Kuwait’s 360 MALL Launches AI Chatbot

KuwaitKuwait-based Tamdeen Group’s 360 MALL has launched an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, bilingual chatbot called ‘Nouf’, which makes it easier for customers to engage with the shopping mall.

360 MALL customers now have instant access to ‘Nouf’ who can talk to them in both Arabic and English, via a range of the region’s most popular social media and digital platforms without having to download apps. Once Nouf’s number is stored, customers can immediately talk to her, at any time of the day or night, on WhatsApp or via Facebook and Webchat.

“We’re using transformative and game-changing AI technology to make our customer experience and journey as simple and easy as possible, which is a winning combination for our visitors and our tenants alike,” said Aram Mkrtchyan, deputy general manager – marketing for 360 MALL. “Nouf is currently in its beta version and will continue to evolve and develop to better serve our customers.”

Chatting to ‘Nouf’ is almost like talking to a friendly, human personal assistant, through the use of AI. “This means ‘Nouf’ can listen carefully to customers, understand their precise needs and provide far greater insight on the brands and services available than is provided on standard, script-fed chatbots, which are usually just a re-run of website text,” added Mkrtchyan. “What’s more, ‘Nouf’ has a bright and witty personality, which makes her fun to talk to.”

For instance, on learning of a customer’s food preferences, ‘Nouf’ can make dining recommendations, or she can suggest brands for certain items and give directions to any store, restaurant or facility from the precise place in the mall the visitor is communicating from. ‘Nouf’ can also direct customers to specific outlet types, provide their contact numbers and website addresses and guide shoppers through 360 MALL’s many event and entertainment options.

360 MALL’s investment in ‘Nouf’ is part of its ongoing aim of setting a new standard for the shopping experience and the entire customer journey.

Though ‘Nouf’ is a beta-chatbot under test mode with 360 MALL, there are already plans to further extend her range. “We are embracing the convenience of the conversational commerce era ensuring customers will no longer have to send enquiries via e-mails or call our customer service to obtain information from the mall. We are committed to providing customers with a more interactive experience as a first stop on the way to full digitisation and gamification of shopping,” Mkrtchyan explained.

CCC Store

UAE’s first CCC Store Opens in Abu Dhabi

CCC StorePolish footwear brand CCC, part of retail conglomerate Apparel Group, opened its first store in the UAE at The Mall World Trade Center in Abu Dhabi.

Spanning 8,583 sqft and situated on the ground floor of the mall, the store boasts a collection of 30 brands under one roof including adidas, Skechers, Vans, Reebok, Asics, Jenny Fairy, Lanetti, Lasocki, Bassano, Action Boy, K-Swiss, Berastogi and Anta to name a few. Several CCC-owned brands are introduced to the UAE market for the first time.

The official inauguration of the store took place on June 19, 2019, in the presence of Robert Rostek, ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the UAE; Talal Al Dhiyebi, CEO at Aldar; along with Nilesh Ved, chairman of Apparel Group.

With the core values of CCC being ‘fast fashion’ and ‘value for money’, the large-format store’s concept is eye-catching, sporting a premium look and feel with value for money products. Among the highlight, features are the large, vibrant LED screens, elevated open ceilings and explicit mention of prices for each category and brand.

The store is also digitally-enabled with the deployment of mobile point of sale, wherein the customer has the ease of purchasing from any part of the store, without the need to queue up at the cash till. Also, offering an omnichannel shopping experience, the click-and-collect facility is available as CCC has an online presence on Apparel Group’s online arm, 6th Street.

Having been open for two weeks in The Mall World Trade Center, CCC has attracted an audience from all nationalities, the average transaction being AED150.

The first CCC store in the GCC was launched at Gulf Mall in Doha, Qatar a month and a half ago. Going forward, CCC plans to open large-format stores, with the average size being 10,000 sqft. Some of the flagship stores could also go up to 20,000 sqft.

