A rare single malt whisky from South Africa’s leading distiller is being sold online today in a one-of-a-kind live shopping experience.
Today, 27 October, consumers are able to purchase the first of 800 limited edition Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt Single Cask PX Finish whiskies from a live store, watching as the purchase is fulfilled. The experience, which is a first in South Africa, follows the launch of South Africa’s first single-cask PX Finish from the Three Ships team.
Using live streaming and innovative technology to augment the online shopping experience, the live store (www.themasterscollection.co.za) will enable consumers to interact in real time as they select the hand-numbered bottle of their choice. Consumers will see their selected bottle being collected off the shelf and watch as master distiller Andy Watts signs their name on a certificate and prepares it for delivery.
Three Ships marketing manager Liezl Dippenaar said this innovative way of making the whisky available to consumers fits in seamlessly with the limited edition nature of the product.
“To create excitement and awareness we needed a platform that’s unique in the world of online shopping to mirror the pioneering spirit of the Three Ships brand which has created many firsts for the South African whisky industry.
“The process emulates the Old World appeal of walking into a cellar, hand-picking a numbered bottle and meeting the crafter of the product as he signs and wraps your purchase. In our fast-paced life consumers seek authentic, unique experiences, meaningful engagement with the crafter and the opportunity to own a limited edition.”
Three Ships has partnered with SnapScan for the payment method. Consumers will be able to purchase only one bottle at a time to ensure that as many whisky lovers as possible can add this long-awaited whisky to their collection.
The process works as follows: The shop will be open for business from 12h00 to 22h00 on 27 October. Make sure you download the SnapScan app on your smart phone well in advance where you will be prompted to register your payment details. Visit www.themasterscollection.co.za desktop site and select the number of the bottle you would like to buy. You will be prompted to insert your delivery details and then your unique QR code will be revealed. You will then scan this code, using your SnapScan app. There’s only a 10-minute window to make your payment, so be sure to download SnapScan well in advance.
Once payment has been verified you will see your bottle being removed from the shelf and handed to Andy Watts, all in real-time. On the site you can also view footage and interviews with Andy on the story behind the creation of this limited-edition whisky.
The cost is R850 per bottle with an automatic R100 courier charge to anywhere in South Africa added to the final amount. An email will confirm purchase and delivery is expected to take up to two weeks.
The innovative site and online experience had been created by multi-award winning digital agency Quirk. Andrew Bloom, executive creative director, said they are extremely proud of the project.
“It’s not every day we get to create what pushes the digital envelope. So it’s been a fun challenge to combine the technology of a live stream with an interactive overlay, content and an e-commerce experience. Most of all we’re excited about how it makes a cold e-commerce experience human, interactive and engaging. We’re giving back to the connoisseurs a little bit of Old World romance; it’s what being a collector is all about, right?”
The Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt Single Cask PX Finish whisky was distilled in 2005 and initially matured for eight years and ten months in American oak where after a small quantity was aged for a further 14 months in a cask in which Pedro Ximènez (PX) sherry had previously been matured in.
The whisky forms part of the Master’s Collection which, over the next few years, will see a limited edition being launched each year under the Three Ships brand.
Online retail gets real
After decades of experience in selling online, retailers still seek out the secret of reaching the digital consumer, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
It’s been 23 years since the first pizza and the first bunch of flowers was sold online. One would think, after all this time, that retailers would know exactly what works, and exactly how the digital consumer thinks.
Yet, in shopping-mad South Africa, only 4% of adults regularly shop online. One could blame high data costs, low levels of tech-savviness, or lack of trust. However, that doesn’t explain why a population where more than a quarter of people have a debit or credit card and almost 40% of people use the Internet is staying away.
The new Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed, reveals that growth is in fact healthy, but is still coming off a low base. This year, the total sale of retail products online is expected to pass the R14-billion mark, making up 1.4% of total retail.
This figure represents 25% growth over 2017, and comes after the same rate of growth was seen in 2017. At this rate, it is clear that online retail is going mainstream, driven by aggressive marketing, and new shopping channels like mobile shopping.
But it is equally clear that not all retailers are getting it right. According to the study, the unwillingness of business to reinvest revenue in developing their online presence is one of the main barriers to long-term success. Only one in five companies surveyed invested more than 20% of their online turnover back into their online store. Over half invested less than 10% back.
On the surface, the industry looks healthy, as a surprisingly high 71% of online retailers surveyed say they are profitable. But this brings to mind the early days of Amazon.com, in 1996, when founder Jeff Bezos was asked when it would become profitable.
He declared that it would not be profitable for at least another five years. And if it did, he said, it would be in big trouble. He meant that it was so important for long-term sustainability that Amazon reinvest all its revenues in customer systems, that it could not afford to look for short-term profits.
