As their brick-and-mortar counterparts did over the past decade, the online versions are building up their reach. Just recently, el Grocer, the grocery delivery app, tied up with Sharjah Co-operative Society to launch their service in that emirate., which started life as a marketplace operator, is putting all its energies into grocery pickup and delivery, with Saudi Arabia proving quite a fertile territory for it.

Which means, grocery stores in the real world need to change their game. They could make a start by cutting down on the number of products they are trying to push into shoppers’ line of sight.

In the UAE, nine basket categories have “grown from about 112,000 in 2016 to 116,000 in 2018,” according to Nielsen. “This is, however, not accompanied by an increase in store sizes. The task to identify the right products to place in the market and then fit them into the store and shelves is becoming more challenging by the day.”

Colle has one final word of advice — “Fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers should focus on fewer — but bigger — SKUs. This overcrowding of shelves is also leading to higher instances of out-of-stock. The cost of out-of-stock is tremendous for retailers. It is the worst that can happen because you are basically giving an option to the shopper to head for a competitor’s store.”

Gulf News. November 8, 2019