Digitalisation and Transformation

Transforming our business to be agile and future-proof

We are transforming our business to be a hybrid luxury retailer, where we increase our focus on delivering an enhanced customer experience, whether our customers choose to engage with us through our stores or online channels.

Key Stories

Our ‘SHIFT’ing journey to future-proof our business

Towards the end of 2017, we launched our transformation strategy ‘SHIFT’ with an aim to future-proof our business. From its launch up until June 2020, we have planned a 900-day transformation movement with the overarching vision to transform from a traditional distributor and retailer of luxury in the Middle East to a hybrid retailer bringing luxury experiences to the fingertips of customers everywhere. Our ‘SHIFT’ team works alongside our existing corporate segments and business units to help include and guide all our units in this shared transformation journey: connecting our customers seamlessly and offering an exciting experience for all.

In 2018, we started laying down the foundation for change as a Group through various customer relationship, data management, and customer experience initiatives. We have launched integrated personalised marketing campaigns targeted at our regional customers and have invested in our growing Chinese customer base. We also began setting the ground for our unique loyalty program, MUSE. 2018 was also the year when we launched The Greenhouse, our Group's retail technology accelerator and Ibtikar, the in-house incubator for Chalhoub employees.

With the shift of consumer habits already well underway, we launched various e-commerce sites for our brands. We also created a community around them to accelerate operational excellence and help us grow our online market and capabilities while fostering a space for learning and sharing.

This was also the year where we empowered our Captains, built speed, disrupted our marketing teams to think within a digital context and measure impact, while preparing our organisation to brace itself for a tougher and more competitive landscape.

In 2019, our main aim was to continue and accelerate the development of all the areas we started working on defined under 3 P’s: People, Processes and Platform.

We created synergies between all 3 P’s and highlighted 6 key priorities:

  • Omnichannel customer journey, offering an integrated experience for our customers
  • Loyalty and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Efficiency
  • Culture and purpose
  • Frontliners at heart
  • Online sales

We have made progress in 2019 by strengthening our online presence through launching our loyalty experience program (MUSE), allowing us to better connect and reward our loyal customers, and by driving online sales.

One of the key challenges we faced was to facilitate the transition for our employees and help them adapt to changes that might affect their day to day work. To address this, the main priorities for 2019 included re-visiting our Group’s culture and purpose, by creating more inclusiveness and empowering our frontline retail staff.

We conducted a 3- month long Group Culture Gap Assessment which allowed us to identify our employees’ positive outlook and any potential areas of concern within our organisational culture. Our culture was assessed by our leadership, managers and employees, using our 7 Guiding Principles and 3 core values. The gap analysis included a mix of quantitative and qualitative feedback from every country and level in the Group. Some key findings were drawn, requiring us to amend our people and business processes and systems accordingly. As a result of this study, six culture streams were set up to address each finding with an aim to develop a program and integrate it across our organisation within a 16-month period.

In 2020, we will focus our efforts towards strengthening the backbone of our hybrid capabilities framework. This should include focusing on our customer journey design, enhancing our retail store experience, effective product and order management, and delivering a hybrid customer service for better order fulfilment. We will test this by launching pilots within some of our brands, starting with Level Shoes within our own concepts. We will then accelerate the deployment of hybrid technologies and customer journey capabilities across our different business units and across the different countries in which we operate.

In 2020, we are also investing heavily in data by creating a data office (people and technology). This additional capability will allow us to take better informed decisions and improve our efficiency across the operations.

To know more about our ‘SHIFT’ movement, click here.

Exploring Digital Business Models to stay ahead of the game

Driven by our entrepreneurial spirit and by digital disruption in the industry we have been exploring other non-traditional digital business models since 2018, to provide enhanced luxury retail experience for our new generation customers.

We partnered with Farfetch, a London-based online fashion platform, to expand its market to the Middle East. Intending to enhance our brick-and-mortar retail experience, we have launched a technology joint venture, b8ta, which allows our customers to have a live trial of products before making a purchase. The data derived from these trials is fed back to us, and as a result, we can successfully enhance our products’ design and features based on our customers’ reaction to the trial. We would like to stay ahead of the industry and to do so, we are required to constantly consider and predict the potential transformation of our customer base and of their preferences. Connecting with our Millennial and GenZ customers is therefore important to us, and to strengthen this connection, we have established ‘The Modern East’ platform in partnership with Reward Media. This platform aims to create local content that appeals to our younger customers’ interests.

By constantly exploring new ways of reaching our (potential) customers and offering our customers a hybrid retail experience, we aim to create a sustainable business model for years to come.

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