How retailers can apply platform business thinking to magnetise customers

How retailers can apply platform business thinking to magnetise customers

By Mpumi Nhlapo, Head: Demand Management at T-Systems South Africa

Platform thinking should be the foundation of local retailers’ digital journeys

With platforms, value flows in many directions (not the traditional one-way, linear model)

Mpumi Nhlapo, Head: Demand Management at T-Systems South Africa

Platforms allow retailers to connect with their ecosystem in new ways, and facilitate greater flow of value between parties

Local retailers have an incredible opportunity to get a head-start on competition, by applying the science of digital platform thinking, to transform decades-old practices and deliver new value to customers.

Platform businesses – the likes of YouTube or AirBNB – facilitate the flow of value in a multitude of directions. This is in sharp contrast to the typical retail model: a linear, one-dimensional flow of value from the manufacturer, to wholesaler, distributor, and retailer and finally to consumer.

With platform thinking, this linear model is replaced by a three-dimensional approach to the ecosystem – where the retailer considers how it can harness the power of digital technologies to give customers, suppliers, partners and others the right tools to engage and exchange value.

The example of schools
In practice, what does this really mean?

Let’s look at a classic example of school wear, stationery and textbooks. For most parents, the beginning of the year is a mad scramble to assemble all the requirements that the schools ask of their learners.

With so many of these items ‘standardised’ for everyone, what’s stopping retailers from partnering with the major schools in the area, and preparing pre-bundled offerings that encompass everything the parent needs? This entire ‘basket’ could be queued up, paid for at the touch of a smartphone app, and readied for in-store delivery at the customer’s convenience.

Platform thinking asks what are the new stakeholders and role-players that can be ‘plugged into’ the retailers’ platform – such as a network of schools in this particular case.

“Deepening of the digital journey – retailers need to think differently about how they interact with their ecosystem”

Connecting the dots
For this new approach to gain traction, a retailer may well need to start integrating what has traditionally been a fractured landscape of disparate systems: the likes of transactional engines, loyalty programmes, store credit systems, debtor management, stock management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing tools.

By adopting a new breed of loose, decoupled middleware applications and micro-services, retailers can ‘glue together’ these systems to start exposing services to external third-parties in the ecosystem.

This also helps to build richer customer profiles, as the very heart of any good platform strategy must be the focus on getting to know customers better.

To this end, new beacon technologies, facial recognition, geolocation and other technologies can help to better identify and understand customers.

In fact, by better understanding shopping habits retailers experience an important value-flow back from the customer. They know what they need to change (such as new items to stock) and position themselves to provide hyper-personalised services to customers.

Deepening the digital journey
In South Africa, ‘bricks-and-mortar’ retailers are still very much the predominant force in the market. While many local retailers have made concerted eCommerce efforts to serve customers online, there hasn’t generally been great orchestration between their physical and digital presences.

Platform business thinking represents a deepening of this digital journey – where it isn’t simply about taking the old linear model of retailing and ‘porting’ it into a digital space. Instead, retailers need to think differently about how they interact with their ecosystem.

From a technology vantage point, this requires that they ultimately move away from the traditional approach of building high-cost monolithic systems, in favour of more flexible architectures and interfaces that can adapt to ever-changing business and customer needs.

In our example, this means that schools have an easy way of on-boarding themselves with the retailer and creating their line-up of required clothes, stationery and books. This would trigger automatic engagements between the retailer and the relevant wholesalers, to ensure that the necessary stock is ordered.

With this in place, the retailer can automatically provide such a ‘pre-packaged’ offering to parents – saving them hours of hassles and gaining a key advantage over competitors that don’t have such advanced integrations into the (circular) value chain.


Since the inception of T-Systems in South Africa in 1997, the company has cemented its position as one of the most successful T-Systems companies outside of Europe. A leading ICT outsourcing service provider locally, T-Systems offers end-to-end ICT solutions in both the ICT Operations and Systems Integration markets. Their extensive portfolio of services covers the vertical, horizontal, IT and TC space. T-Systems South Africa’s head office is located in Midrand with another major office in Cape Town, and 20 further representative offices in locations throughout southern Africa.

Easter: more cash, more crime

Easter: more cash, more crime

Last year Easter, at least six shopping malls were robbed in Durban alone, and that goes without mentioning the spate of cash in transit heists and retail armed robberies that occurred over the same period. What can South Africa expect over this upcoming Easter period?

Richard Phillips, joint CEO of Cash Connect

“March 2017 leading up to Easter, was the worst month for armed robberies in 2017,” says Richard Phillips, joint CEO of Cash Connect. “Given the unprecedented increase in cash related robbery over the past 12 months we expect that the month of March will most likely see more cash and more cash crime.”

As consumers get ready to enjoy the Easter holidays, so do criminals. Despite the availability of electronic transacting options, consumers still choose cash as their preferred means of payment with close on 84% of all transactions still conducted with cash.

