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On-demand economy equals choice

The on-demand economy ushers in a new era of choice and convenience, writes ALEX THOMSON, co-founder at Naked, the AI-driven car insurance provider

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Today, owning DVDs and CDs seems like a quaint idea – why would you clutter your home with physical media when you can get the music or movies you want over the Internet on a pay-per-download or subscription basis? But the digitalisation of our entertainment is just the start of an on-demand economy that is rapidly changing our lives.

From fast food to personal transport, more and more of the products and services we use every day are being transformed into on-demand products. Think about the rise of ride-hailing companies like Taxify, Uber and Lyft, for example, and how they allow us to buy transport as a service with a swipe on a smartphone.

Though startups referring to themselves as the “Uber of tutoring” or the “Uber of car washing” and so on has become a cliché, there is a profound change underway in market. Many of us are moving away from owning stuff or getting tied into long-term service contracts to buying what we want or need as a service, as and when required.

As Accenture puts it in its Technology Vision 2019: “Digital tech means businesses are no longer able to just capture markets. They can capture moments, delivering goods or services to a particular customer at their particular moment of need.” Some of 85% of executives in Accenture’s global research agreed integration of customisation and real-/near-time delivery is the next wave of competitive advantage.

One of the most important factors driving the trend is the way that digital technology enables companies to deliver instant gratification. Think about how we have quickly learnt to take it for granted that an Uber will arrive five minutes after we order it, or how the global ecommerce industry has evolved towards same-day or even two-hour delivery, or how you can binge-watch a series of Netflix as soon as it drops.

Though South Africa is a bit behind the curve when it comes to delivery of ecommerce goods on the same day, we are seeing a range of startups come to market with on demand offerings that are enjoying strong consumer adoption. From domestic cleaning on demand via SweepSouth Services to WumDrop’s local courier service to OrderIn’s fast food delivery, innovation abounds.

The benefit for consumers is that they pay for the service they use – no more, no less – and get it when they need it. Here are some examples of this trend in action.

Telecoms

The mobile network operator, rain, is disrupting its market with a 4G, data-only service priced at 5c per meg, R50 a gig. You pay only for the data you use at the end of the month – no complex contracts or bundles to understand, no risk of high out of bundle charges, and no danger of your data expiring.

Television and music

Pay television survives in South Africa because of its local content and exclusive sports rights – but streaming services such as Netflix are giving it a run for its money. For many viewers, it’s attractive to pay R100 or R200 a month for a service that offers completely on-demand entertainment. You can also subscribe to a growing selection of international sport streaming services when you want to watch a big golf or tennis match. In months where money is tight or you will be travelling or there is simply nothing that you want to watch, you can easily switch off your subscriptions.

Banking

On the international front, challenger banks and fintech companies are coming to market with a range of innovative, mobile banking products and services. For example, Rocket Mortgage in the US offers home loan approvals in as little as 10 minutes, while digital banks like Starling Bank in the UK allow people to open a bank account within minutes.

South African institutions are now looking to join the party, with Tyme having recently launched its digital-centric bank and Discovery looking to deliver its own app-driven Discovery Bank later this year. Then there is Bank Zero, an initiative headed by former FNB CEO, Michael Jordaan. He, too, promises a slick, simple mobile experience when the bank launches.

Will any of these mobile challengers take the gap and offer a genuine on-demand service, perhaps offering affordable flat-fees for transactions and scrapping the monthly account fee? There may be a real disruptive opportunity here for the first institution that takes the gap.

Insurance

Insurance, traditionally a grudge purchase for most consumers, is also becoming an on-demand service as “insurtechs” and larger insurers alike offer customers digital-only customer experiences that give them more control over their insurance products and services. One example is the Sanlam-backed Go Cover – an app-based, on-demand accident cover product – which offers adrenaline junkies, holiday-makers and seasonal workers life cover of up to R1 million for as little as R30.

Car insurance, too, is turning into an on-demand service, powered by artificial intelligence and algorithms, just like ride-hailing services. For example, you can sign up for car insurance with Naked in a matter of minutes. Then, Naked’s CoverPause allows you to switch your accident cover off when you are not using their vehicle for a while.

The next wave of consumer choice

It’s no coincidence that most of the companies above are young, mobile-first startups that are unencumbered by legacy systems, processes and infrastructures. The success stories in on-demand commerce tend to start with a clean slate, building their businesses with the goal of addressing consumers’ needs and wishes at the moment they emerge.

They use technologies such as mobile apps, big data analytics and artificial intelligence to gather real-time information from their customers, and respond to their needs nearly instantaneously. As autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, drones, smart home devices and other technologies reach maturity, we can expect to see the growth of on-demand explode.

This will usher in a new era for consumers, with more freedom of choice, more flexibility and more transparency into their relationships with companies. One day we may see fixed-term contracts for cellular telephony or opaque and impersonal insurance offerings to be as old-fashioned as needing to buy an entire CD album because there was one song on it that you liked.

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Projection tech transforms retail

By TIMOTHY WILSON, visual imaging business account manager at Epson South Africa

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Display designs, such as those found in retail stores, are no longer confined to static visuals on pull-up banners, 2D print and posters. The increasingly popular use of projection technology has ushered in new and exciting ways to create immersive displays using rich media and high-quality visual content to go beyond the four walls of traditional marketing.

