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Technology and convenience define the new face of retailing

Retailing in South Africa is changing dramatically, with the evolution being led by technology and a greater need for convenience. The ‘IMM Journal of Strategic Marketing’ reports in its latest issue (Issue 2 2018) that, in an environment where consumer demands are becoming ever more sophisticated, retailers have turned increasingly to digital technology for solutions.

“Digital technology will be the biggest driver of change in retail for the next five to 10 years,” predicts Doug Murray, CEO of The Foschini Group (TFG). Among the group’s brands are clothing chains Foschini and Markham, sports retailer Totalsports, and homeware retailer @Home.

Indeed, TFG has prioritised the adoption of technology and Murray notes that two group directors are charged with keeping track of the latest technological developments and their application in areas relevant to the group.

Among these is the efficient use of big data gleaned from sources such as loyalty programmes and shoppers’ in-store and online product-buying preferences. “Our marketing is highly targeted to the preferences of individual customers,” explains Murray. “Using data analytics to understand our customers and communicate with them in a meaningful way is a key element of our strategy.”

There are other challenges too. Clicks, for example, is working to resolve the often lengthy queues at its in-store pharmacies. “They are the biggest source of complaints we have from customers,” observes CEO David Kneale.

Turning to technology for a solution, Clicks has recently introduced a mobile app which enables pharmacy staff to inform in-store customers when their medication is ready for collection.

Other articles in the latest edition of the magazine include an analysis how artificial intelligence (AI) may impact the future of advertising, and a look at breakthroughs in neuroscience that will benefit marketing and sales professionals.

The ‘IMM Journal of Strategic Marketing’ is published by the IMM Graduate School and is available in print and digital formats.