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Etail expectations rise

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The increased connectedness of consumers is contributing to a more dynamic environment – one where expectations on what the buying experience must entail are evolving, says LEON COETZER, UK CEO of redPanda Software.

Thanks in part to the African mobile phone market that was expected to grow 6.2 percent quarter-on-quarter at the end of last year, people across the continent have come to rely on their devices as an important part of the retail process. In fact, the Online Retail in South Africa 2016 report published by World Wide Worx shows online retail accounting for one percent of the overall market in that year, equating to more than R9 billion.

In January 2018, South African retail sales showed that the market appears to be strengthening with a 3.1 percent year-on-year growth rate. And while there is still a long way to go, consumer confidence is also on the increase.

Technology provides an important link between the bricks-and-mortar and digital retail worlds. While consumers in the United States and United Kingdom are embracing a [predominantly] online-only buying experience, the South African market still requires a more integrated approach. Not only is this necessary to cater for those people who do not have access to online solutions, but consumers here still prefer the tactile experience of visiting a store.

Not just e-commerce

The gap between the customised and highly-personalised online environment versus the more traditional storefront is still significant here. Consider how your favourite e-tailers ‘know’ your likes and dislikes, purchase history, and can predict your wish list. Compare that to a shop environment where sales assistants have no insights into your buying potential and cannot offer any real value in terms of your purchase history.

Even e-tailers with shop fronts are not able to link the two, and cannot benefit from the online data they have at their disposal. Bridging the gap between digital and physical is now a key competitive advantage and those that can master it will drive growth into the future.

This will see retailers requiring an integrated platform to enhance personalisation and the customer experience. Imagine walking into your local coffee shop and making a purchase using your cryptocurrency of choice. From a retailer’s perspective, the potential of leveraging internet of things (IoT) insights into the store to take care of stock management, lighting and temperature control, and even water and electricity monitoring are immense.

Value-driven insights

Using a solution that can pull different products into a single platform empower the retailer to have that 360-degree view of their customers. Being able to pull together all user interactions, engagements, and transactions, and create a more tailor-made in-store experience, are essential elements to move away from the silo approach of old. Yes, it is a challenge to consolidate all the information from often quite disparate sources and analysing it in virtually real-time, but the right solution makes it possible.

Understanding and tracking marketing effectiveness across online and offline environments and determining which demographic gains the most out of a specific campaign, contributes massively to a more targeted sales approach that can be customised even to an individual level.

Retailers need this holistic approach to drive innovation and utilise an omni-channel customer environment. Granted, this is a buzzword that has been thrown around for several years, but it is only now possible to do so with the technology available.

Customisation and personalisation no longer need be limited to an online retail experience. It can transform the in-store one and not only grow customer loyalty but boost the ever-important business bottom-line.

A platform such as the redPanda Software’s Connected Solution uses disruptive technologies for improved customer engagement and to deliver a more inclusive experience across the online and offline sales environments. Furthermore, its partnership-driven approach means retailers can always keep abreast of the latest trends and onboard them into their operations.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

Use the page links below to continue reading about Tan’s visions.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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