How SA consumers are really driving omni-channel retail


South African retailers are increasingly feeling the same, pressing consumer demand for ubiquity that has shaped and developed omni-channel retailing in more mature markets, says Nic Robertson, head of new business development for Media 24 Ecommerce.

It’s a monumental consumer challenge that is driving completely new business models for the retail industry. What buyers expect is seamless, intelligent brand touch points across the multiplicity of devices that they use and the plethora platforms where they interact, be they off– or online. And, they want to engage with a brand or retailer, whenever they choose.

Whether you have a customer who browses for products online and makes the decision to purchase in their own home; or whether a customer comes into your store and uses their phone to check prices online before they pay; you’ve got a customer who is already having an omni-channel shopping experience — whether or not your business is ready for it.

Read more: Media24 launches Efinity, its ecommerce fulfillment service

That readiness can be the difference between retaining or losing customers as the more demanding and informed customer of today also happens to very quickly move on to another brand if their experience with yours is less than satisfactory.

Offering an omni-channel shopping experience demands different models of business with silos needing to convert into networks; and understanding relationships becomes more important than understanding a single touch point. Instead of dividing their budgets between digital and traditional media, marketers are challenged to integrate channels and deliver personalised content across different media.

Supply chains, long kept in the background, need to become transparent; and inventories, traditionally localised, need to become enterprise-wide to enable convenient ordering online and picking up in-store, and much more.

Digital services have become relevant across so many areas of business, and so they need to be integrated across a whole range of departments in the organisation.

Read more: 5 lessons you can learn from the omni-channel masters

The transformation to omni-channel retailing is not just changing existing businesses; it is also ushering in opportunities to launch new businesses offering innovative services that enable a wider range of producers to become successful ecommerce merchants.

With no minimum contracts, integration costs and set-up fees, Efinity is positioned to support small and medium businesses, as well as the larger operations. Efinity’s services are used by pure play e-tailers like Spree, but they also enable bricks and mortar SA businesses to develop their omni-channel offering.

What we are seeing is a South African consumer who wants the freedom to engage with brands; to buy; to sometimes return; and to always be in charge of their particular relationship with a brand, through any channel, and at any time.

It’s up to South African producers and retailers to ensure that they are doing business in a customer-centric manner.

Neat, but rigid silos don’t work anymore, and narrowly-conceived, opaque, purpose built systems are causing organisational stress. Retailers need to find the seamless ways for their brands engage with customers, so that they can master offering the omni-channel shopping experience.



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