Retail, UAE

AI and VR: game-changers for UAE retail sector

Anurag Bajpai, KPMG
Anurag Bajpai, KPMG

Almost half of UAE CEOs in the retail industry intend to start using artificial intelligence (AI) in the next two years, as they are increasingly influenced by technology to enhance the retail store experience for customers.

This is according to the 2018 Global Consumer Executive Top of Mind survey, ‘No Normal is the New Normal’ jointly conducted by KPMG International and The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF).

Global CEOs however were less optimistic about the adoption of AI, with only 24 per cent expressing intent to start using AI over the next few years. They were also less confident about the prospects of technology in retail, with 48 per cent saying that brands would use technology to enhance the retail store experience. This is in stark contrast with UAE CEOs, who were confident of harnessing technology to transform the customer experience in-store.

Even when it comes to the overarching theme of business transformation, 80 percent of UAE CEOs said they planned to prioritize it over the next two years versus 57.5 per cent of CEOs globally.

As changing customer behaviors and shifting demographics contribute to sustained margin pressures, shorter strategy cycles and increased expectations from customers, companies are ramping up to embrace digital and AI technologies underpinned by data and analytics.

This shift is helping boost margins, customer centricity, agility and efficiency by replacing or augmenting some human activities with technology, and by shifting technology to the cloud.

Anurag Bajpai, Head of Retail, KPMG Lower Gulf, said, “We are envisaging a major push towards embracing technology to enhance the retail experience. The next few years in the UAE may see more brands adopt AI, VR and connected technology to transform the in-store experience and integrate online and offline experiences. The 2018 Top of Mind Survey finds an industry aggressively navigating a sea of change, where retailers and manufacturers appear to be radically rethinking their strategy, culture and processes and becoming more agile as they focus on growth.”

Globally, the Top of Mind survey found that some of the most significant variables that manufacturers and retailers may have to consider include how they reach the consumer, what technology they need, whether they want to do everything themselves and how they react to disruptive new competitors.

The decline in brand loyalty was also identified by 29 percent of companies and was deemed to be driven by psychological, sociological and technological factors.

The survey also found that there is a direct correlation between how customer centric a company is and how fast it grows profits and revenues. In fact, 46 percent of customer-centric companies ranked connecting with consumers round-the-clock as a top priority.

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