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How e-Commerce stores have started opening up physical stores and physical stores went digital

e-Commerce - IMM Blog Image Main

Over the past few years, e-Commerce has picked up significantly around the world as people are opting to find more convenient and in a lot of cases, cheaper ways to shop. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of e-Commerce was exponential globally (read more about that in our blog “How Covid-19 increased consumerism despite many losing their jobs and streams of income”). The push to go digital has been great for brick and mortar stores. Snap lockdowns, social distancing rules and globally the risk factor of going out for non-essentials (and even essentials) continue to pose a risk for community health. Many stores have therefore opted to open up digital stores. Almost everything these days exists digitally and if your business isn’t shoppable online in these times, you probably aren’t going to be able to sustain it for much longer. Checkers60 were pioneers of online trade in 2019 (read more about that here), but other grocers and even pharmacies are now forced to head in the same direction.

Shop Online - IMM Blog Image

Why are online stores looking to open up physical stores and why are physical stores opening up online stores – The bid for hybrid shopping is here.

According to Repsly, online retail startups who often pride themselves on being nontraditional are now working to bring back established brick and mortar stores while maintaining their fresh image online and even typically launching new products online first, rather than in-store.

Similarly, Repsly also reports that physical stores have also had to start leveraging the trend of online shopping. For most retailers, their big retailers use their stores as fulfilment centers.

Thus, combining the two and creating a hybrid-like model whereby consumers can shop online, but collect in-store gives major retailers the best of both worlds. The Mr Price Group has done this exact hybrid model of order online, pick up in-store, incentivising store visits through quicker collection and free collection as opposed to longer wait periods and fees associated with delivery.

Online Shopping - IMM Blog image

This article suggests that the move for online stores to go brick-and-mortar lies within the fact that 85% of consumerism occurs physically. However, this now dated article (2019) does not consider the implications of in-store shopping in relation to COVID-19.

In spite of this, it goes on to explain that online retailers have many reasons for adding an offline presence due to the buying culture that still exists, the experience customers enjoy when visiting a store and the necessity in reaching a wider, but to an extent more targeted clientele.

In some situations, shopping in a store is also quicker (from an instant receipt of goods perspective) and more convenient (from a touch, feel, try and choose perspective) than shopping online. In addition, physical stores serve as local distribution centers for online retailers.

Shopping in Store - IMM Blog Image

Conclusion

For any retailer, big or small, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a number of threats to businesses. Many businesses liquidated, but also many started to spring up as people began to look for new ways to earn money. For brick and mortar stores, the cost of maintaining shops open while there were no customers buying in-store was a forceful hand to go digital. Since consumers have now primarily gone towards and are still growingly leaning towards online shopping, it is only sensible for the survival of retailers to exist online and for their product catalogues to also be present online.

Likewise, for online retailers, opening up physical stores gives way for storage capacity and can act as fulfilment centers, but also expand their customer reach for shoppers who typically prefer in-store shopping.

In conclusion, a hybrid of this model may prove to be the most effective.

Depending on the business itself, giving consumers the best of both worlds and catering to all kinds of shoppers is always better.

Online Shopping Conclusion - IMM Blog Image

Vaccination Vacation – how the Maldives hopes to boost their economy through a vaccination vacation

Vaccination IMM Blog Image

The Maldives has suffered significantly due to the border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, through a loyalty programme and their vaccination-vacation concept, the country hopes to rejuvenate its tourism industry.

Maldives

The Maldives – a paradise on earth that needs no introduction. This small, picturesque country made up of several islands mainly developed for tourists, holidaymakers and famously, honeymooners, has seen a considerable dip in revenue since border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the Maldives will soon offer tourists vaccinations on arrival as part of the country’s three-pointed initiative to revitalise its struggling tourism industry.

 

Maldives Economy

An introduction to the Maldivian economy

In 2009, 42.7% of the local Maldivian population were living on less than $5.50USD a day. In a bid to restabilise the country’s economy, investments and funding by both government and private funders were introduced at a multi-level and multi-industry developments have been made to the little Islands’ in recent years, including improvements to the education and healthcare sectors.