The plan is to open eight stores within this year, including Dalma Mall, City Centre Bahrain, Muscat Grand Mall, Mall of Dhahran and City Centre Deira, to name a few. By 2020, the plan is to open 20-25 stores. CCC currently has over 1,500 stores across Europe.


Centrepoint’s ‘Stores of the Future’ will be Seamless, more Customer-Friendly

CentrepointLandmark Group’s multi-brand destination, Centrepoint – comprising Babyshop, Lifestyle, Splash and Shoe Mart – has started unveiling its ‘stores of the future’. It has rolled out two new stores in Oman, one each in Abu Dhabi, Ajman and Sharjah, at the newly opened Oasis Mall, and one in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. A brand-new Centrepoint store will open in City Centre Deira. The Mall of the Emirates store is getting renovated. The one in Ibn Battuta Mall, to be unveiled in August, will be a significant step of change. The existing store network is also getting modernised.

Commenting on Centrepoint’s ‘store of the future’ concept, COO Simon Smith, said, “We always think about how to get the consumer to shop across Centrepoint and not specifically in a single brand. For this, we had to plan the transition areas to be more impactful in terms of merchandise presentation. We have had to plan a walkway that is open and clear with the use of more digital elements. After all, the retail environment is moving forward rapidly. The use of digital and omnichannel approach to retailing has opened multiple channels for consumers.”

Centrepoint’s store of the future will, thus, feature several innovation pieces. “We are putting in place backroom innovation for our footwear brand, Shoe Mart. When a customer orders from the shop floor, a member of staff will see it at the back-end and bring the product to the customer. In effect, we are ensuring that our shop floor executives can continue the conversation with the customer without any interruption. We are building our business by leveraging technology to drive convenience and enhance customer service,” Smith shared.

Centrepoint will also use RFID in its high street fashion brand Splash. “When a customer is walking in a store, whether it is in the front or back of the house, they will know where they can locate the product, ensuring complete transparency. Later on, we will introduce the RFID technology in our children’s brand, Babyshop,” Smith added.

Currently, Centrepoint is building an app for the store staff to bring in the endless aisle solution, allowing customers to access a wider selection. The app will be launched later this year. “Everything we are doing is to simplify and drive convenience for the customers, even while they are in the store,” Smith reinforced. “Centrepoint. com is a crucial element to what we are doing. We are endeavouring to bridge the online service element, by bringing it in the store. Think about it; we already have 30% click-and-collect business, which comes from online and brings customers inside the store.”

“Queuing time is one of the biggest pain points in Centrepoint,” he elaborated. “We are looking at ways to drive efficiency through our checkouts, our new layout and software. We are introducing a lot of mobile points of sale so that customers can check out without having to queue at the main cash tills. We will also service the fitting rooms differently.”

Centrepoint touches 170 million customers every year and is eager to grow across channels – online and offline. “We see significant growth online. We will double our online business next year. But we are not accepting de-growth at the store level either,” Smith stated. “That’s happening because we can pinpoint and meet the exact needs of customers by leveraging data. Our marketing teams are always looking at the Shukran – loyalty programme – database to generate repeat footfall by offering the right rewards. Besides, we are also communicating to the broader customer base through the digital channel, informing them about the goings-on in the stores.”

At the moment, Centrepoint is opening stores that are a transition between the old and new formats. “We have opened a new store at Oasis Mall in Sharjah, which is the first Centrepoint in that emirate. Our customers have not failed to notice a significant change in the store environment. New fixtures and directional signage render the ambience clearer. The use of visual props is a significant step forward. The lighting is different, eco-conscious and smart. The planning of transition zones between the brands is in a manner that is distinctive yet cohesive. A lot of work is going into making the customer journey cohesive and convenient. And it is an on-going, evolving process.”

In a space like Centrepoint, which is usually a large store layout built in a manner to increase customer dwell time, an F&B area – a café or a grab-n-go counter – may not be a bad idea in its store of the future blueprint.

“It is happening,” Smith confirmed. “We are currently working on a plan to include a small Lavazza coffee area within Centrepoint in Ibn Battuta Mall. Our objective is to ensure that this small Lavazza coffee service area becomes the best value for money proposition for our customers in the entire shopping mall.”


