Shopping malls are big in the Middle East, not only in square footage but also in how many people they attract. From Dubai to Riyadh to Kuwait, millions of Middle Eastern shoppers regularly spend their time wandering, shopping, and socializing in some of the world’s most impressive retail spaces. In most cases, they have Alshaya Group to thank for the rich brand experience they find.
Alshaya is one of the world’s largest brand franchise operators, offering an unparalleled choice of well-loved international brands to customers. Shoppers outfit their wardrobes with American Eagle Outfitters, H&M, Debenhams, and Victoria’s Secret. Some refresh their skin and beauty routines with Bath & Body Works, The Body Shop, Boots, and M.A.C. Others design their living spaces with Muji and Pottery Barn. They also visit Starbucks, P.F. Chang’s, and The Cheesecake Factory—with all experiences curated through Alshaya’s vision.
These brands fill prime shopping locations across the Middle East and are hugely successful, even in a highly competitive market.
But people’s buying habits are shifting and Alshaya has been progressively moving online in response. A wave of digital disruption and a rise in social media have seen more shoppers choosing to shop online and on mobile. Retailers now have to think beyond the mall and strengthen their digital offerings.
“Social media came to the Middle East relatively late, but places like Jeddah and Riyadh now rank among the top 10 cities in the world for usage,” Alshaya’s CTO, Marc van der Heijden says. “This usage, combined with COVID-19, which forced almost all retail purchases online for a significant part of last year, has led to a massive and enduring shift in the way consumers spend their time and money.”
These factors created a perfect storm for change, accelerating Alshaya’s plans to create a true omnichannel model where customers can seamlessly shop in store and online.