert.
Retail customers expect shopping to be a singular experience, not separate interactions in different channels. The physical store is part of the omni-channel experience, not separate from it. In the same way, digital is not just an extension of bricks and mortar but an experience in itself.
For shopping to be a truly seamless and global experience, he said, it cannot have a breakpoint at the street level or online. Retailers need to close the loop by mimicking the digital experience in-store, he concluded.


Saudi air defenses shoot down missiles heading for Makkah and Jeddah

Updated 20 May 2019
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Saudi air defenses shoot down missiles heading for Makkah and Jeddah

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces on Monday shot down two ballistic missiles heading towards Jeddah and Makkah, Al-Arabiya reported Monday, citing eyewitnesses.

The report said the missiles were shot down near Taif, just 50 kilometers from Makkah.

Al-Arabiya said Saudi authorities are expected to issue a formal statement later.

Houthi militants in Yemen have fired dozens of missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia.

In 2016 and 2017 the Arab Coalition supporting the Yemeni government said the militia had launched a missile towards Makkah.