Leading figures from retail, banking and e-commerce gather for the ‘Digitization in Retail’ conference hosted by Doha Bank to discuss how virtual payment systems are changing the retail environment
The fundamental challenges facing retailers against the backdrop of rapid digitization of the retail landscape and the growing shift towards mobile-based financial solutions that aggregate multiple payment methods were among the key issues that came under the spotlight at the ‘Digitization in Retail’ conference hosted by Doha Bank yesterday at The St. Regis Doha.
H.E. Sheikh Abdul Rehman Bin Mohammad Bin Jabor Al-Thani, Managing Director of Doha Bank attended the conference which was held under the theme ‘Digitizing the Retail Experiences and New Payment Solutions for Consumers’. The conference gathered leading regional and international experts from across the banking, retail and e-commerce sectors to explore how conventional retailers can compete in a digitized marketplace by developing multi-channel capabilities to keep pace with changing consumer behavior.
“Digital technology is fundamentally changing the world of retail,” said Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank, in his welcome address. “Technology is no longer seen as an operational support function but instead as a key driver of competitive advantage. The challenge for retailers is how to adapt to this changing environment and align their offering to evolving technology trends and consumer preferences. Consumers are today able to make purchases in a number of different ways, which makes it imperative that retailers integrate their physical store presence with robust online capabilities, at the same time adapting to new payment methods and systems.”
The evening’s keynote sessions was kicked off by Mr. Alpesh B Patel, Deal Maker, Global Entrepreneur programme who spoke on “Technology and investment.” He mentioned how much dependent we are on digital technology and the options available today to access various newspapers even during travel, which keeps him well informed. He believed companies such as Ali Baba are going to create more wealth for investors as they are more into retail. He stated that Qatar has capital to invest in technology and innovation. Qatar can continue to acquire investment and intellectual property. He believed Winners are those who invest in innovative capital.
An insightful presentation on the topic “Cloud and Mortar – How to Cope with the Informed Consumer” was made by Joseph Noujaim, CEO of Bloomerangs. Emphasizing the pitfalls inherent in retailers trying to catch up with the connected consumer, Noujaim said, “The focus for retail stores must be on developing interesting solutions for the business, rather than for the consumer. In order to make their stores more responsive to consumer interest and expectations, retailers must look to take advantage of the latest technologies to enhance their in-store experience. They need to tap into the possibilities offered by innovative concepts such as proximity marketing and create smart services that will assist them in identifying consumers, serving these consumers faster and meeting their unique needs. Essentially, this calls for a mindset shift from consumer-based marketing to store-based marketing.”
With Unified Commerce fast becoming the new buzzword, Thomas Huigens, CMO of iKajo.com, offered a fascinating glimpse into how innovative payment solutions can help provide a seamless shopping experience for the consumer. “We are in an age where the consumer, and not the retailer, dictates the payment form and method – making it essential that the payment platform supports a cross-channel approach. Today’s consumer needs to be able to pay the way he or she chooses, regardless of location and device, and this is spurring a shift towards mobile-based platforms that are uniquely capable of aggregating payment methods. Technologies such as digital wallets are radically altering the retail payment landscape; studies predict that e-wallets will equal cards as the most popular payment method globally with a total transaction value of USD 1,656 billion by 2017 – a clear indication of the pivotal role that e-wallets will play in the future in ensuring a unified purchase and payment experience for the consumer.”
Citing the example of US-based supermarket chain Whole Foods which built a common platform that unifies commerce across multiple channels to hugely positive results, Huigens demonstrated how retailers can capitalize on the Unified Commerce platform to drive business and brand loyalty by providing a personalized experience for each individual shopper across all channels.
Highlighting how banks play a crucial role in furthering the e-commerce and m-commerce revolutions which have taken the retail world by storm, by providing a platform for innovative payment modes, Suresh Bajpai, Head of Retail at Doha Bank, said, “In the 21st century, due to the over-influx of technology, customers’ lives are one with their smartphones; they connect online via multiple devices and social media networks and lead a digitized lifestyle. To keep pace with consumers, retailers have evolved from doing business the conventional way through ‘bricks & mortar’ stores, to offering customers seamless online and mobile shopping, purchasing and payment experiences. Banks are the link which provides the platform that offers both customers and retailers novel payment modes, mechanisms and solutions. The event attempts to showcase how Doha Bank is capitalizing on some of these new payment technologies to provide the best experience to the consumer while facilitating the retailer.”
Following the conclusion of the keynote sessions, commemorative awards were given out to the merchant partners of Doha Bank in recognition of their outstanding commitment to creating value for the bank’s customers through innovative promotions and programs.
The largest private commercial bank in the State of Qatar, Doha Bank is one of the leading financial services companies in the Gulf region. The bank provides individuals and commercial, corporate and institutional clients across Qatar and the region, new and better ways to manage their financial lives.