Top considerations when approaching retailers in Saudi Arabia
There are a variety of different routes to market when it comes to approaching Saudi Arabia, each with their own pros and cons.
From working with a local partner who can make introductions with their networks and help get you in front of the right people, to distributors who already have established relationships with retailers across the country.
Of course, you can always go direct to retail, but be aware that many already work with preferred suppliers and brands so it might be more difficult for you to get a foot in the door.
With that in mind, here are some insights for when it comes to working with retailers in Saudi Arabia, from our own experiences.
Category Management is still a relatively new concept in Saudi Arabia, although it does exist with retailers. Range reviews, that many British and European suppliers will be familiar with, aren’t something we have come across when approaching retailers in Saudi Arabia. This can be helpful when trying to enter the market as you are not constrained by a specific timeframe during the year in which to present your products.
Having said that there are times of the year which can be tricky to approach for new listings. Calendar and fiscal year end, as well as the run up to the busy Ramadan period (yes despite the population fasting!) can be problematic. The summer months also tend to be much slower too and during the hottest periods many citizens spend extended time overseas in cooler climates.
Depending on your route to market then an approach to the relevant Import Manager or department within the target supermarket or hypermarket chain may be more suitable. These people are usually separate to the category management team. If a direct to retail strategy is a possible and viable approach, then this can be a good way in which to drive initial market penetration.
However, do be aware that listing fees and an investment plan may be applicable through this route. This can be where the value of working with a local partner can be helpful as they can assist in navigating with market entry. Moreover, thanks to their close relationship and multiple listings, a local partner may be in a stronger position to negotiate listings and other fees with their retailer customers than you as a newcomer.