This in turn salvaged the unemployment crisis and restabilised the local economy. Within seven years, the poverty rate decreased to 3.4% and the exquisite country now boasts a close to 100% literacy rate and a life year expectancy of more than 78 years old, according to the Borgan Project.

It is through these huge economic developments; the Maldives has attained the status of an ‘upper-middle-income’ country. With tourism accounting for 21% of the Maldives GDP in 2019 (pre-COVID), it is fair to say that the country depends on the tourism industry greatly.

However, what happens to a country like the Maldives with a pandemic and the untimely occurrence of COVID-19, global travel restrictions and the tourism industry globally shutting down is devastating to its economy.

The Maldives began experiencing the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic early on already in March 2020. After the tourism industry abruptly halted, the border was initially closed until mid-July 2020. Due to the decline in tourism in 2020, gross domestic product dropped to 28%, and the poverty rate increased to 7.2%.

 

Maldives - vacation to promote tourism

The “3 V” strategy: visit, vaccinate, vacation – How the Maldives is implementing the vaccination vacation to promote tourism

Despite the reopening of travel to the country, only some 18,000 travelers visited the country, unlike the monthly 140 000 visitors pre-COVID. According to Al-Jazeera, a leading global news agency, the Maldivian government pulled out “all the stops” to prompt travelers back into the country for tourism.

These included a quick vaccination roll out for locals, excess stocking up on hospital supplies, safeguarding tourists through the promotion of accessible healthcare and the introduction of a “point” system so that tourists gain value-for-money during their travels.

Described as a “more convenient” way of traveling to the country, the 3V strategy emphasises “visit, vaccinate, and vacation” to attract visitors, Abdulla Mausoom, Tourism Minister of the Maldives, told CNBC.

 

Maldives - Strategy

How does the strategy work?

The country has already fully vaccinated 58% of its own population and with further vaccines coming through via the COVAX system with the World Health Organisation and other donated viles from neighbouring countries like India, the Maldives hopes to be able to secure enough vaccines to fully immunise its population and then vaccinate on arrival, without quarantine any visitors.

The strategy itself is as straightforward as it sounds. To further their bid for more tourist visits, the Maldivian Department of Tourism has also announced the ‘Border Miles’ programme, established to entice tourists to visit more than once. Working on a point system, the programme will award visitors points per entry and in turn, visitors can find themselves enjoying posh holidays at a lower cost.

 

Maldives image

 

Digital vs traditional marketing – how has it been influenced by COVID-19?

Digital vs traditional marketing 1

The debate of whether digital or traditional marketing is most valuable or otherwise more effective is an endless one. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic first hit, the shift towards digital has been exponential as traditional channels for advertising have come under pressure, become a lot more expensive and in some cases, obsolete.

 

As consumers have had to adjust their lifestyle habits during this time, their media habits have also changed; creating very real consequences for the ‘traditional’ media industry and new, accelerated opportunities for its ‘digital’ counterparts.

 

What’s the difference?

When we refer to ‘traditional marketing’, we are including any form of marketing that does not involve the Internet or digital technology. 99Designs passionately describes “The immersive experience of an impactful TV commercial and the tactile nature of a copy of Rolling Stone magazine are as important today as they were 20 years ago because of their lasting effects on your memory. Subconsciously you attach yourself to their brand emotionally, meaning they will stay at the top of your mind.”

Traditional media are just that – tactile and they exist in real time, physically. There are five main categories in this classification:

  • Print Marketing – magazines, newsletters, newspapers and catalogues.
  • Broadcast Marketing – radio, television and cinema.
  • Direct Mail Marketing – pamphlets and brochures.
  • Telephone Marketing – telemarketers or call centres.
  • Outdoor Marketing – billboards, bus stops and posters.