Highly organised and audacious criminals are aware of this. They also know that around 72% of retailers deal with their cash takings in a traditionally manual way. These retailers present easy and lucrative targets to criminals who have sophisticated resources at their disposal and are often fully informed of what goes in inside their targets.

Phillips stresses that the law enforcement, crime intelligence and criminal justice community has failed to respond adequately to this “economic warfare”. The inability to contain these organised gangs threatens the very core of our cash economy and all who depend on it.

The Cash Connect bulk deposit ATM (BDA) is a revolutionary and secure cash counting and verification alternative for retail distribution centres which is four to six times faster than a manual process

As a result, the cash economy is increasingly under attack. Conservatively speaking, the cash-in-transit industry suffered at least 256 armed robbery attacks in 2016, and 367 in 2017.

Similarly, there was a total increase of 10.3% from 2016 to 2017 in shopping centre incidents and while there was a marginal decrease in day time armed robberies against high street retailers, late night armed robberies rose by over 30%.

As the leader in automated cash management solutions, Cash Connect’s robust cash vault technology has proven to be the most effective deterrent in the retail market. The reality however is that many retail businesses still trade with large volumes of cash on site and to add to their vulnerability they lack any form of robust cash device to protect their cash.

Although Phillips believes that an automated cash management and payments platform is an essential element of any modern successful retail business, he says that business owners who do have manual cash handling processes are not without options. Security professionals identify several steps retail owners can take to safeguard their businesses this Easter season.

The bulk deposit ATM makes self-service deposits a breeze for depositors, drivers, cashiers and other users. The machine can count up to 800 notes and 800 coins per minute.

Smart and safe cash handling
Make use of electronic transfers to avoid paying wages in cash to your staff.
Avoid broadcasting when cash will manually be taken to the bank for deposit.
Alternate the days and times on which you deposit cash.
Do not openly display the money you are depositing while you are standing at an ATM or in a bank queue.
Avoid carrying money bags or briefcases when approaching an ATM or when standing in a bank queue.
Alternate between bank branches or ATMs so your banking pattern is not easily recognisable.
When your cash is being collected, consider closing shop for a few minutes before and during cash-in-transit collections. Alternatively, isolate and close the cash office area during the collection time.
Assist the cash-in-transit collection team by being prepared. This keeps the collection service time window short, sharp and safe.
Take the time to investigate converting to an automated cash management service and take away all the risk inherent in the above and realise meaningful savings and efficiencies.

Research has shown that a staggering 90% of attacks on businesses are carried out with information gleaned from employees or contractors. “Stores using our cash vaults were attacked far less than any other despite an over 30% increase in attacks against the industry in the past year,” says Phillips. “The fact that more than 87% of these attacks against our customers were unsuccessful, clearly demonstrates the success of our strategy to deter, deflect, and defend.”

Is your Centre waterproof?

Is your Centre waterproof?

Watertight solutions for your Centre

Effective waterproofing of retail environments is an essential aspect of retaining consumer traffic in your shopping centre. This is not rocket science.

Customers visiting your Centre neither expect to, nor enjoy, side-stepping puddles and dripping ceilings, anywhere, from the basement parking right through to the shopping malls.

In most instances waterproofing of roofs, ceilings and basements is incorporated into the construction phase. In other instances older buildings may require retro attention and solution. Either way it is essential that this crucial aspect of your retail property is dealt with by a professional company with the necessary skills, track record and product technology.

Shopping and Retail SA visited such a company recently and gained significant insight into exactly how waterproofing should be performed – for lasting results. This is Sanika, a leader in the field of waterproofing of retail and commercial property.

The Sanika team is a leader in the field of waterproofing of retail, commercial property and mining: Colte Smit, Sandor Dowling, Lynda Smit, Tanika McColgan and Paul Smit (founder of the business

Sanika is an established business founded some 28 years ago on the East Rand by roofing specialist Paul Smit. Paul’s partners, Lynda, Colte, Sandor and Tanika have steadily built the business to the high level of scope and capability it presents today, at an unparalleled and effective range of products and services.

“Sanika offers a full range of waterproofing solutions,” explains Sandor Smit, Sanika’s marketing manager. “From our own specialised waterproofing systems to traditional and conventional systems such as torch-on. However we are probably best known for our Kryton Krystol waterproofing system, Emseal expansion jointing and 10 year maintenance free boarded system.

Kryton is a cementitious concrete waterproofing product which is added to concrete, rendering it waterproof. Kryton has been used around the world for over 45 years.

Kryton – How it works
If water penetrates into concrete it attacks the rebar causing corrosion and rust. It then swells and pops the concrete, causing spalling.

The main objective of the Kryton crystalline product is to grow into concrete, in a reactive process, in the presence of moisture, firstly around the rebar – thus protecting it from corrosion.

