Retail appeal

Power retail has emerged as one of the IT industry’s strongest channels in the Middle East. Piers Ford writes on why the retail channel is receiving so much appeal

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Retail appeal Neelesh Bhatnagar, Founder and CEO, Emax Electronics.
By  Piers Ford Published  May 27, 2013

Power retail has emerged as one of the IT industry’s strongest channels in the Middle East. Piers Ford writes on why the retail channel is receiving so much appeal.

While it remains a complex and fast-moving market in which margins are always under pressure, the power retail channel also increasingly sets the pace for consumer technology adoption. And in a BYOD world, consumers – with their high expectations and hunger for innovative apps and services - have more influence than ever on the way their enterprise employers use new technology to support the business.

However, power retail is also an intensely competitive sector, and retailers themselves face a number of challenges, not least their own ability to innovate and create product packages that meet the needs of a discerning and sophisticated consumer market.

“Despite difficult economic conditions in the past years, the retail industry across the region has continued to grow,” said Neelesh Bhatnagar, founder and CEO of power retailer Emax Electronics.

“UAE as a country has very high purchasing power, which is crucial in keeping the retail sector as one of the world’s busiest and most vibrant. The economy continues to grow and remain strong, and with this we are certain that the region’s retail sector will flourish in the years to come.”

At Jacky’s Electronics, chief operating officer Ashish Panjabi said the combination of a younger and rapidly growing population and consumers who instinctively understand technology is helping the power retail sector to thrive. The dynamics, he suggested, are completely different to the West.

“We are now entering a new phase of power retail within the region,” said Panjabi. “The first step was to see power retail, or organised retail, emerge as a category. This has happened and there are now multiple players per country.”

The new phase is seeing retailers balance growth and the number of stores opening with sustainable business plans, flexible margin structures and – most important of all – profitability.

“The investment power retailers have put into the retail experience has been huge but the bottom line has been that it has become difficult to think of life before they existed,” said Panjabi. “The souk dealers still exist but once you have shopped with a power retailer or an organised retailer, shopping elsewhere becomes difficult.

“The investment that a typical power retailer makes includes areas such as customer care cells, IT systems, logistics and delivery mechanisms, store fit-outs, marketing communications, product merchandising, staff training, payment schemes and much more.”

Adel A. Qahwash, general manager at AlJammaz Distribution, said this attention to developing new business practices, low pricing and bundling products has helped the market to become more homogenous and concentrated – a fact which causes concern for smaller players.

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