Strong opportunities are emerging for private sector firms in Saudi Arabia and in the Gulf to address pressing challenges to bridge online and offline businesses, according to a report.
The Sacha Orloff Group report titled ‘Beyond the Digital Divide: Evolving Digital Commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2014,’ stated that the kingdom has largely accepted the principle of the evolution of shopping malls, cashing-in with proven formulas, even if mother-brands operate online and offline.
It has adopted by default e-commerce solutions and payments to acquire a large part of the consumer goods and products market, encompassing the full value chain from banking system, retail, airline, hospitality, tourism, transport couriers and telecommunication sectors.
Most of these companies are changing their product mix to support margins, focusing on increasing sales, and consolidate customer loyalty to grow sales and introducing co-branded credit cards, said the report.
The Millennial Generation represents one of the most important factors in the adoption of e- and m-commerce in the region, with the Internet penetration in the kingdom having reached 59.25 per cent of the population and grown 11 per cent since last year, it said.
The report suggests that this is the time for Saudi Arabian merchants and business groups to be fully immersed in digital activities. As most of the firms are still not embracing e- or m-commerce, they should tap into the market of mobile owners to drive traffic, increase loyalty and grow sales, it said.
Leadership, creativity, expertise, development and execution are key factors to growing success and excellence, it said. Therefore, to link technology, innovation and strategy to the Saudi digital sector, firms should acquire and retain human talents.
In all the GCC, customer service is weak and investing in training human capital is essential to obtain a level of satisfaction to retain customers. The danger to accept mediocrity is that firms compete with others on the same average level, said the report.
The actual organisational motto is to move away from channel focus to customer focus, it said.
The business implies data analytics, supply chain optimisation, integrated technology and strong customer service. Businesses have to take calculated risks, embrace disruptive changes and empower their talent forces to gain both offline and online customers, it added.
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