Kryton combines chemically with water and unhydrated portland to form millions of needle-shaped crystals which grow in all directions to fill any capillary in the concrete, thus blocking the passage of water. This makes Kryton Crystalline Technology the only permanent leak repair system for concrete.

“Kryton Krystol technology actually waterproofs from the negative side of a wall, ceiling or floor, from the bottom up. – as long as it’s concrete,” continues Sandor.

Sanika’s unique Kryton waterproofing can withstand hydrostatic pressure of 140 meters of head (14 bar) of negative pressure. No other product can achieve this. “The beauty is that Kryton can be used as an admixture to the concrete during new construction, or it can be applied as a retrofit solution,” said Sandor.

“This makes it possible to fix and rejuvenate underground car parks and basements of shopping centres and office blocks from the inside – because it is often not possible to get to the ‘positive’ side where the waterproofing needs to be done due to extensive and invasive excavations of the paving, shrubbery or the presence of another building.”

The proof of the pudding
The application of Sanika’s Kryton solution to waterproofing is evident when one realises the extent of its use in shopping centres and commercial buildings across Southern Africa.

Blue chip property owners specify Kryton on their projects – and have done so for years, including the likes of Investec, JHI, Broll, Spar, Growthpoint, Accelerate, Liberty Properties – across projects such as Eastgate, Cresta, East Rand Mall and many more.

• Permanently repaired for the life of the concrete
• Can repair from the positive or negative side
• Superior bonding
• High compressive strength
• Safe for contact with potable water
• Self-healing
• Can be painted after curing
• Fast and easy to use
• Approved applicators for piece of mind
• Increased durability
• Reduces further maintenance & lowers repair
• Contains Krystol technology
• Can withstand high hydrostatic pressure.

Traditional waterproofing solutions – no problem
In addition to the Kryton technology, Sanika also offers traditional waterproofing solutions for roofing, such as “torch-on” and has also developed and perfected its own Insulative Boarded Waterproofing system.

Insulative Boarded Waterproofing -BEFORE

Insulative Boarded Waterproofing – AFTER

“This system is designed for use on standard IBR or Klip-Lok roofing,” Sandor goes on to say. “ The process resembles a cladding board system, in that we retrofit special polyurethane fillets on top of the IBR or Klip-Lok system – which may even be badly rusted or corroded, followed by a polystyrenefibre cement board which is then completely sealed with a mineral maintenance free “torch-on” waterproof coating.”

Most of M-Net’s roofs throughout both the Randburg and Centurion campuses were retrofitted with this system, not only rejuvenating the existing roofing, but enhancing it with its inherent insulation and acoustic damping properties.

In addition, box gutters can often retain water if blocked, thus causing corrosion and water ingress. These too can be retrofitted with a Sanika seamless waterproofing system as has recently been done at Cresta Shopping Centre.

Sanika’s confidence in its waterproofing system is apparent and proven through the 10 year warranty that comes with each installation.

Quality is the hallmark of all Sanika projects

All waterproofing projects undertaken by Sanika are done as complete professional contracts “from top to bottom”. The company does not entertain any patchwork or “quick fix” work.

Sanika is first and foremost an applicator and installer of its own products and solutions, and then a distributor of its product range through various retail outlets across the country.
The company employs and trains its own specialist teams who are operative nationwide. All training is very stringent and approved to the high standards of Sanika and Kryton, Canada.

+27 (0)11 425 3061 / /

Profitable waste management: a close collaboration between client and service provider

February 26 2018

Profitable waste management: a close collaboration between client and service provider

Shopping centres, restaurants and retailers have a number of choices when it comes to waste management. In making the correct choice it is important to understand the true value of waste. In February Shopping & Retail SA discussed the details of waste management options in the retail sector with Bertie Lourens, CEO of WastePlan – one of the largest companies of its kind in South Africa and a respected leader in the field.

Bertie Lourens, CEO of WastePlan

“Effective waste management is a close collaboration between the client and the service provider,” said Lourens. “Such an understanding ensures that both parties are committed to proper waste management principles (waste reduction) and that both benefit financially as their collaboration starts paying off.

“Out with the old” – Waste management reinvented
The model of the past has been one of arms-length relationship between client and service provider. This approach does not support the new objectives of cost saving, revenue growth, sustainable reporting and preserving of resources.” This new model focusses on the objective of waste reduction and both parties benefiting from achieving this reduction.

The non-viable option is attempting a waste management programme through companies that:
a) merely transport and dump waste; or
b) place staff on the customer’s premises and outsource the removal of waste – incurring higher costs in the process.

In both instances waste reduction is not incorporated, nor is there any financial reward for recycling more.

“It is imperative to choose a company that has waste reduction at the core of its business model,” continues Lourens. “Reducing and recycling waste is the primary objective. The more WastePlan recycles the more rebates our clients get back each month. The business relationship is a partnership where both parties win financially through the reduction of waste volumes.”