Digital marketing depends on the internet and the platforms it offers for a company to have a presence on it. It includes some of the following types of marketing strategies:

  • Search Engine Optimisation – the process of enhancing the volume and quality of web traffic directed to a website or a web page using keywords most commonly searched.
  • Social Media Marketing – the process of promoting products and services using Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or LinkedIn.
  • Paid Search Advertising – when companies or organisations pay search engine providers such as Google, Bing or Yahoo to pop up first on a specific search input by consumers.
  • Affiliate Marketing – the practice of an online retailer paying commissions to an external website to run ads or take up ad space on the website, in return for traffic or sales.
  • Email Marketing – works by sending a mass email to a group of people (usually mailing lists or newsletter subscribers) a promotional message that encourages website traffic or sales for example.

 

Death of TVThere are many different views on whether or not traditional media or marketing is dying or not. Those that say no are usually the bigger businesses with massive budgets that continue to plough their money into television, radio and other printed forms of advertising.

The trouble with these forms of media is that they do not appear on a person’s smartphone or tablet. With the whole world looking down these days to the lit-up screen in the palm of their hand, who’s to say they will see your billboard or poster, let alone read a newspaper or magazine? Even if they were to be interested in what you have to say, the effort of going into a physical store or having to memorise the dates and times of your event is just too much when compared to it’s ‘click and buy’ from your smartphone alternatives.

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 has pushed the consumer to digital channels

Let’s review what has been happening in each on the traditional marketing media industries in South Africa recently:

 

Print Media

In July last year (2020), as COVID-19 swept through the country and lockdowns started to roll-out over extended periods, Media24 announced the closure of many of their magazine and newspaper titles. CEO, Ishmet Davidson stated “the pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline in print media, resulting in a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations with significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April.” Ishmet also stated that Media24 is reshaping to further accelerate its transition to an increasingly digital world.

Magazine and newspaper titles were impacted as follows:

Magazine portfolio:

  • Move! and the Hearst portfolio (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Bicycling, Runner’s World) have been closed.
  • DRUM was moved into a digital format only.
  • The frequency of the monthly magazines was reduced to six issues per year, and eight issues for tuis | home, SA Hunter/Jagter and Man Magnum.

Newspaper portfolio:

  • Son op Sondag and Sunday Sun have been closed.
  • The Eastern Cape edition of Son has been closed.
  • Die Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap have been moved to digital editions only.
  • Amanzimtoti Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Hillcrest Fever and Maritzburg Fever have been closed.
  • Several other titles have been consolidated into one.
  • The Witness has moved into a digital format.

 

Cinema

As we move to the big screen, we see a similar picture emerging where Cinema chains like Ster-Kinekor, Nu Metro, Cine Centre as well as other independent cinemas had to close completely for lockdown against an already dwindling attendance backdrop. The lockdown also led to record highs of streaming, with Netflix for example earning around 16 million new customers over the quarantine period. People love to be entertained, and will continue to watch movies, but perhaps they have found a cheaper, more convenient way to get their fix.

 

Television

Not everyone is on Netflix or another alternative streaming channel. According to the Advertising Media Forum (AMF), time spent viewing TV during lock down almost doubled. However, ad spend declined by 27% between March and April last year. This happened as a result of advertisers’ cash flow drying up due to their supply and demand slowing down. So, with a reduction in ad spend and resulting financial strain, we may see further changes in the television broadcasting industry in months to come. According to the Daily Maverick (Jan 2021), the SABC is already struggling and is owed R57.1-million in unpaid television licences and advertising fees by government departments, municipalities and state-owned entities (SOEs): R29.2-million was owed in advertising sales, with R4.5-million owed by SOEs, R9.2-million owed by provincial departments, R13.1-million by national departments and R2.3-million by municipalities.

 

Direct Marketing

While not as a direct result of COVID-19, in January this year MyBroadband reported “The South African Post Office (SAPO) is on the brink of collapse and is facing bankruptcy despite receiving R8 billion in bailouts since 2014.” It also reported that “Notices on the doors of some SA Post Office branches now state “Closed until further notice” without a clear indication of where people can now get services from.”

This is not good news for direct marketing companies or businesses that rely on post as a channel for marketing and has forced them to move their efforts to email. Findings from Statista indicate that there are nearly four billion email users in the world. Campaign Monitor research reported that 72% of people would rather receive marketing materials from brands through their email.

