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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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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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