Lourens points out that roughly two thirds of all waste has significant value. It follows therefore that the cost of separating waste at the source for subsequent recycling is considerably less than simply transporting it away. “This is where our clients participate actively,” explains Lourens. “Instead of sending waste to landfill it is sorted – ideally on-site – and recycled as much as possible. WastePlan separates waste on-site (at the point of generation) at shopping centres into two categories: wet and dry. Dry waste is then further sorted on site and then transported to WastePlan facilities– of which there are six around the country, for final sorting and compression and sold all over the world. Only the “wet” waste, mostly food waste, is composted for landfilled.”

What others consider rubbish is split up into various waste streams, such as Plastics, Cans, Glass and different types and grades of Paper and Cardboard. Some of these waste streams are then sent off to producers, where they either start a new life cycle as a bottle or paper or are used as raw material to create new products like roof tiles or building bricks.

“Choose a company that has waste reduction at the core of its business.”

Other so-called “wet” waste streams, such as food waste or organic waste, are sent to worm farms, fly farms or similar installations where they are converted to fertilised soil or liquid fertiliser. Garden waste can be turned into compost, and any other non-recyclable material can be used to make biofuel.

By implementing the above waste reduction processes, a tremendous savings on landfill space and raw materials is achieved, as well as reduction of green house gasses. Throughout this process the customer actively monitors activity through an online WastePlan app, and measure rebates received through the recycling process, resulting not only in a financial win-win method of waste management and reduction – but also peace-of-mind in the knowledge that waste is processed and recycled in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner.

Case studies
Amongst its blue chip clients in the commercial and retail sectors, WastePlan has a number of shining examples of effective waste management in place in shopping centres.

One such example is Lakeside Mall (see graph below). Here WastePlan has a sorting and compacting plant installed on-site, enabling efficient pre-sorting and compression of paper and plastic waste prior to shipment to its Germiston recycling factory. “Our own staff, plant and vehicles are operative at this site,” says Lourens. “And the customer has no third party concerns or related costs. In addition he enjoys measurable rebates received through resale of the recycled product.”

In such scenarios WastePlan trains kitchen staff in the art of sorting – and incentivises the Centre Management through rebates received on the recycled waste at the source. “We work in close collaboration with the client/ tenant in training their staff in the sorting techniques for wet and dry waste within their process areas. The benefit of this arrangement is efficiency and cost-effective waste separation, compression and packaging – ready for removal to the WastePlan factory.

Remember that better compression saves transport costs and increases the rebate value to the client,” continues Lourens.

Recycling must ideally comprise a 2-bin system
The WastePlan solution revolves around instilling a culture of recycling within the client’s environment, embracing the client as an important and integral part of the process.

Online reporting
WastePlan measures each client’s waste streams on a daily basis. This data is fed into the company’s sophisticated web-based reporting mechanism. Each client has full access to this information through a secure login on desktop or mobile App – from anywhere in the world.

For each kilogram of waste that we remove from the waste stream, you will see a double benefit: a reduction in landfill cost as well as income from the recycled product.


It’s all about awareness
As this story was about to go to print the following new and very interesting data on two malls became available from WastePlan:

1) These malls have achieved a constant reduction in total waste generated. This is much more positive than what it seems, says Bertie Lourens.
We have seen a similar trend in Cape Town amongst the 100 000 homes we collect recycling from. Over the eight years we have serviced these homes we have noted a downward trend in the total waste that is generated by them. In contrast the homes that don’t have a residential recycling collection service either continue generating the same amount of total waste, or it increases over time. This is due to an increase in awareness. Once you start thinking about what happens to your waste, you generally waste less.
It could be that the same phenomenon occurred in these malls and that is a very good upside if the malls choose the correct partner.
This is a very positive story, because as you reduce your wastage , your overall costs come down (or at worst stays the same).

2) At Lakeside Mall we now see a slow narrowing of the gap between the red line (waste to landfill) and the green line (waste recycled). This indicates that the percentage of waste recycled is increasing over time.

Future technologies
Looking to the future, WastePlan is always abreast of new developments and cutting edge technologies in the field of waste management.
Such technologies include:
• An on-site “digester” which breaks down food, resulting in biogas that is used for electricity generation and heat generation – and “digestate” which is then dried for use as compost or soil enhancer.
• “Fly farming”: this is a new and proven technology in which fly larva are harvested to produce a meal which is high in protein for use as animal feed.
• “Worm farms”: these are the same worms many householders use to break down vegetable matter, but on a far larger scale. Although the worms are very fussy eaters they do multiply well and the excrement is of high value.


Arrange a FREE WASTE AUDIT for your Centre now.
Call WastePlan on 086 111 6699 or mail

WastePlan will conduct a waste audit free of charge, apply its formulae to your current waste stream and will propose a service to manage your waste effectively.


Future technologies
Looking to the future, WastePlan is always abreast of new developments and cutting edge technologies in the field of waste management.

