How Saudi Arabians will shop the sales this Black Friday

How Saudi Arabians will shop the sales this Black Friday
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How Saudi Arabians will shop the sales this Black Friday
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How Saudi Arabians will shop the sales this Black Friday
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Updated 22 November 2018

How Saudi Arabians will shop the sales this Black Friday

How Saudi Arabians will shop the sales this Black Friday

DUBAI: As consumers across the region become more cost-conscious and less brand-loyal, purchasing behaviors are changing, with online shopping taking center-stage.
And with Black Friday sales growing 1,250 percent compared to a regular Friday in countries such as Saudi Arabia, according to recent research, this year’s occasion is expected to bring a surge in online buyers.
“It’s very clear that today’s shoppers have become accustomed to doing their own research to get the maximum value out of every penny they spend,” said Sarah Jones, founder of Sprii, an online shopping destination for mothers based in the region. “They are using online channels to compare prices and products and to shop the widest range of products from one particular vertical or brand. Physical stores provide a viewing platform to touch, see and experience the product, however online destinations are more and more becoming the place where shoppers are transacting.” 

 

As logistics companies develop, payment gateways become more trusted and online interfaces become more advanced, the shift to online is expected to continue. “The crash in oil prices has had a trickle-down impact on the Gulf’s retail markets, leading to a fall in consumer confidence,” Jones said. “This, alongside the introduction of VAT and rising interest rates, have all had an impact. Approximately 55 percent of consumers are now actively looking for savings across markets and are tightening their belts, and retailers are feeling the impact.”
Research by Black-Friday.Global, which surveyed 12,000 people from 55 countries, found that 45 percent of Saudis will participate in Black Friday this year, spending on average 899 riyals, with the most popular items reported as being clothes, electronics and shoes. 

“Today, consumer habits are definitely being reformed by the convenience and prevalence of online shopping options, which offer an enormous wealth of brands from all over the world,” said Mohammed Baker, deputy chairman and CEO of Gulf Marketing Group. “To avoid losing ground to other innovative retail capitals, Gulf retailers – especially those with physical storefronts – need to go above and beyond the expectations of customers by concentrating on exceptional service, personalization and shopping spaces.”
He said stocking the latest, most fashionable must-have items was a priority for the region’s physical retailers over the past decade. However, as a result of economic globalization and the rise of online shopping, a course change is under way as retailers refocus on the customer experience. 
“That experience is the real determinant of business success – whether you’re an online brand, a brick and mortar shop, or both,” Baker explained. “Whether it is online or offline, service plays an undeniable role in creating memorable customer experiences. Going the extra mile and training your employees to deliver to the highest service standards will help retailers secure loyalty and maintain a competitive edge.”

Gulf retailers need to go beyond customer expectations to offer exceptional service and personalization


He gave the example of a new generation of customer relationship management solutions that are paving the way for more personalized retail journeys. With real-time insight into customers’ preferences, purchasing habits, interest in promotions and others, retailers are able to create a single, consistent brand experience across physical and digital touch points. “One edge that local brick and mortar retailers have over e-commerce is that they can deliver a physical experience not yet possible through digital channels,” he added. 
“The physical environment has an enormous impact on the way that your customer feels and interacts with your merchandise. We’re going to see a lot more emphasis in the future on how lighting, sounds, textures and scents can bring people from a busy shopping mall, for example, into your own unique retail experience.”
The emergence of the online market in recent years, accompanying the rise of the Internet as a trend, has led to a complete shift in buying habits, methods and routines of customers that can be attributed to a variety of reasons. 
“Naturally, more and more consumers love the idea of going shopping without actually having to go anywhere,” said Lucas Jiang, general manager of TP-Link MEA FZE, which provides cloud solutions. “The convenience of it all, be it the cashless payments, easy returns, reverse pick-ups or just the ability to shop from your couch, is driving consumer shopping online and rapidly so, creating more disruption in the retail industry.”