Ministry to open Year-Round Vegetable markets soon

vegetableResidents of Qatar will be able to shop for fresh vegetables all the year round as the Ministry of Municipality and Environment will open two air-conditioned farmers’ markets, reported the Peninsula Qatar. The markets will be located at the Al Mazrouh and Al Wakra and set open during forthcoming agricultural season. With special emphasis on local produce the vegetable section of the market will be offering a wide range of fruit and vegetables throughout the year.

“The new facilities, the permanent farmers’ markets will be an addition to the existing five farmers’ markets which offer fresh vegetables from local farmers to the customers directly without middlemen and brokers at reasonable prices,” said Yusuf Khalid Al Khulaifi, Director of Agriculture Affairs Department talking to The Peninsula.

Qatar’s appetite for producing farm products has been on the rise in recent years and the country is focusing exclusively on the local production to secure food safety. The news markets will help to go a long way to meet the rising demand of marketing platforms with growing local agricultural produce. They will enable local farmers to sell their produce from greenhouses, even during off season when seasonal vegetable markets are closed.

Ministry of Municipality and Environment has launched a number of initiatives including premium products, Qatari farms and winter vegetable markets to provide platforms to market local products.

Saudi Arabia

Golden Scent launches new AR feature for beauty lovers

Saudi ArabiaGolden Scent, the leading Saudi Arabian e-commerce beauty platform, is the first in the Middle East to launch a one of a kind “Augmented Reality” feature on its Android and iPhone app.

Branded as Virtual Try-On, the feature enables shoppers to try on makeup without the physical need to visit a retail store.

Golden Scent’s continuous efforts to enrich the customers’ shopping experience by making their journey easier and smarter, underlines the strength of the company’s objective by being the regional reference for customer satisfaction.

While similar innovations are being adopted across many industries, Golden Scent is taking the lead in the integration between technology and cosmetics while growing its wide catalogue of beauty products.

Users of the app can now rely on the smart feature to test makeup products from the comfort of their own homes before purchasing them from Golden Scent’s online store.

The initiative was inspired by Golden Scent’s strong belief in the importance of trying products before purchasing them. Since the beauty platform hosts a wide variety of products from a large assortment of brands, the feature offers the opportunity to experiment with hundreds of colours and products within seconds, unlike the extended shopping journey most customers face in retail stores.

In addition, it has been proven that sales have been increased on platforms that provide engaging interactions. While users spend more time on an app that utilises the “Augmented Reality” feature.

abu dhabi

Shopping fiesta and ‘Mall Millionaire’ Promotion

abu dhabiLine Investments & Property LLC this week launches the ‘Mall Millionaire’ activation, a mega shopping fiesta with incredible deals across eight malls in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain from June 18th to 3rd August 2019 as part of the summer offers in collaboration with Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) for Retail Abu Dhabi (RAD).

Highlight of the ‘Mall Millionaire’ competition will offer shoppers AED 1.5 million worth of prizes with weekly draws of AED 50,000/- and a mega prize of 1 million at the end of the summer sales with other instant prizes.

Mr. Wajeb Al Khoury, Director of Line Investments and Property LLC said, “Our retailers are looking forward to participating in the popular summer RAD promotions that provide incredible offers, rewards and discounts for UAE residents and visitors alike. Summer Is when most people spend indoors and our malls ensure there are enough events, shows and activities to indulge in for visitors of all age groups.”

The malls under the Line Investments & Property portfolio will further enhance the 47-day long summer sales with exceptional shopping experiences combining action packed entertainment shows, back to school offers, mall events and attractive prizes.
The participating malls in the 47-day festival include the Al Wahda Mall, Mushrif Mall, Khalidiya Mall, Al Raha Mall, Mazyad Mall and Souk Madinat Al Zayed in Abu Dhabi plus the Barari Outlet Mall and Al Foah Mall in Al Ain.

