Technology is accelerating change in retail, new report from CRTKL says

CallisonRTKL predicts key trends for retail sector

CallisonRTKL (CRTKL), a global cultural agency specialising in architecture, planning and design, has published a report identifying the key trends for the technological evolution in retail.

According to the report, physical retail environments are simplifying in-person transactions. Enabled by mobile digital tools, they are offering more bespoke, localised and service-based experiences. Furthermore, retailers are looking to leverage data to drive customer personalisation and look at past purchases or preferences to target future purchases.

Paul Firth, Associate Principal at CRTKL commented: “Technology is accelerating change in retail with personalised shopping giving customers an authentic and convenient experience. The pandemic demonstrated the demand for digital shopping and retailers who harness the power of technology to enhance service-based experiences will thrive.”

The MENA region is expected to see e-commerce growth of over $18bn in absolute value terms over 2021-2025 reaching over $49bn by 2025, the report added.

The regional retail industry has been witnessing a massive transformation as a result of evolving consumer expectations and rapid adoption of new technologies. It is expected that by 2025, the UAE’s retail e-commerce market value alone will reach $8bn and grow with a CAGR of 15.4 per cent from 2020 to 2025, it continued.

According to the CRTKL report, three new concepts are driving change in the Middle East retail market:

The store’s new role

Focusing on key themes of escapism, sustainability, access to nature and multi-sensory experiences, the store, in 2022 and beyond, will elevate the conversation beyond any one purchase, tapping into the lifestyle and well-being aspirations of its clientele through seamless and responsive technology. Technology within the physical store will focus on digitizing operations and enabling employees to deliver a more personalized shopping experience where product advice and brand advocacy come across with greater authenticity.

Reconfiguring big box retailers to benefit high street and shopping mall

Many big-box retailers are adaptively reusing suburban shopping malls that buckled due to e-commerce and mandatory lockdowns as fulfilment centres for online sales. The evolution of this is a drone port concept that favours the repurposing of sites in a way that is still related to retail and capable of adding more value to the community. The future is a 1,200 sq. ft customizable canvas, a modular pop-up, an incubator-style hub – flexible and shares spaces where local suppliers, brands, makers, creators and more can take up daily rotations and seasonal residencies.

Future of pop-ups

Born out of the lock-down and social restrictions that characterised the past few years, pop-ups are now maturing and transforming under-utilized public space into new commercial opportunities. No longer simply a marketing tool, they now act as integrated retail solutions that allows retailers, brands, and Food and Beverage (F&B) groups alike to strategically reposition and compete with the on-demand economy that is changing the retailer’s business model. They will continue to provide a controlled, adaptable, sustainable and cost-effective way for brands, retailers and operators to ‘beta test’ the next evolution of store and product services without making permanent, costly changes that may not resonate in new locations or suit changing consumer behaviours.

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