 

In the future, Jiang expects technology to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping in the region, to eventually merge into a unique eco-system where retailers will have an extensive online presence, and e-commerce portals will get on the ground to give physicality to their brands. “Robotics and the Internet of Things will play a crucial role in shaping the way the retail world changes,” he said. “Consumer behavior is continuously evolving, and the way consumers interact with retailers is rapidly changing. Technology needs to be leveraged to design consumer experiences that integrate the offerings of a retail store as well as an e-commerce portal.”
Narendra Menon, managing director of Nikon ME, said the trend of shopping has changed drastically in the last five years, with consumers becoming increasingly aware and prudent about their purchases. “People are also conscious about their income, thus more measured decisions have started to take place,” he said. “They have become smarter and like to make well-informed purchase decisions. Things that drove consumers earlier, like advertisements and in-store sales talk, don’t work anymore – they like doing their own homework and research, mostly online, and they really seem to enjoy this new, extended purchase journey.” 
This type of shopping gives consumers more control over their decisions, along with convenience. Heavy discount sales, such as the ones witnessed on Black Friday, have also become a trend, giving brands the opportunity to launch new items at a time when they can reach the most consumers. “With the changing fundamentals of brick and mortar and phenomenal growth of e-commerce, the trend of sales has changed,” Menon said. “Though e-commerce is still growing, it is yet to settle in the Gulf region. It is imperative to understand that the countries in the Gulf are mostly cash-driven and the consumers have yet not entirely been able to place their trust in the e-commerce system.” 
There are many obstacles still to face, Menon pointed out. “The last-mile delivery is still an issue in this region as the addresses are not unified yet, and the preference of cash-on-delivery as a payment method instead of online payment has its own challenges as well.” 
While e-commerce will continue to grow, Menon said a physical address will always have value in the region.

“Malls are a part of the lifestyle in Gulf countries. Even in Saudi Arabia, the number of new malls is increasing and opening a path for ground retailers to tap into every consumer.”
He spoke of retailers trying to enhance the experience they offer customers with the use of the latest technology, such as virtual screens that help consumers pick their outfit color. “More such innovations through artificial intelligence are about to happen,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how the whole dynamics pan out.”
With consumer choice on the rise, the experiential part of retail is said to have seen the largest improvement, whether online or in a store. “That is the only way to get a share of the customer’s wallet,” said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer for Jacky’s Retail LLC. “Retail overall has undergone several changes, some of it caused by online shopping but also by the way retail dynamics in the region operate. With a lot of brands, retail formats and retail real estate, retailers have had to do overall a lot more to win over a consumer.” 
He said consumers are always going to expect more, and “it is our job as retailers to deliver more. For a retailer, the investment cycle will continue to accelerate and for most consumers, they will reach a stage where the better experience at the right price eventually wins their business.”

Decoder

Black Friday

Black Friday is known as the day which follows Thanksgiving Day in the United States, the fourth Thursday of November, which has been seen as the start of the country’s Christmas shopping season since 1952. Although not an official holiday, Black Friday has become one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

FASTFACTS

Black Friday in the Middle East

For the Middle East, the UAE’s version of Black Friday started as a White Friday campaign back in 2014 by souq.com, with massive discounts for four days in November. This year, the e-commerce site announced its largest event yet, with more than two million deals, offers and discounts of up to 70 percent customized for the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, while the newer noon.com is offering discounts of up to 80 percent on what it’s calling Yellow Friday.


Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 896 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 438

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 11 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,834.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 970 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 405,940 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,508 remain active and 1,087 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 438, followed by Makkah with 227, the Eastern Province with 131, Madinah recorded 37, and Asir confirmed 28 cases.

The ministry also announced that 896 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 389,598.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 141 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.01 million.


AlUla says sustainability key to future growth

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth
Updated 40 min 42 sec ago

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth
  • Saudi Arabia’s ancient site declares a series of projects dedicated to the future

AlUla, the ancient valley in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region, home to 200,000 years of still largely unexplored human history, continues to play a central role in the Kingdom’s tourism strategy.

In a bid to pave the way for the area’s future growth, the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices.

“At the RCU, we are constantly looking for new ways to engage and work with our expert partners, stakeholders, and the AlUla community,” Amr Almadani, CEO of RCU, told Arab News. “Our success is driven by these ever- deepening collaborations. These local and global perspectives continually push us as we work to deliver on our objectives towards the goal of sustainable development in AlUla, and more broadly, contributing to the diversification efforts outlined in Vision 2030.”