Such technologies include:

An on-site “digester” which breaks down food, resulting in biogas that is used for electricity generation and heat generation and “digestate” which is then dried for use as compost or soil enhancer.
“Fly farming”: this is a new and proven technology in which fly larva are harvested to produce a meal which is high in protein for use as animal feed.
“Worm farms”: these are the same worms many householders use to break down vegetable matter, but on a far larger scale. Although the worms are very fussy eaters they do multiply well and the excrement is of high value.


WastePlan is one of the largest companies of its kind in South Africa. The company believes in the value of relationships and strives to promote the same idea of close collaboration in its relationships with its clients, staff, service providers and recyclers.
WastePlan is partially owned by a Non Profit Company that uses its resources to change education amongst the poor in South Africa. It is also managed in an ethically and environmentally responsible manner and promotes its core values internally and externally.

“Changing the way we think about waste” is WastePlan’s motto, which has been in place since 2004.

WastePlan specialises in managing waste on-site in such a manner that it will save you money and reduce the waste you send to landfill.

WastePlan has operational presence in the following cities:
Cape Town
Port Elizabeth
East London

Independent stores, the heartbeat of rural retail

Rivesh Sudhama, regional manager of bonsella® in KZN

The Golden Sun store in Tongaat

Independent stores, the heartbeat of rural retail

In February Shopping & Retail SA visited KwaZulu-Natal to explore the vibrant independent retail sector. Although myriad independent stores are spread out all around the country, KZN is recognised as the national pulse of independently owned retail outlets.

Rivesh Sudhama, regional manager of the specialist loyalty group in this sector, bonsella®, met us at King Shaka airport to chaperone us through a range of independent stores from Tongaat, to Hammarsdale and Pietermaritzburg.

Our first stop was the Golden Sun store in Tongaat, a relatively young family owned store established some fifteen years ago by Yashim. This no-frills operation is functional in its design and layout, is very clean and very efficiently run. Golden Sun boasts 10 tills and processes a staggering 10 000 transactions per day.

“Loyalty is key for these shops,” explained Rivesh. “Most if not all customers are from the local community and surrounding district, and will visit the store two to three times per week, purchasing smaller baskets more often as they are mostly weekly paid. And pricing in these stores is also highly competitive,” continued Rivesh.

In this and other regions, bonsella® have established a strong presence with their unique and highly successful loyalty rewards programme. Each independent store has one or more smartly dressed and well-presented bonsella® consultants on the floor, complete with tablet and bonsella® app. By interviewing customers on an ongoing basis and feeding live data into the app, bonsella® are able to offer FMCG brand managers unprecedented near-live and accurate research data. The primary benefit for shoppers is to receive a “bonsella” (meaning gift) in-store, either through being sent instant airtime at the till-point for buying bonsella® promotional items, or various other in-store competitions and give-aways. FMCG brands benefit directly from this service by being able to reward and communicate with these shoppers directly.

Having integrated into more than 20 Point-of-sale (POS) systems across the country, the airtime is received in real time at the till, much to customers’ delight, with no more more than a swipe of the bonsella® card required.

“It’s all about activity,” explains Rivesh, who then outlined the bigger promotions, where, for example, a store or brand may make a microwave available which through the “bonsella® Universe” enables a customer to “swipe-and-win” – standing a chance to win the microwave. When these competitions are linked to products in-store, and combined with most of the familiar favourite brands being on promotion, this draws significant interest and a high level of customer participation.

Hammarsdale PowerTrade Cash and Carry shuttle ferries customers continuously from the local taxi rank to the store

On then to Hammarsdale where Rivesh introduces us to the Hammarsdale PowerTrade Cash and Carry store. This store too impresses with its functionality and clear efficiency, and is unique in that it houses both a wholesale and retail section under one roof, enabling spaza-shop owners to purchase their bulk supplies as well as catering for its regular community. Innovation abounds and is epitomised here by the store’s brightly coloured Mercedes Sprinter shuttle, which ferries customers continuously from the local taxi rank to the store.

In Pietermaritzburg Rivesh guides us to a local eatery where we chat about retail over our pleasantly hot bunny-chow – delicious – before heading off to the Save Group corporate head office to meet with the chief buyer, Suleman Parak.

The Save Group is renowned for its eight Save Hyperstores stores in KZN which services customers across the full range of LSM (Living Standards Measure) demographics. Save’s largest store is its massive main store in Pietermaritzburg which has “everything under one roof”, 54 tills and is also the largest appliance retailer in the Midlands. All stores are serviced by Save’s own distribution centre

Save’s largest store is its massive main store in Pietermaritzburg

Suleman notes that bonsella® has been rolled out in most of the Save stores and will reach its full potential in the main store within the next two months as system software integration completes. He notes too that bonsella® is very well received by Save customers.

Shopping & Retail SA will continue to explore the many facets of independent stores for you, our readers, unlocking opportunities for store owners and FMCG brand managers alike, and will share the many innovative trading solutions emanating from this sector.