To become a ‘Mall Millionaire’, shoppers who spend AED200/- in the mall can present their receipts to the customer service and their entries will be sent to them digitally via email and SMS.

Kuwaiti retailer Al Nasser announces Disney, Marvel co-branded apparel collections

Kuwait-based sports and high street fashion retailer, Al Nasser has announced the launch of two official co-branded Marvel and Disney apparel collections for both adults and children. The collections will be available at all showrooms including Al Rai, Nasser Mall, Jahra Adsani, Green Tower, Egaila, Khaitan and Qurain 2.

In collaboration with The Walt Disney Company Middle East, Al Nasser has created exclusive collections for men and women comprising jerseys, outwear and nightwear; all featuring unique and original designs. The collections feature favourite characters from the world of Disney including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Princess Anna and Elsa from Frozen and superheroes from the Marvel universe, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America and The Hulk.

“Al Nasser has proudly brought the latest global fashion trends at an affordable price to Kuwaiti customers for 35 years now, and it is with great delight that we announce this new tie-up with Marvel and Disney,” says Nasser Al Rasheed, CEO of Al Nasser. “We believe this exclusive collection featuring some of the world’s most beloved characters, and bringing a world of imagination and fun within a fashionable frame to families, will be a venture of success and we look forward to announcing future collections.”

Al Nasser will continue the collaboration with The Walt Disney Company Middle East with the launch of a co-branded swimwear collection, a school uniform and school hair accessories later this year.

Currently, Al Nasser operates 52 stores in Kuwait and carries some of the world’s most popular brands, runs an own private label and collaborates with global brands including Disney.

Seef Mall

Seef Mall kicks off the season with its “Summer Splash” event

Seef MallKicking off the hottest season of the year with a splash, Seef Mall, the leading family shopping and entertainment destination in the Kingdom of Bahrain, is hosting a “Summer Splash” event in the west wing of Seef Mall-Seef District, which began at the start of Eid AlFitr and will continue into the peak of summer until July 6.

Bringing in a burst of colour and summer fun to Seef Mall – Seef district, the West Wing of the mall has been transformed into a summer oasis, vibrantly decorated with palm trees, suspended colourful umbrellas, complete with three-dimensional models of dolphins jumping out of water; creating a post-card worthy experience of a summer holiday. This event comes in line with the continuous efforts of Seef Mall to revitalize and enhance the retail sector, as well as further develop the Mall as a leading shopping and entertainment destination in the Kingdom of Bahrain by hosting a series of events and campaigns throughout the year.

The “Summer Splash” event, which is open daily from 10 am till 10 pm, includes various fun activities, including plastic paddle boats, giant “lawn” billiards, volleyball, and mini golf to name a few. In order to participate and obtain an entry voucher, shoppers at Seef Mall-Seef District can submit any receipts for purchases in the minimum amount of BD10.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Ahmed Yusuf, Chief Executive Officer of Seef Properties, revealed, “We decided to launch this Summer Splash event to combat the rising temperatures of summer and create an energizing experience, we’ve included a variety of indoor water activities for children to cool-off and escape the heat, enabling them to create unforgettable memories. We invite everyone to shop at Seef Mall – Seef District to enable kids to explore the entertaining summer surprises we have in store for them.”

Since opening in 1997, Seef Mall has been one of the most popular shopping and entertainment destinations in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The mall continues to attract a large number of visitors due to the wide range of international brands it offers, including retail shops, restaurants and leisure facilities for the young and old, catering to a variety of lifestyles.


OPPO to Expand GCC presence with Lulu Hypermarket


Global smartphone brand, OPPO is extending its presence in the region with the announcement of new distributors for its smartphones, including UAE’s Lulu Hypermarket.

The new partnership with Lulu in the UAE marks the beginning of a relationship that will evolve to cover the GCC. In addition to retail presence, Lulu will work with OPPO by providing marketing support in several GCC countries.

