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Retailers must curate customers

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Recent Epson research has uncovered that consumer buying decisions rely heavily on the retail environment, so it makes sense that retailers are searching for more innovative ways to engage customers at every touchpoint, both online and in-store.

Consumer buying decisions rely heavily on the retail environment, so it makes sense that retailers are searching for more innovative ways to engage customers at every touchpoint, both online and in-store. With studies pointing to most in-store purchases being made on impulse rather than pre-planned, retailers would do well to consider how customers engage with the retail environment.

Epson research shows that current trends in the retail sector show that store layout, the use of technology for seamless integration and convenience, and the sensory experience of a space all play a role in moving a customer to the point of purchase.

The importance of strategic layout

The customer’s experience of a physical (brick and mortar) or online retail space has a surprising amount of influence on their purchasing decisions. According to the 2013 European Journal of Marketing, the number of aisles customers tend to visit is also a major influencer on their in-store decision-making. This means that using strategic design to ‘guide’ customers through the entire store would likely lead to an increase in purchases.

Other ways to achieve this include; placing popular brands as far apart as possible, positioning essential items at the back of the store, and using floor lines to create a set path for customers to walk along, to ensure they visit every part of the store. Placing pay-points strategically within the retail space also increases product visibility by ensuring the customer is forced to walk past various product displays before paying for their items.

Retailers can also boost on-the-floor efficiency by making use of intelligent point-of-sale systems, such as Epson’s TM-m30 POS receipt printer Wi-Fi capability to print receipts from virtually any mobile device, allowing cashiers to assist more customers at a quicker rate.

A similar principle applies to online retail stores – to keep visitors interested and encourage maximum engagement and sales conversions, retailers need to carefully consider how users navigate their websites. Some key aspects to think about include clever placement of call-to-action buttons and internal links, along with a beautiful and easy-to-navigate product catalogue.

Mobile payment solutions

Waiting in line to pay for goods is one of the main reasons people avoid visiting stores altogether. However, for retailers hoping to keep foot traffic flowing through the doors, mobile payment solutions are a great way to make shopping more convenient and pleasurable for customers.

Many major retailers are implementing more efficient payment systems in-store, such as payment portals and mobile receipt printers, to take the hassle out of paying for goods. Cardless payment systems are also on the rise, as app-based solutions make on-the-go transactions even easier.

In addition to traditional point-of-sale systems, mobile payment platforms add a new level of convenience which give customers the feeling of ‘jumping’ the queue.

Epson is a global leader in mobile payment solutions, and recently partnered with a major South African retailer to offer customers the convenience of quick and easy mobile transactions.

Multi-sensory experiences

To further enhance the in-store experience for customers, many retailers are creating retail environments that appeal to the five senses, following research suggesting that multi-sensory shopping experiences stimulates powerful responses from customers.

For example, pairing a specific fragrance with the relevant product has a profound psychological impact on the limbic system – an area of the brain responsible for processing smells, as well as supporting a variety of other vital functions, including emotion and memory processing.

However, this sensory combination is only effective when products are paired with familiar, complementary smells. You wouldn’t pair a cleaning product with the smell of coffee, for example, simply because the products are unrelated.

Engineering retail environments to engage all five senses – from appealing to the eyes using appropriate lighting techniques, to creating the perfect ambience through the power of sound and music – is a highly effective way to positively affect the consumer’s decision-making processes.

Designing retail environments that effectively engage with customers, on a level that makes them feel understood and their needs catered to, is growing in popularity within the retail industry. While experiential retail becomes an increasingly crucial area for retailers to understand, implementing mobile solutions also influences buying decisions and provides customers with efficient and pleasant shopping experiences.

Epson’s latest range of point-of-sale printers, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet capabilities, are designed to help transform two-dimensional retail stores into mobile and customer-friendly experiences. Visit http://www.epson.co.za/en for more information on business printing, scanning and copying solutions designed specifically for business.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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