With technology racing along at an exponential rate, it follows that the world is also changing rapidly in every sphere, as we know it. Everything is fast-paced and leaning towards a desire for a zero-cost system with maximum efficiency, convenience, and with no decrease in value. This is especially true in the retail industry.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited is the Chinese multinational conglomerate specialising in e-commerce, retail, Internet and technology. A few years ago, its founder, Jack Ma, used the term “New Retail” to predict the changes happening in the industry. It’s a concept where online and offline logistics merge and give you the best of online and in-shop experience.
Freshippo, is Alibaba’s grocery chain using New Retail to converge online and offline shopping. The supermarkets sell groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables and seafood and also acts as a fulfilment depot for Alibaba’s on-demand grocery delivery service.
The experience is based on your Smartphone where you can shop from home or while in store. Scan a barcode for more information about a product, specify cooked or raw, delivered in less than an hour.
Where is South Africa in all of this?
With more than 2000 shopping centers across the country, national retailers are trying to preserve their share in the market through increased store numbers and the smaller independent retailers are fighting to make ends meet and drive feet into their stores. The mindset shift is evident, and many forward-thinking retailers are already experimenting with new concepts.
Yuppiechef, an online home and kitchen store has opened several brick and mortar stores. They have realised the power of having a physical presence, combined with their online capabilities.
Several national retailers are trialing click and collect and other innovative in-store payment options with no teller needed. With the growing number of higher income earners, we will see an increase in spend in the food and beverage industry and are already seeing restaurants experimenting with new technology solutions including delivery by drone and augmented reality (AR).
It’s really all about experience and testing all the currently available futuristic digital tools to heighten the customer experience and create excitement.
What is the future of brick and mortar retail?
One of the motivators for OneCart is our strong belief in that brick and mortar in SA is not going anywhere. Physical presence will be used as a means to introduce a different kind of awareness for the business. Retailers will drive increased revenue through experiential concepts such as:
- Click & Collect
- In-store online shopping
- Exclusive online and off-line deals
- Seamless new payment options.
It’s in this multi-channel approach that will fundamentally bring sustainability to those retailers and brick & mortar stores who realise the urgency for change and adapt.
New Retail is a rapidly growing concept taking hold in South Africa. Social influencers are on the rise and brands are starting to realise that they can directly reward their customers.
Online retailers are opening brick & mortar stores and embracing this time to experiment, and create incredible experiences that will ultimately change the way we shop, online and in-store.
The fusion of off-line and online, hyper-personalisation, and the new mindset of what experience truly means, will be the test of time for retailers in South Africa.