Click here to find out more about bonsella

South African retail spending grew 3.8 percent this festive season

South African retail spending grew 3.8 percent this festive season

Mastercard SpendingPulse showed a significant increase in retail spending in December 2017 as consumers benefited from a stronger Rand and lower inflation.

Early ‘Black Friday’ shoppers crowd the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, November 26, 2015. The mall opened early for people wanting to get some holiday shopping sale deals.

Mastercard SpendingPulse reports that South African consumer spending showed a healthy improvement over the festive season, with retail sales volumes rising 3.8 percent year-on-year after removing the effects of inflation. This marks the strongest monthly performance for South African retail spending since May 2013.

The latest SpendingPulse South Africa report details holiday shopping in December 2017 and covers retail sales across all payment types, including cash and cheques.

Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President Market Insights for Mastercard

Including the effects of inflation, retail sales for December 2017 grew 7.5 percent year-on-year. Inflation contributed just 3.7 percentage points to overall sales growth, which marks a significant deceleration in price inflation, bringing consumers much needed relief over the holiday season.

“The spike in consumer spending during the holiday season took retail sales to new highs,” says Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President Market Insights for Mastercard. “Sturdier GDP growth, a lower inflation outlook and the stronger Rand, which in turn drove down import prices – all benefited consumers over the holidays.”

Key findings of the Mastercard SpendingPulse South Africa December 2017 include:
Pharmaceuticals, Medical Goods, Cosmetics and Toiletry sales climbed six percent year-on-year, after adjusting for inflation, showing the strongest growth the sector has seen in a year thanks to lower import prices.
Price inflation in clothing and footwear fell to its lowest since 2012, while food and beverage prices rose at the slowest rate since October 2015.
The General Dealer sector – which includes food and other day-to-day essentials – grew a mere 0.9 percent year-on-year when the effects of inflation are excluded. Though growth remained slow in this sector, this was the first December period since 2013 to see positive growth in general dealer sales volume.

“The price index for General Dealer sales continued to rise at a quicker pace than total retail sales, largely due to faster growth in food prices in the wake of an enduring drought,” says Quinlan. “Consumers hit by high Christmas food prices cut back on meat purchases and were less inclined to splurge on discretionary goods, instead searching for deals and promotions.”

Mastercard’s SpendingPulse reports are released monthly to subscribers ahead of other sources, providing timely, accurate, and unbiased insight into the South African economy. The report also includes an overall retail sales and price index to illustrate whether spending growth is being driven by increased shopping, inflation or increased promotions.

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and cheque. SpendingPulse™ reports and content, including estimated forecasts of spending trends do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data. SpendingPulse is provided by Mastercard Advisors, the professional services arm of Mastercard.


Revolutionary bulk cash depositor for retail distribution centres unveiled

Pierre Liebenberg, General Manager – Manufacturing and Production at Cash Connect

Revolutionary bulk cash depositor for retail distribution centres unveiled

South Africa’s leading provider of secure cash management and payment solutions, Cash Connect, has launched a new self-service bulk deposit acceptor device, or ATM, for retail distribution centres.

This automated cash handling solution allows bulk note and coin deposits to be processed quickly and easily, which cuts down on the time depositors spend in service queues, and enables a speedy reconciliation and bank deposit process for cashiers.

The Cash Connect bulk deposit ATM (BDA) is a revolutionary and secure cash counting and verification alternative for retail distribution centres which is four to six times faster than a manual process

Imagine a scenario where dozens of trucks leave a depot in the morning to deliver COD consumer goods like cold drinks, milk or fresh produce to retailers across the province. During the day, the trucks return carrying large volumes of cash. Drivers, having removed the cash from an on-board drop-safe, traditionally spend several hours in the depot’s cash centre, counting the cash and filling out deposit slips and thereafter waiting in a queue to hand over the cash to the cashiers. Only once the deposit is verified by the cash centre, can the driver get back on the road again.

The bulk deposit ATM (BDA) provides an automated alternative which has been proven to be four to six times faster than a manual counting and verification process. In addition, the need for filling out a manual bank deposit slip is negated, further improving process efficiency and saving time.

The bulk deposit ATM (BDA) not only eliminates much of the hassle associated with traditional cash handling methods, it also enhances existing safety and security measures and cuts down on cash shrinkage. The BDA is guaranteed to decrease bank fees associated with cash processing, whilst increasing cash flow with same-day settlements, resulting from increased efficiencies.

The bulk deposit ATM makes self-service deposits a breeze for depositors, drivers, cashiers and other users. The machine can count up to 800 notes and 800 coins per minute.

Manual banking generally provides value on the second or even third day from the deposit. Cash Connect offers value in the client’s bank account on the same day. The days outstanding, cost of funds saving goes to the bottom line, and you will no longer lose out on any interest on your funds from the time you make the deposit to the time the value reflects in your account.

