The Retail discussion that was shaped by the Dubai School of Government and Armada Distribution Company involved many of the movers and shakers in the Retail Sector. The event focused on the short-and medium-term retail environment in the country.
Kicking off with the Head of Retail MENA, Jones Long LaSalle, David Macadam stated that UAE’s retail supply is set to grow by approximately six million square feet of Gross Leasable Area (GLA) by 2013, and demand for retail space making a healthy comeback at three to five per cent annual increase, the focus is once again on this industry to become a key growth sector in the region.
During the panel discussion Robert Keay addressed the importance of customer service in the retail sector and how it is an important economic measure. Footfall was the theme for the day and Robert Keay continued to give scenarios on how various elements are measured by the retail sectors such as traffic, sales performance and conversions. “But no one seems to be measuring the lack of conversion, why customers don’t purchase. They don’t measure employee performance, the way they should.” The retail environment is changing and with that there is a change in the experience that the customers go through in the purchasing process, added the Managing Director of Ethos Consultancy. “There is a level of inconsistency in retail. You cannot guarantee a particular level of performance when you go shopping, except for a few brands.”
The topic of discussion then shifted on how it is the job of the retailer to make the sale. The people (employees) that make the sale are the people that serve the customers, and this is the key area of performance. Robert Keay continued to lay stress on the importance of having the right person with the right experience in the right position. People with experience in the wrong field are being placed in the wrong environment. As such there is an imbalance of what the brand is trying to achieve in terms of how it’s trying to serve the customers.
“Understanding not only what your customers want but also understanding what your employees want. It has nothing to do with culture or nationality, it has everything to do with management and language and making sure everyone is speaking the same language”.
The panel discussion also featured Shahram Shamsaee, Senior Vice-President – Shopping Malls, MAF Group, who spoke about issues related to customer service, Elio Pacheco, Director General, Evian Volvic Exports, who spoke on visual merchandising, and Susan Crotty, Assistant Professor at the Dubai School of Government, who explored the academic research on multicultural management and teamwork. Ruchdi Abou Haka, Regional Vice-President – Food and Beverage, Azadea Group, offered insights into consumer behavior.