Retail apps in South Africa

South Africa has very few homegrown apps that have download figures running into the hundreds of thousands. This changed first with apps like Weather SA, Ster Kinekor and then the big banks more recently popped onto the scene. With millions of affluent clients each having a real need for these apps, there was a mini app awakening, which was coupled with the sudden growth in smartphones in South Africa. One of the first large retailer (in this case grocer) apps in South Africa was EeziCoupons from Checkers (Shoprite Holdings). This app allows shoppers to, at any time and place, collect discounts which they can redeem at tillpoints. Edgars then followed suit, with an app that could search items and return real-time stock availability. Customers could know that a certain product wasn’t in store, but that it was at another store nearby. Pick ‘n Pay’s Smart Shopper app has really taken South Africa by storm, mainly due to the fact that its current Smart Shopper loyalty programme itself has over 8 million members already. At last count the app had almost 150,000 downloads. As of now (June 2014), Woolworths has yet to launch an app for their larger retail business, although Woolworths Financial Services does have an app out for those using this offering. It will be interesting to see how Woolworths comes onto the app scene in their specific market, which has probably the largest proportion of smartphone users in South Africa. Retailers have some way to go in that their apps are all very well put together, but the in-store experience is somewhat unavailable at the moment. As...

The rise of in-store technology (in the hands of shoppers)

Ten years ago (2004), advertising-based in-store technology in South Africa was quite limited to TV monitors or small and large digital screens, PA systems with radio channels and coupon dispenser units attached to aisle shelves. Regarding in-store analytics, the tracking of foot traffic was almost solely done with infra-red foot counters and on the whole, retailers and shopping center owners had little way of engaging shoppers in-store without employing someone to do so. They also had almost no measurable method of seeing what was going on in the shop – the things they couldn’t “see” and also what they didn’t know. Nowadays, the technology that stores utilise has not improved much, in most store areas. Point-of-sale (POS) systems are often more than 10 years old and few other systems have been upgraded much. In-store digital advertising is probably the most recent of the lot, yet not very sophisticated. So it will come as quite a surprise when we tell you that the best and highest quality technology in any store does not actually belong to the store at all. It is the mobile phones in hands of shoppers that gives retailers and malls the largest opportunity to advertise. Digital screens in-store are useless if shoppers are focussed on their own mobile world. And therein lies the key. Get hold of a customer on their phones while they are in your shop, and you hit the right person at the right time in the right place, ready to make a purchase decision or take advantage of your special offer and add that extra product into their shopping basket. What’s more,...