Dr Maliha Hashimi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM. (Supplied)

RCU is pursuing a carbon-neutral strategy, supported by the basic principles of a circular economy. It also announced that it will build infrastructure that will help create tens of thousands of jobs, and will empower the local community by providing training and opportunities for new career paths.

AlUla’s new sustainable approach to its future will be discussed during a panel, the first in a series titled “At the crossroads: people and planet: can AlUla unlock a sustainable future?” on April 2 with panelists dialing in from AlUla and virtually. It will focus on integrated, 360-degree approaches to sustainability, where experts will discuss the complex layers, synergies, and conflicts of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. 

Panelists include businessman and entrepreneur Alejandro Agag, former prime minister of Italy Matteo Renzi; architect and leader in sustainable design, William McDonough; James Hardcastle, the director of IUCN’s Green List ; Carlos Duarte, a leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography; Gérard Mestrallet, the Executive Chairman of Afalula, the French agency for Alula Development. Both Renzi and Mestrallet are members of the RCU advisory board. 

Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices. (Supplied)

“When we think of sustainability, we look to the civilizations of the past for inspiration,” added Almadani. “We seek to apply innovative approaches to ancient wisdom to come up with new ways to protect AlUla’s natural landscape and its people and secure its legacy in the years to come. This is the core inspiration of Crossroads, using the past to chart the best path into the future.”

Through Crossroads, RCU aims to bring together global experts across all sectors to challenge and fine tune its ideas regarding sustainability, pertaining to the ancient region’s future growth.

Proposed by RCU as “solution-driven” discussions, the panels will touch on key elements of its “Journey Through Time” masterplan, outlining the first and most important phase of AlUla’s development.

“The topic of integrated sustainability is being discussed at the forefront of all development projects currently underway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Dr Maliha Hashimi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s planned cross-border city in the Tabuk province, as well as the first Crossroads panel’s moderator, told Arab News. 

“As we work towards a better, more sustainable future for our people, our environment, and our economic systems, we must embrace new technologies and solutions, but also understand the lessons and traditions of the past.”


Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

RIYADH: Governor of Riyadh Prince Faisal Bin Bandar will patronize on Monday the closing ceremony of the National Cultural Awards Initiative.

The ceremony, organized by the Ministry of Culture, will take place at the Culture Palace in the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh.

Winners of the initiative awards will be announced in the various categories of cultural activities. 

The initiative includes 14 cultural awards: the Cultural Personality of the Year Award, Youth Cultural Award, Cultural Institutions Award, as well as Film Award, Fashion Award, Music Award, National Heritage Award, Literature Award, Theater and Performing Arts Award, Visual Arts Award, Architecture and Design Award, Culinary Arts Award, Publishing Award, and Translation Award.

The Ministry of Culture organized the National Cultural Awards initiative as part of the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, one of the Saudi Vision 2030 programs.


Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination
Updated 19 April 2021

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination
  • King Salman ordered a speedy transfer
  • The conjoined twins are expected to arrive within the next few days

DUBAI: Yemeni conjoined twins “Yousuf and Yassin” will finally get the necessary medical examinations they need after King Salman ordered for their direct transfer from Yemen to Riyadh for the possibility of a separation surgery.
King Salman ordered a speedy transfer for the twins and their parents, the General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center and renowned pediatric surgeon Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Rabiah said.
The conjoined twins are expected to arrive within the next few days, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.
King Salman has previously ordered the transfer of conjoined twins from Mauritania to travel to Saudi Arabia to separate them. Their father, who accompanied them, said the procedures for transferring the twins to Riyadh were carried out easily.


Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
  • The train accident left 97 wounded after it derailed off its tracks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it expresses its deep sorrow for the train accident north of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
A passenger train derailed earlier on Sunday in the city of Toukh in Qalyubia province, injuring around 100 people.
“The Kingdom expresses its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the Egyptian leadership, government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Four train wagons ran off the railway while the train was traveling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from Cairo, Egypt’s railway authority said.
(With AP)