Muscat – Noor Shopping – a neighbourhood convenience store brand created and owned by Enhance Group in Oman – won Oman’s Most Trusted Brand Award 2022 in supermarkets category.
In an exclusive interview with Muscat Daily, Nadil al Balushi, Business Head: Retail, at Noor Shopping, discussed in details the company’s strengths and customer- and community-focussed approach. He also talked about Noor Shopping’s geographical presence, expansion and location strategy in Oman.
Noor Shopping was voted by public as Oman’s Most Trusted Brand 2022 in supermarkets category. What are the major strengths of Noor Shopping which differentiated it from other players in the market?
Noor Shopping’s distinction as Oman’s Most Trusted Brand in the supermarkets category for 2022 can be attributed to its unwavering commitment to serving the community and upholding its core values. As a proud Omani brand, Noor Shopping understands the importance of catering to the needs of the local community and making a positive impact.
One of the major strengths that sets Noor Shopping apart from other players in the market is its deep-rooted connection to the community it serves. Noor Shopping genuinely cares about the well-being of its customers and strives to provide them with exceptional products and services. By consistently putting the community’s needs first, Noor Shopping has earned the trust and loyalty of its customers, leading to its recognition as the most trusted brand.
Additionally, Noor Shopping’s decision-making process is driven by the goal of serving the community. Every strategic decision, be it in terms of product selection, pricing, or customer service, is carefully evaluated with the community’s best interests in mind. Noor Shopping recognises that its success is closely tied to the satisfaction and well-being of its customers, and as a result, it continually strives to exceed their expectations.
Overall, Noor Shopping’s distinction as Oman’s Most Trusted Brand in the supermarkets category stems from its strong adherence to its core values and its unwavering dedication to serving the community. By consistently prioritizing the community’s needs, maintaining high-quality standards, and making decisions with the community in mind, Noor Shopping has established itself as a brand that Omani consumers can trust and rely on.
How would you ensure to maintain customer satisfaction and their trust in your brand?
Ensuring customer satisfaction and maintaining their trust in our brand is of paramount importance to us at Noor Shopping. We recognise that satisfied and loyal customers are the foundation of our success.
To maintain their satisfaction and trust, we have implemented several strategies and they are:
Excellent customer service: Our dedicated customer service team is trained to provide friendly and knowledgeable assistance to our customers. We strive to create a welcoming and helpful environment in our supermarkets, where customers feel valued and their needs are met promptly and efficiently.
Product variety and innovation: We understand that customer preferences evolve over time, and their needs may vary. To cater to diverse tastes and demands, we continuously update our product range and introduce new and innovative offerings. By staying attuned to market trends and customer preferences, we ensure that our customers have access to a wide selection of high-quality products.
Competitive pricing: We believe that offering fair and competitive prices is essential to customer satisfaction. We conduct regular market research to ensure that our pricing remains competitive while maintaining the quality of our products. We aim to provide excellent value for money, allowing our customers to enjoy both affordability and quality.
Continuous improvement through community engagement: We constantly evaluate and enhance our operations and services. We value feedback from our customers and consider it a valuable source of insights for improvement. By proactively addressing any concerns or issues, we demonstrate our commitment to their satisfaction and work towards delivering an exceptional customer experience.
How many stores does Noor Shopping operate as of today in Oman and what are the future plans?
Noor Shopping currently operates 22 stores across Oman, strategically located in key communities to ensure convenient access for our customers. These stores serve as hubs for delivering our commitment to quality, community service, and customer satisfaction.
As for our future plans, Noor Shopping is dedicated to expanding our reach and further enhancing our services to meet the evolving needs of our valued customers. We have a robust growth strategy in place, which includes both organic expansion and exploring new opportunities.
In the coming years, we plan to open additional stores in carefully selected locations to better serve communities that may currently be underserved. Our objective is to ensure that more customers have access to our high-quality products and exceptional shopping experiences.
Furthermore, we are investing in technology and digital solutions to enhance our customers’ convenience and shopping experience. We recognise the importance of digital platforms in today’s fast-paced world and aim to provide innovative solutions that streamline the shopping process and offer additional benefits to our loyal customer.
What is Noor Shopping’s location strategy? How do you choose the locations for stores?
Noor Shopping’s location strategy is carefully designed to ensure that our stores are conveniently accessible to the communities we serve.
We prioritise strategic placement that takes into consideration several factors and they are:
Community needs: We conduct thorough market research and analysis to identify areas where there is a demand for a supermarket that aligns with our commitment to quality and community service. We assess the demographics, population density, and shopping patterns of potential locations to determine the level of need and the potential customer base.
Accessibility: We aim to be easily accessible to our customers, considering factors such as proximity to residential areas, transportation hubs, and major thoroughfares. Our goal is to ensure that customers can reach our stores conveniently, whether they choose to visit by car, public transportation, or on foot.
Market potential: We evaluate the market potential of each location, taking into account factors such as competition, market saturation, and growth potential. We seek out areas where we can make a positive impact and where there is an opportunity for us to thrive and serve the community effectively.
Infrastructure and facilities: We assess the availability of suitable infrastructure and facilities that align with our standards. This includes factors such as the size of the property, parking facilities, and the ability to accommodate the layout and design of a modern supermarket.
Community Engagement: We also consider the engagement and feedback we receive from the community.
