Retail, the next big thing

The Retail AgencyWhat is The Retail Agency all about?

The Retail Agency is a Oman based boutique firm specialised in shopping centre and retail education. It was born to fulfil a need that exists in the job market for skilled retail professionals. The Retail Agency will provide the retail sector education programmes through expert retail courses engineered and powered by the Global Retail Academy. The Retail Agency and Global Retail Academy have developed a strategic partnership with the goal to provide Oman with a readily available pool of local skilled retail industry professionals prepared for employment prospects. The Retail Agency is the first of its kind in Oman and is fully backed by the Middle East Council of Shopping Centers (MECSC) headquartered in Dubai, and the International Council of Shopping Centers, with headquarters in New York.

How would you describe Oman’s retail industry?

We are in a transformative time, for retail, as an industry, is going through a massive change; it is expected to experience a significant growth in the next couple of years. There are several major new projects underway and shopping centre space is expected to increase by 63 percent by 2020.

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The Retail AgencyOman has a number of factors fuelling the sector. The demographics of the country being the foremost among them – Oman has a young population, with over 20 percent of the population between the ages of 20-30. Secondly, shopping centres have become an essential part of everyday family life and are embedded in the DNA of the social fabric of Oman. Lastly, the growing trend of double-income households and increase in disposable income in Oman plays a vital role.

The Retail sector in Oman is evolving and will play a major role in the Oman economy.

On the career front, what are the avenues open in the retail industry?

Retail is an industry that allows you to pick any passion and pursue it down an exciting career path, filled with endless opportunities for professional development and career advancement. No other industry offers more job opportunities for people with limited education than the retail industry does today as a lot of progression can be earned on the job and all you need are specific retail skills which can be gained through specialised training programmes.

The Retail AgencyThe retail industry offers a variety of career paths, such as security, store management, leasing, marketing, operations, traffic management, loss prevention, visual merchandising, tenant coordination, construction, pop-up-retail, negotiation, logistics and understanding how the retail industry ticks.

(The Retail sector also includes kiosks and online e-commerce businesses. As of 2017, online retail represents 12 percent of the retail industry in Oman.)

Why is Retail a smart career choice?

There are many benefits to be gained from a career in retail. Retail provides a variety of career paths to choose from and the chance to learn valuable skills. It’s a sector where you can start at the bottom and work your way up to the top. With Omanisation as high as 60+ percent in the retail sector, retail jobs offer almost immediate accountability for talented Omanis so they can reach key management positions in a few years as competition is very minimal. Compensation of top management ranks among the highest in any industry. Key management positions are within the reach of any Omani prepared to learn and take on challenges. There is no other industry with as many opportunities in which you can, with the right training, excel in so many fields.

The Retail AgencyWhat needs to be done to equip young Omanis to find a foothold in the retail job market?

With a 63 percent increase in prime retail space by 2020, which is projected to create more than 54,000 jobs, the opportunities for young Omani’s seeking their first job or a long-term career in retail are immense.

The following steps are a guideline for Omanis interested in becoming retail professionals and discover how vibrant and rewarding a career in retail can be:

  • Understand the size, potential and opportunities in the Oman retail industry
  • Counter the myths about retail careers – i.e. limited career growth prospects in retail and that all retail jobs are low paying
  • Understand that retail jobs go beyond sales associate and cashier jobs
  • Identify a retail career pathway and pursue it by gaining the right skills
  • Acquire new skills and build a foundation for a successful career through specialised retail training programmes
  • Find full-time employment opportunities with your new set of retail skills by targeting retail development companies, shopping malls, and retailers.

What are the retail trends to watch out for?

Technology will be one of the biggest drivers behind future trends in retail, particularly mobile technology. Shopping by mobile phone is still a new thing in Oman, but with technology advancements and with smart phone penetration rates on the rise, the trend to shop on the move using your mobile will increase. Retailers are already using social media to drive sales to their shops. The next step would be to drive sales through mobile commerce.

Virtual reality in retail is also a trend that will quickly develop in the next 5 to 10 years.

About Maimunah Shebani
The Retail Agency

 

* Maimunah Shebani is the board member of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centers (MECSC) and the founder of The Retail Agency in Oman. She was the regional MECSC representative of Oman from 2012-2016. For more information on the MECSC, please visit www.mecsc.org

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