Dubai: Jashanmal Group, the UAE’s retail behemoth, is expecting a five-fold rise in is digital platforms cumulatively, in line with the rising trend in e-commerce, Chief Executive Khaled Soliman said.
“The future of retail is going to include a lot more digital. Omnichannel is going to play a major part,” Soliman told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.
The 102-year old conglomerate, which started off from a single store in Basra, Iraq, in 1919, has seamlessly adapted to the changing retail landscape. “The group is looking at a growth trajectory by expanding geographically and also by adding new brands and products to our existing portfolio,” Soliman said.
Today, the Jashanmal Group operates multiple stores showcasing the leading brands and an extensive distribution and wholesale network to over 1,000 retailers across the GCC and India. New markets are constantly being added, the latest being Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt.
Jashanmal Group started its omnichannel/e-commerce journey last year, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was breaking. The timing worked well for Jashanmal, as within a year, e-commerce has contributed more than 4 per cent of the group’s total turnover.
As online shopping started picking up due to the movement restrictions to curb the spread of the pandemic, Jashanmal Group started a number of initiatives. “In order to continue serving our customers, we immediately started WhatsApp selling, when the stores were closed. We also launched kerbside pick up for our customers who did not want to come into the malls,” Soliman said. The company’s product portfolio was also restructured to cater to the change in consumer habits, he added.
The group remains focused on working with new sales channels such on online marketplaces, omni channel and direct to customer options, which were not available in the past.
Digital offerings are at the forefront of the company’s initiatives. This has spread to its physical stores as well, in order to appeal to the younger generation of shoppers. “With our new age digitally transformed department stores, we are also looking to attract the millennials and GenZ by bringing in products which they prefer and also aligning with the social causes which are close to their heart. Our new generation store concept of Jashanmal is also very digital, where we have made a judicious use of technology to be able to offer our customers convenience at their finger tips. Mall of Emirates is one example,” Soliman said.
Despite all the focus on digital offerings, Soliman believes that brick and mortar stories will not go away. “I strongly feel the brick and mortar store’s experience will continue to evolve with the use of technology such as VR [virtual reality], magic mirrors, touch screens etc being implemented in order for the customer to experience the concept of endless aisles. We, as retailers, will have to make the stores fun and interactive to invite the customer to shop with us,” he said.
As a retailer, the group will continue to maintain a presence in a physical and virtual presence. “We at Jashanmal refer to our new style as a hybrid business model, where all the different channels of sales coexist and have their own role to play,” Soliman said.
To ensure that the ‘shoppertainment’ concept remains relevant to the company, the retail major’s new concept stores are based on a experiential model. “We encourage the customer to come and engage with the product and the team is looking to enhance the shopping experience and make it more enjoyable. We have dedicated zones in the store which are activity based and have events and activities for the customer to enjoy,” Soliman said.