 

Out Of Home (OOH)

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising was one of the worst hit by the pandemic as lockdowns sent people home, away from their offices and CBDs and prevented them from being able to commute or travel nationally and internationally. This has dramatically reduced the amount of people exposed to billboards. This channel is expected to return, but who knows when and how long it will take to return to previous revenue levels as its share of the marketing budget may have already been ‘lost’ to other digital platforms like Google display or social media ads?

 

The benefits of digital media

Social Media and digital marketing have made customer engagement and personalisation so efficient. The benefit of digital marketing from the perspective of advertisers is that it’s so much cheaper for wider reach, than the cost it would be to use a traditional platform for less reach. Other benefits listed by LeGusTry are that digital marketing offers the highest return on ad spend investment, higher exposure to new clientele and higher engagement rates.

 

benefits of digital mediaThis also evens the playing field somewhat in that smaller businesses are now able to compete with bigger corporates in the same markets. Where before, spending thousands of Rands on television and radio adverts were simply not an option.

Unlike traditional media is can be said that digital marketing uses every touch point of your daily use of the internet to reach you.

Conclusion

Marketing is an ever changing industry and marketers are constantly being pushed to new levels to improve sales and drive traffic to their products and services. With the advent of Social Media, the need for traditional marketing techniques has shown a steady decline as more and more consumers have moved away from traditional TV, radio and print media, to news and entertainment via the internet on their mobile devices.

With the unique circumstances COVID-19 is presenting, the demand for traditional advertising channels along with locked down audiences has dwindled. During this time, companies have heavily relied on Digital Marketing strategies to stay relevant and drive sales. The shift to digital does not start or end with the pandemic, but a global lockdown definitely showed the power of social media in the absence of physical movement and real-time, real-life forms of media like billboards and newspapers. The question is whether or not this trend will reverse when COVID-19 is finally a thing of the past.

Covid-19’s impact on supply networks is slowing down the fight against climate change

Solar Energy

 

covid-19Solar energy developers around the world are slowed down by a spike in the costs of materials, labour and transporting as the world economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic (read more about that here). . An Economic Times India article suggests the zero-emissions solar energy market is showing slower growth at a time when world governments are ramping up their efforts against climate change, and marks a reversal to growth after a decade of lowering prices. One of the greatest challenges to solar energy manufacturers is the soaring cost of steel, which has risen three times in the past year, not to mention the unsteady cost of transportation and the uncertainty of when materials will become available for manufacturing to continue. The pandemic has caused inflation to occur at a staggering rate and many industries are struggling to keep up.

What does this mean for climate change

An online poll by Power Technology readers showed that 54.1% believe a pandemic induced recession could hurt renewable energy development, which in turn, puts us further behind in addressing the climate crisis. With the Covid-19 outbreak hitting the global supply chain and single companies alike, renewable energy growth is expected to slow, with projects consistently being delayed or cancelled as a result. The consequence of this is globally the fight against climate change as per the Paris Agreement, will be put on hold for an extended period of time. While the pandemic has forced us to slow down, the rate of climate change has not. A Time article explains that “Every day, due to rising water levels, some part of the world must evacuate to higher ground.”

 

Climate Change

Demand for solar energy

The demand for solar energy is higher now than ever before. More countries are facing longer, hotter summers and the energy source itself can easily be distributed and rerouted into national electricity lines as Australia has already done. The booming demand for solar energy is however only as in demand as it is available and affordable. With the rising costs of solar energy materials and installations, more and more companies and individuals alike could turn it away for a longer period of time than what the earth can afford. Without renewable energy sources like solar energy, the world depends heavily on non-renewable sources like oil and coal. If we don’t act now, Octopus Energy predicts that global oil deposits will deplete by 2052 and coal and natural gasses are expected to last only until 2060 (read more here).

 

Global warming, pandemic

How the pandemic has affected global warming and in turn, slowed down supply chains

Global logistics industry leaders, EY, conducted a survey on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry and its effects on the job market. The report comes as no surprise that only 2% of companies surveyed stated they were fully prepared for the pandemic. 72% of those affected reported experiencing serious disruptions, while 17% reported significant disruptions (55% reported mostly negative effects). The graph provided by EY illustrates this finding.