We actively listen to our customers and take their input into account when considering new store locations.
Once potential locations are identified, our team conducts detailed feasibility studies to evaluate the viability of each site. This includes assessing the economic factors, conducting demographic analyses, and considering any regulatory requirements or zoning restrictions.
By carefully analysing these factors, we ensure that our store locations align with our mission, allowing us to serve the community effectively and provide our customers with the best shopping experience possible. Overall, our location strategy is driven by a thorough understanding of the community’s needs, accessibility, market potential, infrastructure, and customer feedback.
Noor Shopping is mostly involved in selling of food items. How do you ensure that suppliers stick to quality standards and efficiency norms?
At Noor Shopping, we take utmost care in ensuring the quality and freshness of the food items we offer to our customers. While we may not have direct control over the manufacturing process of the products we sell, we closely monitor the shelf life and temperature sensitivities to maintain the highest standards.
Our procurement team works diligently to establish strong relationships with trusted suppliers who share our commitment to quality. We source our products directly from reputable manufacturers and distributors who have demonstrated a track record of delivering high-quality goods.
To safeguard the freshness and quality of the products, we closely monitor the shelf life of each item. Our store shelves are regularly checked to ensure that items with expiration dates are removed promptly, reducing the chances of customers purchasing expired products. This meticulous process helps us maintain the integrity of our product offering.
We also pay careful attention to temperature-sensitive items, such as perishable goods. Our stores are equipped with proper refrigeration and storage facilities, ensuring that these items are stored at the appropriate temperatures to maintain their freshness and prevent spoilage. We conduct routine checks to monitor temperature controls and ensure that the products are stored within the recommended ranges.
In addition, we have trained our store staff to be vigilant in monitoring and reporting any concerns related to quality or shelf life. They are empowered to promptly remove any products that do not meet our stringent quality standards, further reinforcing our commitment to customer satisfaction and safety.
With rapid adoption of online shopping, what major challenges do you foresee in the future for supermarkets?
The rise of e-commerce and online grocery delivery services has increased competition for supermarkets. Online retailers often offer convenience, and a wide range of options, attracting customers who prefer the convenience of home delivery or click-and-collect services. Supermarkets need to adapt to this changing landscape and develop strategies to compete effectively in the online space.
Online shoppers have high expectations for convenience, personalised experiences, and seamless transactions. Supermarkets need to invest in user-friendly online platforms, intuitive interfaces, and robust customer service to provide a satisfying online shopping experience. Maintaining the same level of customer service and personal interaction that traditional supermarkets offer in a virtual environment is a challenge that requires innovative solutions.
Supermarkets need to find the right balance between their physical store presence and their online offerings.
While online shopping is growing, many customers still value the in-store experience for the ability to physically browse products, engage with knowledgeable staff, and enjoy the immediate gratification of purchasing items. Supermarkets need to create an Omni channel strategy that seamlessly integrates their online and offline presence, providing a cohesive shopping experience.
How do you see the supermarket and hypermarket format changing and evolving?
The supermarket and hypermarket segment is undergoing significant changes as consumer preferences and shopping habits evolve. Here are some key observations on how this segment is changing:
Shift towards convenience: Consumers are increasingly valuing convenience in their shopping experiences. This has led to the rise of smaller-format supermarkets that are strategically located in residential areas or urban centre’s, providing easy access to everyday essentials. These compact supermarkets cater to the needs of time-pressed consumers who prefer quick and hassle-free shopping trips.
Expansion of online shopping: The growth of e-commerce and online grocery shopping has disrupted the supermarket and hypermarket segment. Consumers are embracing the convenience of ordering groceries from the comfort of their homes and having them delivered or opting for click-and-collect services. Supermarkets and hypermarkets are expanding their online presence to meet this demand and remain competitive in the evolving market landscape.
Focus on fresh and local: There is a growing emphasis on fresh and locally sourced products among consumers. Supermarkets and hypermarkets are responding to this trend by increasing their offerings of fresh produce, locally sourced goods, and organic products.
This shift reflects changing consumer preferences towards healthier and more sustainable choices.
Integration of Technology: Supermarkets and hypermarkets are integrating technology into their operations to enhance the shopping experience. This includes the use of self-checkout systems, digital shelf labels, mobile payment options, and personalised marketing through loyalty programmes and targeted promotions.
Technology is also playing a significant role in inventory management, supply chain optimization, and online order fulfilment.
Diversification of Offerings: To remain competitive and cater to evolving consumer demands, supermarkets and hypermarkets are diversifying their product offerings.
They are expanding beyond traditional grocery items to include non-food categories such as household goods, electronics, clothing, and even services like pharmacies and banking facilities. This diversification is aimed at providing customers with a one-stop shopping destination and increasing customer loyalty.
Enhanced in-store experience: Despite the growth of online shopping, the in-store experience remains important. Supermarkets and hypermarkets are investing in creating attractive, well-designed store layouts, and enhancing the ambiance to make shopping more enjoyable. They are focusing on creating engaging displays, providing expert assistance from knowledgeable staff, and offering additional services such as cooking demonstrations, tasting events, and loyalty programs to enhance customer satisfaction and encourage repeat visits.
[Anurag Kumar, Head of Retail and Commercial Operations at Enhance Group, contributed in providing content for this interview]