The future of luxury retail: game-changing trends
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

The future of luxury retail: game-changing trends

The UAE is an economically strong market and has managed to bounce back somewhat from what has been a huge reduction in travel to the region. In this piece exclusive to SME10x, Kate Hardcastle draws on her experience as TV’s "customer whisperer" to share her thoughts on what the future looks like for luxury retail.

It’s no secret that the retail market took a big hit when COVID-19 changed our world almost 18 months ago. With store closures around the world, many retailers have had to change and adapt to the new ‘normal’. Much of the UAE luxury good sales came from a large tourism industry which put the Middle East on the map as a ‘shopping hub’. Tourists accounted for almost as much as 60 percent of the luxury goods buying market pre-covid.

So, what does the future of retail look like?

Make it an experience

E-commerce sales have skyrocketed in recent years, with everything at the click of a button there really isn’t much need to leave your house anymore. If people are going to make the effort and actually go to a store, then they need to know it is worth it with many often wanting to make an afternoon or morning of it.

Retailers are now looking at ways to make shopping more of an experience for customer with integrated lifestyle experiences such as the recently launched THAT concept destination at Mall of Emirates which aims to take shoppers on a complete lifestyle destination journey and is a sign of what the future holds with a lot more in development for a new era of experience retail.

Tap into the digital savvy market

These days the new luxury buyer is female, younger than before and extremely tech savvy. With people marrying younger and the salary pay gap narrowing, women have more cash to spend on the things they want.

It is more important than ever to tap into this tech-savvy audience. This doesn’t mean they are necessarily buying online but more that they are looking at forums, blog posts, PR communication and information on brands online before making any purchasing decisions. There needs to be a fundamental shift to a digital way of thinking when it comes to all communication.

In the UAE luxury sales and retail footfall took a big dive, understandably, but things have seen a significant pick up this year. Brands are taking the multi-pronged approach to achieve a re-boost for the industry, including the lifestyle destination strategy. Along with changes in stores a lot of UAE brands or international concepts in the region have started to look at their digital channels to reduce the buyer-seller gaps.

The digital landscape also allows for smaller SME brands to tap into the increasingly wealthy population in the UAE without the need to spend on bricks and mortar.

Food, glorious food

Any department store worth its salts knows the value of food and just how much a great culinary experience can add to the bottom line. Extended dwell time in store can lead to greater spend - but we are now entering an era way beyond a traditional cup of tea and slice of cake, it’s time to make it a fully integrated experience.

Look out for the planet

Consumers care more than ever about what impact their purchases make on the planet. They want to understand a brands attitude towards their workers, wages, where products are made along with what that brand has planned to continue to be more sustainable in the future.

Sustainability is here to stay, and brands need to realise that much of their main focus should be on how they plan to make their products, packaging, shipping and work environments more ‘green’.

About the author:

Kate Hardcastle MBE is TV’s "customer whisperer", a straight-talking UK consumer expert and multiple business award winner who strongly believes in the power the customer can wield to force change. Kate is driven by her experiences working at the sharp end of retail, which included designing and creating market-leading products, devising marketing campaigns and buying and selling internationally - as well as working in Chinese factories and witnessing workers’ conditions for herself.