Pandemic Chart

Although many employees were requested to work remotely, others – especially in factory settings – had to make new arrangements to ensure physical distancing and were required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). High-tech industries and industrial products manufacturers are investing heavily in technology to limit employee exposure to COVID-19.  Additionally, 47% of all companies reported workforce disruptions due to the pandemic. These are just a few examples of changes affecting supply chains across various sectors. Thus it’s unsurprising that more logistics companies are looking to further empower their labourers through reskilling to help the workforce readjust to the new normal the pandemic has forced the industry into. A Price Waterhouse and Cooper report from April 2020 suggests that there has been a global decline in transport activity and this in itself has forced many workers in the supply chain to be jobless for months on end due to lockdowns. However, in 2021 it is evident that the demand for at-home deliveries has increased.

Conclusion

The Covid 19 pandemic has put immense strain on the world’s resources. Solar energy production has not been spared. We are already in a race against time to reverse global warming. We must seek ways to shorten supply chains by sourcing locally available materials to create renewable energy sources that are  sustainable and more robust against something as unpredictable as a global pandemic. Who knows when the next one could hit.

Advertising during a pandemic: Brands that got it right!

Advertising during a pandemic

ALRENE COETZEE, Social Media Manager at Digital Content Lab shares a light-hearted review on how some brands broke through the noise of COVID-19 advertising by showing us the funny side of the pandemic.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa at the beginning of 2020, a full national lockdown began at midnight on Thursday 26 March. Many brands had to make rather big adjustments to their marketing strategies in order to reach their customers at home using digital marketing tactics.

So here we are, almost a year later, and still stuck with endless adverts from brands who seem to have gotten the same memo to bombard us with their sombre piano music and empty roads, reminding us THAT WE CANNOT BE TOGETHER, but at the same time WE ARE NEVER APART.

But just when we thought it was time to zone out of these depressing ads, something unexpected happened…

Saved by humour
Here are four brands who thankfully took a different approach and changed the game completely by appealing to our sense of humour through clever and engaging content.

Chicken Licken SA (84,713 Youtube views)

Chicken Licken SA really did their slogan “Soul Food for a Soul Nation” justice with their COVID-19 campaign video portraying South Africa’s unique sense of humour amidst the pandemic. The video includes snippets of how South Africans try to outsmart the COVID-19 rules along with the famous zol-song and the president’s struggle with his mask. They made sure to keep things on the light side.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjly7EsmUYY

King Price Insurance (3,381,998 Youtube views)

King Price Insurance had some fun with their hashtag “#UnapologeticallySouthAfrican”. Their COVID-19 campaign video opens with a woman approaching a roadblock where a police officer continues to check her temperature and asks for her permit. A funny series of misunderstandings take place pointing out the struggles we face in a light-hearted way. The traffic officer takes her temperature and tells her she is ‘very hot’ to which she responds that she is married.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M35_uhXFbmE

Nando’s SA (18,159 Youtube views)

Nando’s SA took the jolly “We wish you a Merry Christmas” carol and turned it into a funny, witty song introducing their “Say ‘tsek to 2020 Fed-up Festive Feast”. They sure made us realise that even though we have our downs, our truly South African sense of humour cannot be taken away from us.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g25anWNqwkk

Castle Lite SA (515,455 Youtube views)

Castle Lite’s intro to their #HitRefresh on 2020 played on that one phrase South Africans know all too well… “My fellow South Africans”. In their video there is a small town called Hotazel where the temperature gets, well… hot as hell. They used the COVID-19 nation address and turned it into a fun commercial, making us feel refreshed for a 2021.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlDIgsLiM8c&feature=youtu.be

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is no laughing matter, at least these brands managed to lift the spirits of the nation while promoting their brand.

Jokes aside
If you or the marketing team in your company is not geared up to drive your digital marketing strategy this year, then consider the IMM Graduate School’s Applied Digital Marketing Certificate course. In 10 months, you could be upskilled with some of the latest strategic thinking and best practice from the industry.

