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What Amazon’s 20th means

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Yesterday marked Amazon’s 20th anniversary. SONELIA DU PREEZ, Country Marketing Manager at EMC Southern Africa reflects on how far the industry has come over the past two decades.

Yesterday Amazon celebrated its 20th anniversary. As well as being yet another indicator of how quickly time passes, the anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on how far the retail industry has come over the past two decades and how far it can still travel.

Amazon’s success has to a large extent been born of data. It has, for example, used customer data not only to make the retail experience simpler, but also to personalise it. The idea that an online shop would recommend new purchases based on past choices was truly revolutionary and an early indicator of the promise of big data analytics.

Over the next 20 years online shopping is going to evolve further and will eventually completely overwhelm the retail space – to the extent that the traditional bricks and mortar based retailer will have to innovate significantly to remain relevant.

Technology will strengthen customer experience

Indeed, it is possible that many shops will become little more than showrooms for products that can only be bought online. Consumers will also leverage data more – to identify where they can obtain goods at the lowest price with the best customer experience. The most successful retailers meanwhile will continue to use technology as an enabler to strengthen and deepen relationships with customers. Customer loyalty will be achieved (both in terms of attraction and retention) by improving the customer experience.  Technology will be the key enabler here to ensure that customers will be provided with the best and same customer experience through every touch point.

The impact of data analytics on the online world will continue to be huge. Today online retailers can, if we ask them to, remind us of birthdays and anniversaries. In the future, not only will we be reminded of imminent birthdays but predicative analytics will be able to choose the perfect gift and even write the card for us. No more missed celebrations, and no more gifts destined for the bin.

Making mobile work harder

If the future of retail is predictive, it is also mobile. All online businesses will in the future be built from the mobile device up. Improvements in smartphone software will mean that the ‘Siri’ of the future will be even more impressive. Drawing on vast data lakes, our digital avatars will become shopping assistants, recommending new retail experiences based on our individual tastes and habits. Consumers will be able to set these retail avatars according to taste. Some consumers will abdicate responsibility for all shopping tasks to these digital assistants, safe in the knowledge that the choices the technology makes on their behalf will be as good or better than the ones they would make for themselves.

Interestingly, this digital shift will also see a decline in impulse buying. Big data, mobilisation and social media combine to mean that find exactly what we want, when we want and where it is cheapest. The days of browsing through stores and stumbling across goods may well be coming to an end, a trend that will impact on the ways in which brands market their products in the field.

Delivering to the customers’ needs

Finally, there is every reason to believe that the way in which goods are delivered is set to change. Social network delivery services are going to disrupt the industry, allowing users to order delivery-on-demand. This will impact the way in which users can receive deliveries. For example, it will be possible for shoppers to have drivers wait while they try on the clothes they have ordered, and then return unwanted goods by the same courier. The whole experience will be much more focused on meeting the customer’s needs rather than those of the delivery company or retailer.

The possibilities digital transformation promises retailers and customers alike are endless, and over the next twenty years the options made available to consumers will increase exponentially. New Amazons will emerge with business models that we can scarcely imagine today. One thing is for certain however – it’s going to be a very interesting couple of decades.

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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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