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Time to join the subscription economy?

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The only way for businesses to stay competitive is for them to constantly revise their business strategies. In the past it was the on-demand economy, forcing businesses to re-address their customer service. Now it is the subscription economy, writes ADRIAN ZANETTI, MD of NEXT Solutions.

The only way your business can stay ahead of the competition is by constantly changing and adapting the way you think and plan strategies. For example, the on-demand economy has forced us to review our accessibility to consumers. Now, we are entering yet another economic sphere – the subscription economy.

When you restructure your company’s business plan to place transactions at its centre instead of products; when your focus moves to perfecting customer relations – that’s participating in the subscription economy.

Today, more and more people are re-evaluating their consumerist behaviour, moving away from owning products and focussing more on the relationship they have with companies. Consumers are craving flexibility. They are searching products that always bring them something new such as My Chocolate Box, a box filled with new chocolate products every month. In addition, they are searching for services that are available when they need it, for example, GetMore, Cell C’s 24/7 customer benefits programme.

But that’s not where their cravings end; users are demanding an array of payment methods for these subscription programmes, for instance, pay as you go, a monthly subscription fee or a long-term contract. You’re simply giving your subscriber more control over the products to which they subscribe when you offer them a choice of payment options.

Always remember the importance of your customer relationships and to ensure that they receive consistent, engaging and personal communications across multiple channels. By conducting extensive research into your specific target market and educating your agents on how to interact with clients, you can ensure the ultimate subscriber experience and establish long-term relationships. You need to offer your customers flexibility in both the communication channel and the conversation tonality. The days of a one-size-fits-all approach are long gone.

The best way you can accomplish this is by adjusting your structure, culture and processes to put the consumer first. Create a business plan by working through all the available data about your target market and production ability. In this way, you’ll be able to understand your consumers’ needs and how you should address and acquire subscribers as well as retain revenue per person. If you place too much focus on your product, by trying to upsell subscriptions without considering the customer’s needs or wants, it can lead to you losing subscribers.

We’re living in an exciting time. Just as the on-demand economy has forced us to review our availability to consumers and our user experience, so too is the subscription economy demanding ease, flexibility and improved customer relationships.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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