This course promises to be the most up to date course available as it is continuously reviewed and updated by our tutors that work in the digital marketing industry. Here’s what one of our students had to say about this course:

“Thank you so much for the ADMC course, it was really an eye opener to what I thought I already knew. This course was really what I needed to enhance my marketing qualification and added to my understanding of digital marketing.” Tokologo Mokoena (Marketing Manager – SABC – Ikwekwezi FM)

Being a digital marketer in 2021 means you need to have a wide range of skills; from technical know-how to content creation. In this practical, hands-on course we introduce you to the tools required to be a successful and efficient digital marketer. If you would like to apply for this course or would like more information, follow the link to our website https://shortcourses.imm.ac.za/online-course/applied-digital-marketing-certificate/.

Say hello to uninterrupted COVID proof education!

Uniterrupter Covid Education

The only thing that is guaranteed right now is change and 2020 has undoubtedly offered proof of that! COVID-19 also sometimes referred to as “RONA” has had a massive impact on students and student life. But, it’s not all doom and gloom, there is a way to stay safe and enjoy uninterrupted studies for this year regardless of the lockdown level or which variant of the COVID-19 virus is doing its rounds.

It is still possible to plan for a future despite the challenges being presented
The matric exams which ended on 15 December 2020 are currently being marked and results are expected to be released on 22 February 2021. While matrics seem to have been left in a sort of limbo, Blade Nzimande, Minister of Education, has urged students not to fret. Traditional Tertiary Education Institutions have all set their academic year to begin between early-March and mid-April. This gives matrics ample time to settle into their choice of studies.

But, there is no need to wait to apply
Charmaine du Plessis, Chief Marketing Officer at the IMM Graduate School has advised matrics to apply with their prelim results. “Most matrics have an idea, even before they write finals whether or not they are expecting a Bachelor’s or Diploma pass. The IMM Graduate School has a structured process where students applying for a degree programme but don’t qualify (with their final results), can move to either a Diploma, Higher Certificate or other course within the IMM Graduate Schools bouquet of offerings.”

image2Everybody that applies to the IMM Graduate School will be assisted to find a suitable programme to study

Du Plessis urges students that already have a qualification and want to register for a Postgraduate programme to do so as soon as possible to avoid the inevitable rush that is expected when matrics eventually receive their results. “We are anticipating a peak registration period, so to avoid longer call back times and (digital) queues, rather get your application in now”.

We ALWAYS have space for you
The IMM Graduate School has geared up to take on more students this year. The COVID-19 lockdown was a catalyst in the adoption of online learning in South Africa and the IMM Graduate Schools academic department along with support functions have adapted their processes to take on an increased number of students for the year.

This is just as well since UNISA has recently announced that it will be decreasing student intake numbers by 20,000 students this year. Part of the reason for admitting fewer students is the inability of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to meet the demand.

Another is that some buildings on the UNISA campus have been closed indefinitely due to COVID-19 and in an effort to keep everyone safe they have announced that there will only be one registration period for the 2021 academic year. This means that all modules for 2021 – for both semesters – must be registered before 12 March 2021.

If you have applied at UNISA and find that your registration has been unsuccessful due to any of the above or any other reasons, then turn to the IMM Graduate School – we can be your academic home for the next few years. We are able to offer you an uninterrupted fully online education backed by an established and committed academic team. And if COVID-19 lets up and allows for it, you can at any time sign up for classroom education at one of our many student support centres countrywide.

“Furthermore, to assist student financially during these tough economic times, we have partnered with Study Loans 4U. Study Loans 4U has relationships with the major banks and is able to not only secure the most favourable terms but also to increase the chance of a loan application being approved. Study Loans 4U does all the administrative work to make sure that the application process is quick, easy and stress free. In addition, the IMM has in place an instalment payment options which allows students to bay for their studies throughout the semester”, adds du Plessis.

Our registrations for 2021 are still open, but don’t leave it too late. You shouldn’t have to delay your goals by missing even one semester/term of studies. Take as much control as you can over what is controllable. Your health and your education. See you soon!