“Automated cash management eliminates the need for manual paperwork and reconciliation, and drastically reduces incidences of human error,” says Richard Phillips, joint CEO of Cash Connect Management Solutions.

At the core of the Cash Connect BDA is the technology for which the company is so widely trusted throughout the commercial and retail industry: a cash vault built to SABS Category 4 standards, capable of withstanding most determined attacks.

“Another value-adding feature of the BDA is the secure biometric identification system that reinforces accountability and eliminates cash shrinkage. Retailers’ cash is guaranteed through a system that identifies people and assigns accountability based on fingerprints,” says Pierre Liebenberg, General Manager for Solutions Development & Manufacturing of Cash Connect Management Solutions.

The BDA’s through-the-wall configuration offers a minimally invasive footprint that makes efficient use of available space in cash office. Its 17-inch touch screen makes self-service deposits a breeze for depositors, drivers, cashiers and other users. The machine can count up to 800 notes and 800 coins per minute, resulting in drivers spending more time on the road focusing on deliveries.

Cash Connect backs up its technology with on-site training, 24/7 call centre support, on-site technical assistance, and access to an online portal where customers can view their deposits, recons and transaction history, and download financial reports.

“With the BDA, Cash Connect enhances its reputation as a key enabler of South African business,” says Phillips. “We believe that retailers deserve to trade in a safe and secure environment, with increased efficiency and reduced costs that stimulate growth and prosperity. In short, we help take businesses from a place of safety to a place of growth with innovations like the BDA. It’s like we put the bank in your business.”


The extraordinary phenomenon of Retail Art

The extraordinary phenomenon of Retail Art

The Visualiz Khorr team, masters of retail art, in action

Street artists “graffiti” an entire parking garage of a new luxury sea point shopping centre

In what is a first for a Cape Town retail centre, street art is being incorporated as a dominant feature in the ARTEM galleria in Sea Point, which is currently undergoing extensive renovations – with completion expected in February 2018.

The entire parking area for the ultra-luxurious centre, which is situated on Sea Point’s Main Road, will become a giant canvas, featuring the edgy designs of a young group of street artists from Pretoria who have been commissioned to turn the blank walls into an urban gallery.

Lethlogonolo Mathabe, Sam Shaba, Tebogo Qhingana and Patrick Rulore are four of the members of this dynamic street art crew, working under the leadership of the group founder Khutjo Tsebe. They have named their group “Visualiz Khorr” and explain that before this project came along, they had been working hard at finding ways in which to collaborate as individual artists on a shared project.

“Eugenia Chapman Campbell called us and told us to come to Cape Town. We had never been on a plane before let alone in Cape Town – so we could hardly believe it until we boarded our flights.”

Ultra-luxurious meets street art
The new ARTEM galleria, which was formerly the Adelphi Centre, will house a prestigious curated Art Gallery – entitled ARTEM Gallery – when completed. Eugenia Chapman Campbell, the curator of the new gallery, spotted the work of Visualiz Khorr on social media and approached them about using the walls of the ARTEM parking garage as a showcase for their work.

“It was an amazing experience. We posted some of our portfolio work on Facebook and it was picked up by Eugenia Chapman Campbell who called us and told us to come to Cape Town. We had never been on a plane before let alone in Cape Town – so we could hardly believe it until we boarded our flights,” says Visualiz Khorr founder, Khutjo Tsebe.

The idea of edgy street art combining with an ultra-luxurious retail experience may seem to be a strange relationship at first, but Ahsan Darvesh, President of Da’Realty who own ARTEM, explains that art and visual beauty will be woven into the entire centre once complete, with art pieces being exhibited throughout the building in the public spaces and that the idea is to also help promote the work of emerging artists in this beautiful new galleria.

Showcasing up-and-coming artists
Ahsan, who is passionate about art in all its forms, says that whilst street art as a movement in Africa is in its infancy compared to many overseas cities, it is definitely something to watch. Ahsan explains that he feels strongly about nurturing this group of young up-and-coming artists who have chosen street art as their artistic spring board based on their circumstances and means.

“Street art is a means of artistic expression that brings vibrancy, colour and meaning into drab and dull concrete city landscapes. With a variety of themes and ideas, from social and political awareness to plain visual poetry, this art form continues to gain momentum and we are extremely pleased to have Visualiz Khorr transforming the walls of ARTEM’s parking area.”

The new ARTEM galleria, which was formerly the Adelphi Centre, will house a prestigious curated Art Gallery

The completed ARTEM centre will feature black and white marble throughout, beautiful Italian lighting, hand crafted brass balustrades, a lobby entrance with a door man, a hand-crafted gold mosaic logo and valet parking – just a few examples of what can be expected from this exciting new galleria. A combination of soft awnings and black metal awnings running along the entire ARTEM street front will transform the strip into a blend of Rodeo Drive meets the Champs Elysees – in the heart of Cape Town.

