‘Technology key to Gulf’s retail sector’s post-COVID-19 recovery,’ retailers told

Studies have shown how the pandemic forced Gulf consumers to adapt to new technology. (File/Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 23 July 2020

‘Technology key to Gulf’s retail sector’s post-COVID-19 recovery,’ retailers told

  • Retail sector officials and experts noted a shift in consumer behavior in the region

DUBAI: Technology will play a crucial role for the recovery of the Gulf’s $275.4-billion retail sector after the COVID-19 pandemic pushed global industries to the wall, experts have said in an online retail event.

Retail sector officials and experts noted a shift in consumer behavior in the region, adding how latest technology and digital transformation are now key to unlocking the market’s potential.

A recent survey conducted by Ernst & Young in May 2020 found that 92 percent of consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have changed their shopping habits – including shifting to online purchase.

“Technology will drive digital initiatives. Good customer experience will come from an innovation mindset, driven using different technology tools,” Piyush Kumar Chowhan, Group Chief Information Officer, Lulu Group International, the largest retailer in the Gulf.

He added data and artificial intelligence could “nurture the growth of the retail sector.”

Studies have shown how the pandemic forced Gulf consumers to adapt to new technology – including to contactless payments and remote shopping through mobile applications.

The Visa CEMEA Impact Tracker has shown a shift to online commerce, with cash transactions being replaced by digital payments. The survey found many consumers in the UAE started shopping online for the first time.

Saudi Arabia’s Bin Dawood Group reported 400 percent jump in app downloads while online sales jumped 200 percent in just a few weeks.

While these new methods become prominent, Youssef Olama, Information Technology Director at Spinneys Egypt, warned of one of its dangers – breach of privacy for consumers.

“Technology is undoubtedly the key to future business growth. Data science will be important to understand market trends and leverage them within the business. But we should avoid tracking customers. Privacy has to be well-defined in terms of data usage,” he said.


Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

Updated 14 August 2020

Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

  • Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store
  • Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games

NEW YORK: Apple and Google dropped the popular game Fortnite from their app stores after the game’s developer introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms.
Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games, which has long been a sore spot with developers.
Fortnite is free, but users can pay for in game accoutrements like weapons and skins. Its developer, Epic Games, said in a blog post Thursday that it was introducing Epic Direct payments, a direct payment plan for Apple’s iOS and Google Play. Epic said the system is the same payment system it already uses to process payments on PC and Mac computers and Android phones.
Apple and Google said the service violates their guidelines.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services,” Apple said in statement.
Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store. Android users can download the app from other app stores, although that’s generally not an option for iPhone users.
Epic Games did not immediately return a request for comment. Epic’s Fortnite Twitter account said the company would debut a new short film called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” a seeming parody of Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. It has also filed a complaint against Apple in the US District Court in Northern California for dropping Fortnite.