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SPECIAL REPORT

McGarrigle: Understanding customer behavior
is the top priority for retailers

Global retail leaders upbeat about growth in region

DUBAI, April 6, 2017

Nearly 20 per cent of the global retail industry’s leaders said they were most upbeat about their prospects in the region – up 4 per cent year-on-year, according to a survey released on the eve of the World Retail Congress in Dubai, UAE.

However, the biggest increase in optimism was about India. Some 12 per cent of those responding to the poll regarded India as having the best growth prospects, up from 6 per cent a year ago.

Other key findings in the Global Retail Sentiment Index conducted by Monash Business School in Melbourne, for the World Retail Congress were a sharp drop in confidence in Western Europe which almost a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents thought had the bleakest prospects this year, compared with just 14 per cent a year ago.

The UK’s prospects were broken out for the first time with 11 per cent believing it had the worst growth prospects of any market. It seems likely that the political backdrop to the region played a part in this, with the uncertainties of how Brexit will impact both the UK and other European economies, and elections in several key countries also due to take place this year probably being a factor.

The online survey was completed by a total of 107 global retail leaders, CEOs and chairmen, and other senior directors at businesses with revenues ranging from under $50 million to more than $1 billion.

The survey revealed that the forecast for retail sales expectations over the next 12-month period is generally positive with market optimism remaining relatively stable compared with 2016. Asked to grade their level of optimism on a scale of -5 (very pessimistic) to +5 (very optimistic), the average response was +1.0, up from the previous mark of 0.9.

Studying the individual retail channels, physical stores still dominate retail sales with a 77 per cent market share, followed by online sales with 11 per cent, mobile sales at 8 per cent, and social media at 2 per cent. Taking a closer look at the individual channels, however, online has seen the biggest growth with 65 per cent of respondents saying it was their biggest area of sales growth in the last 12 months, followed by 49 per cent highlighting growth in sales via mobile phones and tablets.

In terms of what retailers believe will have the single biggest impact on their businesses, it is clear that enhancing the customer experience is the highest on their agenda, with three of the top four responses being customer focused: customer loyalty came out on top, scoring 5.5 on a scale of 1 to 7, closely followed by product development, expansion and mobile channel development.

Similarly, when asked what they regard as their top priorities for the coming year, three of the top four responses were again customer-centric: understanding customer behaviour came top with a score of 40 per cent of the sample report viewing it as business priority in the next 12 months, with analyzing customer data in 3rd place at 37 per cent and developing online channels 4th with 36 per cent viewing each as a business priority in the next 12 months. Only supply chain management (in 2nd place with a score of 38 per cent) could be considered more logistical in nature.

Ian McGarrigle, founder and chairman of World Retail Congress said: “The World Retail Congress is dedicated to providing insight to help shape the retail future. Our partnership with ACRS to create the Global Retail Sentiment Index showcases this commitment as it provides detailed information from international industry leaders helping retailer with their strategic planning.

“The findings of the report make for fascinating reading, and resonate strongly with the theme of this year’s World Retail Congress – ‘Reimagining the customer experience’. It is clear that retailers understand the importance of knowing their customer, because only with such knowledge can they offer the perfect experience, both online and in the store,” he added.

Sean Sands, associate professor at Monash Business School, said: “Over the past 5 years, the Global Retail Sentiment Index has shown fluctuations in global retail optimism and consumer confidence; in 2017 it is great to see these metrics rebound with a slight increase. There is no doubt that in an increasingly digital and technology driven market place that globally, retailers are placing an emphasis on the customer experience and enhancing the value proposition to customers beyond purely data or tech-enabled paradigms.”

The World Retail Congress was launched in 2007, to be a platform for senior retail executives to meet and discuss the most important topics affecting retailers across the world. It has been held in Barcelona (2007-9), Berlin (2010-11), London (2012), Paris (2013-14), Rome (2015) and Dubai (2016) and is attended by over 1,400 attendees from more than 60 countries. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Dubai | World Retail Congress |

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