“Da’Realty is hosting Visualiz Khorr in Cape Town while they complete the work on the ARTEM parking area and we are excited to see the end product. ARTEM, once complete, will offer the public an upmarket and exciting artistic retail experience,” concludes Ahsan.

Da’Realty established its presence in the Western Cape three years ago and is developing luxurious bespoke buildings which offer living and retail spaces that are works of art.

The company’s goal is to create properties which redefine the concept of opulent limited edition living in South Africa. Da’Realty will never develop more than one building within a given suburb or area of the Western Cape and twill only roll out projects as and when the right properties present themselves.

Current properties under development by Da’Realty include Aurum, previously the Ambassador Hotel; Azalea, luxury residential hanging garden villas in Clifton; and Artem, previously the Adelphi Centre in Sea Point.

Visualiz Khorr started when founder Khutjo Tsebe decided to form a collective of “like-minded” individuals who could collaborate to add value to each other and the greater art community.

“There is an African proverb that says ‘If you want to run, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’,” says Tsebe. “It was with this in mind that I decided to form an art collective with common goals and united in our passion for art.”

What does the future hold?
Visualiz Khorr are not just a group of visual artists, amongst them they possess a range of talents touching on music, fashion, photography, film-making, poetry and so much more. The group plans to ultimately represent all genres and be a home for all to create.

Customer experience – the new differentiator

Customer experience – the new differentiator

With headlines dominated by a challenging economic climate, differentiating your business from the competition is more important than ever.

This is according to Veronique Filip, Customer Advisory and Experience Lead at Deloitte, who says there’s a growing realisation among business leaders that the most effective way to stand out from the crowd is by offering superlative customer experience.

Veronique Filip, Customer Advisory and Experience Lead at Deloitte

Leading by differentiation, says Filip, is when a company delivers more unique value, and in an age of instant digital communication and empowered customers, the notion of value has evolved way beyond product and services.

“For these new consumers, the value is in having accurate information in the format they prefer, in addition to buying exactly what they want, when they want it and how they want it – all while interacting with the company at their convenience.”

Filip says numerous global studies have indicated a strong correlation between customer experience and higher share of wallet and revenue, and point to customer experience fast becoming the primary point of brand differentiation, replacing the established norms of product and price.

She adds that customer experience is particularly important to preventing churn in emerging markets, and a good customer experience can help South African companies compete globally.

These findings are reflected in Deloitte’s own recent research in the South African financial services sector, which offers an illuminating insight into customers’ pain points as well as their expectations.

Comments from customers reveal that they often feel deeply hurt by a perceived lack of loyalty, reciprocity, or sensitivity from their banks. “My bank was not there to help me when my debit orders were rejected – they made me feel intimidated, like I owed them and I was the only person this had ever happened to,” said one customer – who later switched banks.

Other comments reveal that problems dealing with call centres, unhelpful and incompetent staff, discovering hidden bank charges and other issues can force customers to leave their bank. Even if a specific interaction does not cause churn, it may still result in a customer speaking negatively about their bank: “I thought about leaving, but I don’t want to sit at a branch again. You know how if you’re in an abusive relationship you get comfortable? I feel like that,” said one customer.

Positive experiences, on the other hand, often result in referrals. Friends’ and family members’ experiences are customers’ most valued sources of information about where to open a bank account or take out an insurance policy. A typical comment was “I picked my insurance company because one of my friends claimed from them twice and said it was seamless.”

Deloitte’s research also found that people are willing to buy more products if they have a good experience. One customer commented, “If they offered good service, I wouldn’t mind having all my products with one provider: it’s easier”.

These findings point to the business benefits of an effectively implemented customer experience strategy. Filip notes, “A deep understanding of customers’ pain points and their expectations of a company offers the promise of increasing revenue through churn reduction, additional purchases, word of mouth recommendations and acquisition of new customers.”

Addressing customer pain points, once they’ve been identified, need not be a costly or complicated exercise, says Filip. “Sometimes it’s as simple as managing a customer’s expectation: for example, informing them that it will take two days for them to learn whether their loan has been approved.” An important point to remember is that when wanting to improve your customer experience, companies should focus on making the right changes rather than trying to improve everything.

The right customer experience measurement system can help companies prioritise changes, as well as measure progress and benchmark against competitors. However, it can be difficult to find an indicator that can deliver on all of these areas.

Filip says that while many of Deloitte’s clients were aware of the growing importance of customer experience, they complained about a lack of effective measurement systems to aid them in implementing a customer experience strategy. Common complaints included frustration about a lack of granularity, actionability, local relevance and correlation to business results.

This gap in the market led Deloitte to develop the Deloitte eXperience Index (DXi), which consists of an industry-wide barometer, a diagnostic of root causes of customer experience issues, and a framework for ongoing measurement.

“DXi is an overarching indicator which also encompasses the correct level of granularity, offering insights per touch point, channel and perception metric. In addition, it offers insights per customer segment. It will provide companies with competitive and customizable results which can be linked to outcome metrics such as revenue.”