“We are thrilled to enter into partnerships with prestigious brands such as Lulu Hypermarket. This new collaboration will help to take OPPO further across the region, by placing our smartphones in some of our consumers’ favourite retail locations. This growth signifies the success of our brand in the GCC and sets the stage for continued evolution of OPPO in this exciting and promising market,” said Andy Shi, president of OPPO Middle East and Africa.

Recent months have seen OPPO demonstrate its commitment to the Middle East region, through a series of local partnerships with leading communications providers, as well as with distribution partners. OPPO has established its regional headquarters in Dubai, which was the location selected for the first international launch of the new OPPO Reno series, following the smartphones’ introduction in China. The company is committed to being a key contributor to the region’s 5G ecosystem, and is helping to shape the next generation of connectivity through contributions in research, software and hardware development and deep consumer insight.

Ikea in Dubai to Offer Online Shopping through its mobile app

A trip to Ikea always sounds like an exciting prospect – after all, who doesn’t love flat pack furniture and Swedish meatballs?

But the novelty wears off fast when you’re stuck in a gridlocked path of one-way trolley traffic. And that’s before you even join the snaking queue to pay for your ensemble of items.

Well all that could be about to change, with talk of a new shopping tool available through the Ikea app. Currently you can view the Ikea catalogue, but you have to order from the website or travel to the store to make a purchase.

It’s yet to be announced when the app will be updated.

Bawadi Mall announces the opening of nine new retail outlets

The mall has introduced two fashion stores, four food and beverage outlets and three beauty and make-up retail stores.

Bawadi Mall has introduced nine new retail stores of top regional and international brands. The mall has introduced two fashion stores, four food and beverage outlets and three beauty and make-up retail stores.

The mall, a major shopping, dining, and leisure destination, is the new home of Benefit Cosmetics, Lumiere Skin Clinic, and City Cut Salon as well as fashion outlets LC Waikiki and R&B.

Additionally, Sumo Sushi & Bento, Ayla Café, Zadina Dates, and Molten Chocolate Café are the new additions to the superb restaurants operating in the mall that offer shoppers and visitors an ultimate and unique dining experience. The new establishments commenced their operations during the holy month of Ramadan. Coinciding with their inauguration was the re-opening of the newly renovated stores of The Face Shop and Toys R Us.

Bawadi Mall is the largest shopping mall in Al Ain. New brands made their debut in the Al Ain city through Bawadi Mall such as Zara, Mango, MAX, Marks & Spencer, Koton, New look, H&M, and ACE, amongst others. The mall has attracted more than 400 retail outlets to date, including international names.

Abu Dhabi Mall

Date set for opening of Abu Dhabi Mall expansion

Abu Dhabi MallAn extension to the Galleria, Al Maryah Island, which opened in Abu Dhabi six years ago, will open on September 4, adding more than 270 retail brands.

The expansion plan, which will also add over 70 new dining options, aims to transform The Galleria into a super-regional mall.New entertainment options will also be created, including a flagship Xtreme Zone together with urban rooftop parks.

The opening date was revealed as Jumbo Electronics announced plans to launch a flagship store as part of the expansion.Covering an area of 20,000 square feet, the new location will be Jumbo’s flagship Abu Dhabi store and the first to include the brand’s complete product portfolio in the city. It will also feature an array of innovative brand experience zones and Jumbo UnwiredCrew services for smart home solutions.

Daniel Parry, managing director, Gulf Related, said: “The Galleria’s expansion was created to ensure every customers’ needs are satisfied by delivering exceptional experiences every day. In our opinion, Jumbo Electronics is the brand that has consistently proven its dedication to a superior quality of service.”

Pankaj Kumar, head of OmniChannel Retail at Jumbo Group added: “The Galleria is bringing the future of retail and recreation to Abu Dhabi, and we are very excited to be a part of that. Our new flagship store will showcase our range of innovative Smart Home services and customised solutions and will also have a dedicated Gaming Zone which will showcase a wide range of devices for gamers.”

Jumbo will be part of The Galleria’s expansion which will introduce 270 high-street and international brands, including 70 casual dining options and over 250,000 square feet of entertainment.