The Disruption and Reinvention of the Grocery Industry

Mukatafa’s takeaways from the RLC’s “The Great Retail Reset” virtual event  

2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges, changes, and growth — and the retail sector at large was no exception. Retail cultures have forever been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, reinventing the way we shop. And more specifically, within the retail sector, we saw a drastic shift in the grocery industry as the world replaced going out with cooking in — and grocery stores became destinations for far more than just food.  

With key strategies of female employment, e-commerce, and overall alignment with KSA’s vision for 2030, the industry has been able to match these changes in stride and prepare for a more sustainable future in KSA.  

Through the RLC’s “The Great Retail Reset” event, these ideas were expanded on even more through the insights of our very own founder and CEO, Prince Waleed Bin Nasser, and Mr. Ahmad BinDawood, CEO of BinDawood Holding. Their conversation was facilitated by Monsieur Cyrille Fabre, Senior Partner with Bain & Company’s Middle Eastern Offices. 

Below is our best summary of this session with key points of E-commerce, Saudization, and Female Employment, which lead to the overall alignment with KSA’s Vision for 2030.  


In recognizing how COVID-19 impacted consumer behavior this past year, all of the speakers at this event expanded on how brands had to embrace a rapid expansion of e-commerce to stay afloat while complementing the natural consumer journey.  

Bindawood expanded by saying, “With these changes, the necessity for using best practices to make goods available and improve the service level is integral to the success of a company.” 

The expansion of e-commerce through this pandemic highlighted the importance of convenience and product information as necessary retail components. Consumers became more and more cautious about using their time throughout the pandemic, requiring brands to be as transparent and as accessible as possible.    

E-commerce was the most vital component of the grocery industry’s success this past year. But according to Prince Waleed, Saudization and female employment will prove to be even more important in the years to come.  


Saudization and female employment  

Employing Saudi nationals through the grocery sector is a key component of the reinvention of the industry. Especially in terms of management, Prince Waleed outlined a program that will provide native for 50% of all grocery management to be upheld by Saudis — with a key focus of including women in this change.  

So there is a lot in terms of operating cost and regulations that will change — but it will be an interesting year to watch in the grocery industry,” said Prince Waleed.  

Within the same inactive, a job training program will educate 10,000 females to upskill their own professional capabilities and connect them to real opportunities. This program is 100% supported and free to all attendees.  

Bindawood said, “Previously, 50% of the population (meaning women) weren’t contributing to the economy.” And now, in empowering women, we are tapping into the wide potential of half of the population.  

Expanding on the potential of women is a top priority of Vision 2030 and will continue to play a major role in the success of Saudi.  


Alignment with KSA’s Vision 2030  

KSA is well on its way to achieving Vision 2030 across all sectors — but especially through grocery. The transformation and reinvention of the industry were astounding — especially to have only taken place throughout one year. The way this industry adapted e-commerce models to business, employed Saudi nationals and women, and kept their progress in tandem with Vision 2030, will always prove to be successful.  

“2020 was supposed to be the year for grocery. But now, 2021 is where we’ll see a lot of change happening in a different aspect. New standards for grocery are setting the trajectory for the future.

In being part of a session like this, we can see that even in all the COVID-19 pandemic took, and it left so much in its wake of how we as humans will prove our resilience and continue to reinvent the wheel. Because perhaps COVID-19 was a mere expediter of the progress of this industry and its new trajectory for where it will go.  

Who knew we would all be online grocery shopping in 2020? Who knows where we’ll go next. But we look forward to guiding you along the way.  

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