According to the South African study, the single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities is customer service. A vast majority, 98% of respondents, regarded it as important. This positions customer service as the very heart of online retail. For Amazon, investment back into systems that would streamline customer service became the key to the world’s digital wallets.
In South Africa online still make up a small proportion of overall retail, but for the first time we see the promise of a broader range of businesses in terms of category, size, turnover and employee numbers. This is a sign that our local market is beginning to mature.
Clothing and apparel is the fastest growing sector, but is also the sector with the highest turnover of businesses. It illustrates the dangers of a low barrier to entry: the survival rate of online stores in this sector is probably directly opposite to the ease of setting up an online apparel store.
A fast-growing category that was fairly low on the agenda in the past, alcohol, tobacco and vaping, has benefited from the increased online supply of vapes, juices and accessories. It also suggests that smoking bans, and the change in the legal status of marijuana during the survey, may have boosted demand.
In the coming weeks, we can expect online retail to fall under the spotlight as never before. Black Friday, a shopping tradition imported “wholesale” from the United States, is expected to become the biggest online shopping day of the year in South Africa, as it is in the USA.
Initially, it was just a gimmick in South Africa, attempting to cash in on what was a purely American tradition of insane sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. It is followed by Cyber Monday, making the entire weekend one of major promotions and great bargains.
It has grown every year in South Africa since its first introduction about six years ago, and last year it broke into the mainstream, with numerous high profile retailers embracing it, and many consumers experiencing it for the first time.
It is now positioned as the prime bargain day of the year for consumers, and many wait in anticipation for it, as they do in the USA. Along with Cyber Monday, it provides an excuse for retailers to go all out in their marketing, and for consumers to storm the display shelves or web pages. South African shoppers, clearly, are easily enticed by bargains.
Word of mouth around Black Friday has also grown massively in the past two years, driven by both media and shoppers who have found ridiculous bargains. As news spreads that the most ridiculous of the bargains are to be had online, even those who were reticent of digital shopping will be tempted to convert.
The Online Retail in SA 2019 report has shown over the years that, as people become more experienced in using the Internet, their propensity to shop online increases. This is part of the World Wide Worx model known as the Digital Participation Curve. The key missing factor in the Curve is that most retailers do not know how to convert that propensity into actual online shopping behaviour. Black Friday will be one of the keys to conversion.
Carry on reading to find out about the online retailers of the year.
Reliable satellite Internet?
MzansiSat, a satellite-Internet business, aims to beam Internet connections to places in South Africa which don’t have access to cabled and mobile network infrastructure, writes BRYAN TURNER.
Stellenbosch-based MzansiSat promises to provide cheap wholesale Internet to Internet Service Providers for as little as R25 per Gigabyte. Providers who offer more expensive Internet services could benefit greatly from partnering with MzansiSat, says the company.
“Using MzansiSat, we hope that we can carry over cost-savings benefits to the consumer,” says Victor Stephanopoli, MzansiSat chief operating officer.
The company, which has been spun off from StellSat, has been looking to increase its investor portfolio while it waits for spectrum approval. The additional investment will allow MzansiSat’s satellite to operate in more regions across Africa.
The MzansiSat satellite is being built by Thales Alenia Space, a French company which is also acting as technical partner to MzansiSat. In addition to building the satellite, Thales Alenia Space will also be assisting MzansiSat in coordinating the launch. The company intends to launch the satellite into the 56°E orbital slot in a geostationary orbit, which enables communication almost anywhere in Africa. The launch is expected to happen in 2022.
The satellite will have 76 transponders, 48 of which will be Ku-band and 28 C-band. Ku-band is all about high-speed performance, while C-band deals with weather-resistance. The design intention is for customers of MzansiSat to choose between very cheap, reliable data and very fast, power-efficient data.
C-band is an older technology, which makes bandwidth cheaper and almost never affected by rain but requires bigger dishes and slower bandwidth compared to Ku-band connections. On the other hand, Ku-band is faster, experiences less microwave interference, and requires less power to run – but is less reliable with bad weather conditions.
MzansiSat’s potential military applications are significant, due to the nature of the military being mobile and possibly in remote areas without connectivity. Connectivity everywhere would be potentially be life-saving.
Consumers in remote areas will benefit, even though satellite is higher in latency than fibre and LTE connections. While this level of latency is high (a fifth of a second in theory), satellite connections are still adequate for browsing the Internet and watching online content.
The Internet of Things (IoT) may see the benefits of satellite Internet before consumers do. The applications of IoT in agriculture are vast, from hydration sensors to soil nutrient testers, and can be realised with an Internet connection which is available in a remote area.
Stephanopoli says that e-learning in remote areas can also benefit from MzansiSat’s presence, as many school resources are becoming readily available online.
“Through our network, the learning experience can be beamed into classrooms across the country to substitute or complement local resources within the South African schooling system.”