In the past, projectors were lamp-based and prone to failure when used in a harsh environment, such as a retail store. Today, newly introduced laser projection technology has unlocked a range of capabilities.

Transforming the way brands engage with audiences

Creative techniques such as projection mapping, which can be described as the projection of video, animation and other colourful displays onto 3D surfaces, have completely transformed the way brands engage with audiences and can live in retail spaces, concert halls and even sports stadiums.

Projection mapping offers venues wide-spread creativity in using lighting in small or large environments, as was the case with Epson’s showstopping kinetic portal, which implemented projection mapping on a 360 degree vortex at the largest AV and systems integration show in the world – Integrated Systems Europe 2019. Driven by a new, affordable generation of projectors, mapping not only covers flat walls and traditional projections screens but also irregular shapes, objects, and even entire building façades.

When projecting on a larger scale, such as at events and music concerts, the process of visually combining several projectors to display one single seamless image might sound simple enough in principle but can prove to be a challenging task in reality. To overcome this challenge, experiential marketers are adopting the use of image edge blending, which refers to the process of stacking multiple projectors to create a single overlapped projection that appears continuous and clear.

It’s due to these advancements that displays in retail and events no longer pivot just on aesthetic appeal but can now deliver immersive consumer experiences that drive engagement and increase foot traffic. This is starting to drastically change the way that retailers, events and even restaurants host, engage, entertain and communicate with their audiences.

Projection is driving growth in experiential marketing

Consumer interest in the transition towards projection has seen this technology take centre stage at leading retailers such as Mall of Africa, events by brands such as ABSA and restaurants like Saint, transforming their environments into immersive spaces through projection that displays captivating imagery and video.

Saint restaurant in Sandton has pushed the boundaries of branding and displays, transforming all surfaces into a visual delight. Patrons entering the restaurant are greeted by a visual experience within a dome, featuring a series of moving, constantly changing artworks – such as a starry night sky or a replica of the Sistine Chapel – projected onto walls and the ceiling.

In fact, EventTrack research, which showcases the current state of marketing around the globe, highlights the continuous growth of event and experiential marketing. It notes that high-quality projection technology, more specifically its ability to emit stunning visual experiences, has grown in popularity to become the go-to tool for event organisers and retailers looking to captivate and engage with consumers.

The future of projection technology

Projection technology has proven to be an outstanding, much more cost-effective and reliable form of marketing collateral – setting an entirely new standard for high-resolution projection.

Sandton City recently embraced this market-leading technology with the installation of a virtual aquarium in its Centre Court. This installation centred on creating a 3D mapping concept that enabled shoppers to select an undersea creature from a touchpad to swim across digitised hoarding.

With capabilities to meet the demands of large-scale projection and the ability to effectively transform the way brands remain visible at shopping malls, restaurants and retail spaces – the unprecedented imaging power of projection technology has set a considerably high bar when it comes to retail and event displays. 

Epson, which is not only pioneering imaging technology and innovative projection solutions, is also the market leader when it comes to high lumen laser projection, having recently announced its 30,000 lumens laser projector (EB-L30000U) which will officially launch in 2020. This high-end installation laser projector, complete with 4K enhancement, is aimed at rental and staging companies, hospitality markets and visitor attractions, which is yet another progressive step towards transforming the way marketers engage with their consumers in the 21st century. 

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GoFundMe hits R9bn in donations for people and causes

The world’s largest social fundraising platform has announced that Its community has made more than 120-million donations

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GoFundMe this week released its annual Year in Giving report, revealing that its community has donated more than 120-million times, raising over $9-billion for people, causes, and organisations since the company’s founding in 2010.

In a letter to the GoFundMe community, CEO Rob Solomon emphasised how GoFundMe witnesses not only the good in people worldwide, but their generosity and their action every day.

“As we enter a new decade, GoFundMe is committed to spreading compassion and empathy through our platform,” said Solomon in the letter. “Together, we can bring more good into the world and unlock the power of global giving.”

The GoFundMe giving community continues to grow with both repeat donors and new donors. In fact, nearly 60% of donors were new this year. After someone makes a donation, they continue to engage with the community and give to multiple causes. In fact, one passionate individual donated 293 times to 234 different fundraisers in this past year alone. Donations are made every second, ranging from $5 to $50,000. This year, more than 40% of donations were under $50.

GoFundMe continues to be a mirror of current events across the globe. This year, young changemakers started the Fridays for Futuremovement to fight climate change, which led to a 60% increase in fundraiser descriptions mentioning ‘climate change’. Additionally, the community rallied together to support one another during natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian and the California wildfires, where thousands of fundraisers were started to help those in need.

The report includes a snapshot of giving trends from the year based on global GoFundMe data. It also includes company milestones from 2019, such as launching the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, GoFundMe.org, and introducing GoFundMe Charity, which provides enterprise software with no subscription fees or contracts to charities of every size.

Highlights from GoFundMe’s 2019 Year in Giving report include:

  • Global giving trends and data
  • Top 10 most generous countries
  • Top 10 most generous U.S. states and cities
  • Biggest moments in 2019

To view the entire report, visit: www.gofundme.com/2019

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