RETAIL SOUTH AFRICA – The landscape and opportunities by Sonja Leoncini
For the many years I have been involved in the supply of retail solutions including software and hardware, I have always found it difficult to get lists of store retailers in South Africa. I tried many sources such as, market research agencies, large hardware, and software vendors – all to no avail.
So, I recently conducted research of my own and came up with some results based on information from stats, various shopping malls and small retail strip malls. Granted, I did not go as far as remote areas and concentrated mainly on the larger provinces but as my information grew and I viewed the charts, as I added more information the one point that came through clearly was that the vertical market share remained the same throughout.
Let me explain: FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), Hospitality, Fashion, Building, DIY, and homeware have the larger share of the market along with the many retailers I named as the “specialty” sector. The larger Tier is, of course, the Corporate or Blue-Chip retailers, such as The Foschini Group, Pick n Pay, Shoprite, PEP and so on. The next Tier forms our well-known multi-store and often multi-chain retailers and includes the likes of Busby and Cape Union Mart. You will find that most shopping malls are made up 70% of these types of retailers’ operations with the balance being independent single stores or small multi-store operations. The rest of the market, whether they be multi-store, single store owners or district specific – are often difficult to source and solutions tend to be sourced through vendors supporting these specific markets.
I also found that up until recent years, retailers “sweated” their solutions, seeing them as a necessary expense, but not as particular value adds to the business and often not keeping up to date on market and customer demands, which in this day and age changes at the speed of lightning. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced retailers to urgently revisit their existing technology strategies, making gaps more apparent. Today, however, retailers are increasingly reaping benefits by fast-tracking the implementation of new technology offerings and digitally transforming their solutions in order to survive. This in turn enables them to provide support systems that improves their business operations allowing them to acquire customers and provide superior service.
Technology driving retail growth
In today’s world of new technology, increasing innovations, customer expectations, plus an often complicated supply chain – make retailing a challenging arena in which to function. However, new technologies often offer optimal affordable solutions making it easier to implement a seamless operation.
The advent of big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), bringing up to date wide scoped information to manage the business and make educated decisions based on machine learning, have produced results no one could imagine a few years ago. This is all to the benefit of Retailer, Supply Chain and Customer.
South Africa tends to lag with some of this modern technology because of various obstacles such as: infrastructure, high cost of investment, skill sets and length of time to see ROI. In today’s economic tough times investment decisions are tough and difficult decisions to make but, in the end, it translates into sustainability and growth for your business – so, it’s worth it. South African technology businesses such as Argility are steaming ahead with world class competitive solutions at an added benefit of rand based pricing plus engaging local skills.
The SA e-commerce platform has been slower to adapt than in other countries, although some local retailers and e-commerce operations have got this right, e.g. Takealot, One Day Only, Pick n Pay and Woolworths. These retailers understand the market needs of fast turnaround, efficient delivery and the many options e-commerce offers a customer in terms of buy online and collect in store, order and receive, buy online and return at the store, buy online and return collections.
Retailers selling through brick and mortar stores, on-line or through the various social media platforms, must get the right systems in place. I am being bold in suggesting that you need efficient stock management making sure you have stock in the right place, at the right time. However, if you are wise you need to go beyond the standard information provided in your ERP systems. You want stock to satisfy customers but also to keep optimum levels and not waste capital on excess stock that could be used in other areas of business. Argility’s PredictRetail provides a next level Artificial Intelligence tool delivering improved information and forecasts keeping optimized stock, satisfied customers, and improved bottom line profits.
Using the Loyalty System to Best Advantage
Retailers want to take every opportunity to gain information and grow their customer database. With loyalty schemes in circulation consumers carry many cards to receive benefits. Why not use this information at another level. You can increase customer traffic and bottom line profits through Beacon technology. By installing a small Bluetooth device within a range and a software management platform, you can proactively communicate with your shoppers. All they must do is download your store application from an App store onto their smart device, Apple or Android and they become available to you. You can inform them of specials, new stock, promotions, product information etc. In addition, applications can also be made available to your staff to further provide customer satisfaction and service such as product and technical information, stock availability, even going as far as placing an order to be finalized at the till point.
Argility offers many solutions to support retailers in their journey through the Digital Transformation of their businesses with core and value-added software and services.
PredictRetail using AI and data science, offers a multitude of ways in which to analyse data being captured. This is achieved regardless of whether it is about: improving business operations; stock control; loyalty; promotions; customer information etc. PredictRetail displays information on many different views of dashboards with drilldown capabilities.
A Beacon of Advantage amidst a Sea of Competition
SenseView is our Beacon technology platform that offers enticing information to shoppers and sales associates and results in superior customer service. Think about knowing whether your loyal customer is in your store and greeting them by name plus knowing what type of goods they could be interested in.
We support on-line shopping through our digital asset management platform Damsense. Managing and storing whatever media you are using by linking to a central database of digital assets such as images, videos, packaging for stock products.
Argility also provides a digital delivery solution (Multitrax) to manage deliveries and collections from start to finish with seamless ease. We can engage either directly with your stores, warehouse or with your chosen courier service to provide them with a superior tool to enhance their operations.
If you have your own fleet of vehicles, we can go one step further and manage your fleet for you through our subsidiary company, Fleet Domain.
These solutions are owned and developed by the Argility Technology Group, based on over 35 years of delivering successful products to the South African retail, supply chain and fleet markets.
We welcome your engagement to discuss our solutions and how they can add value to your business.
The Argility Technology Group – is a leading innovator and implementer of customised enterprise software solutions for the retail and supply chain industries. Our vast experience combined with a depth of proprietary software and skills enables us to address the multitude of challenges facing businesses in today’s digital transformation era.
We solve complex business problems by supplying and supporting various customised software solutions such as Point of Sale, ERP, Warehouse Management, Fleet Management, IoT management software, Proximity Marketing, Data Science (Artificial Intelligence) solutions and more. We strive to become an extension of our client’s businesses and not just another solution provider.
The group’s origins trace back over thirty-five years as a leading software supplier to the retail sector. Decades of long, prosperous customer relationships bear testament to our customer-centric culture, exceptional service, and innovative thinking. From single systems to the digital transformation of an entire organisation – we have the solutions, skills, and experience.
The Argility Technology Group is comprised of: Argility; Cquential Solutions, Fleet Domain; SkyData Communications, and strategic partners, Ashanti AI, and Neo Retail Solutions. All are foremost technology developers and suppliers of customised enterprise software solutions for the Retail, Supply Chain, Fleet industries as well as a comprehensive IoT framework that enables local enterprises to integrate, manage and optimise their growing IoT ecosystems.