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The binary art of selling

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We live in the digital age, where information and is more accessible. As much as this information can be analysed by businesses, the real question is, is there room to alter the sales landscape, asks DR YUDHVIR SEETHARAM, Head of Analytics at FNB.

South Africa has roughly 52% of the population that use the internet, with 70% mobile penetration. With more than half the population being enabled to use either the internet or a cell phone, businesses need to ask themselves whether digital retail strategies are the next evolution of selling. A simple, yet startling fact by GSMA is that in 2015, mobile technologies and services were already generating 6.7% of Africa’s GDP, amounting to $150bn of economic value and supporting 3.8m jobs.

As more consumer groups become digitally savvy, businesses need to shift both their approach and “shops” from being traditional to being digital. In the latest e-commerce report, South Africans frequently return to their online store, purchasing media, books or travel products – they are primarily based in metropolitan areas, visit social media sites (or check emails) while shopping and are quite at ease with technology.

These type of insights and analytics in the digital space are growing significantly to assist businesses target consumers via social media – an example of the extent to which targeting has reached are banner ads on Google or Facebook – these are usually very targeted based on individual user patterns. Around 37% of businesses are currently using social media or viral marketing as their primary marketing driver, however this number needs to grow over the next few years.

With 72% of reported online shoppers using price comparison sites, businesses cannot afford to not price their digital store products competitively. Around 60% of customers prefer to pay via credit card services rather than on delivery, implying that customers want convenience when completing their shopping. By also shopping online, you allow customers to view reviews of your product, which can help boost your sales through indirect marketing.

What businesses must understand about using online platforms is that there is an initial decision in approach that each business must take – the business can either use digital platforms to promote their brand or initiate a virtual shop. These two approaches are inherently different and impact on the strategies used to go to market. Due to the South African market, brand promotion tends to be the more rewarding approach.

Brand promotion is rewarding simply because many South Africans are on social media sites throughout the day. By increasing brand awareness, you are able to drive customers to your store in a more cost effective manner compared to traditional advertising.

When promotions are then paired with offering the convenience of shopping online, enabling a high level of customisation or personalisation of your products and even delivery of your products, you enhance the customer’s experience leading to loyalty and a much higher lifetime value.

What this then establishes as a first point of call is that businesses need to assess the feasibility of branding and/or selling in the digital space – many businesses tend to focus on the creation of a virtual store, without promoting the business itself.

The branding argument is much simpler to make – it is more cost effective and can reach a wider and more diversified audience. To sell online requires the business to evaluate whether their products are suitable for online selling – products that rely heavily on tactile sensation (touch and feel) are not ideal if the customer is viewing them on a screen. Once feasibility is established, you can then proceed to create an online catalogue along with payment mechanisms – elements of which are available from banks.

The advocacy here is not to imply that traditional stores are not suitable, but rather that businesses need to understand whether their products can be seen as more attractive to their customer, if their customers are digitally savvy by taking the product to the customer in a manner that is attractive to them.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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