G4S open day expo wows the market

G4S open day expo wows the market

In March Shopping & Retail SA attended a special open day expo staged by G4S Electronic Specialised Solutions at its offices in Centurion, Gauteng.

Tim Timmins, Business Development Director, G4S Electronic Specialised Solutions

The event was conceptualised by the company’s Business Development Director, Tim Timmins, to showcase the full range of systems and integration solutions it makes use through its technology partners. “This will become a regular event,” explained Timmins. “Through the hands-on displays and product exhibition, our customers and potential customers can appreciate at first-hand the full scope of our significant system integration capabilities, and at the same time meet and network with the various specialists in these fields.”

Timmins elaborated to say that each G4S open day will host different vendors to provide visitors with a broader overview of what the company can do for them. And while the company is part of the larger G4S group, Timmins says it runs independently and is not tied into other divisions.

G4S Electronic Specialised Solutions is presently overseeing a variety of projects ranging in value from R1 million to R400 million.

Companies with stands at the open day included a variety of well-known as well as a diverse range of security operations, including:

-Axis Communications: video surveillance systems
-Access and Beyond
-Bosch Security
-Brigit Systems

The June 2017 issue of Shopping & Retail SA will feature an in-depth look at the full scope and capability of G4S Electronic Specialised Solutions and its partners.


G4S Electronic Specialised Solutions is a system integrator of security systems, protecting customers with various security requirements. G4S secures a range of facilities including shopping centres, malls, small standalone businesses such as restaurants and offices, schools, large multi-national organisations and even high security government facilities.

Black Friday: The key to retail success is ensuring a positive shopper experience across all relevant channels

Taj Elkhayat

Black Friday: The key to retail success is ensuring a positive shopper experience across all relevant channels

By Taj Elkhayat, Regional Vice President Middle East, Turkey and Africa for Riverbed Technology

In the build up to this year’s November 25 Black Friday – and the lesser known Cyber Monday – experts predicted that shoppers would spend double the amount they did in 2015. And they were right! In some instances (see news reports below) this year’s retail shopping bonanza exceeded 300 percent.

At the same time PwC forecast that online sales would account for 77 percent of spending, versus 17 percent in stores, meaning that competition for stores to attract and retain as many shoppers as possible will be all the more fierce.

However, in order to stand out, as customers’ expectations for optimal service continue to grow, it’s no longer enough to simply offer the best prices. The key to retail success is ensuring a positive shopper experience across all relevant channels.

For traditional brick and mortar stores, this means ensuring having the latest pricing database, staff have the latest training, and customers have the latest messaging about special offers. It also translates into being agile and flexible – for example, being able to react to local demand by quickly setting up fully outfitted “pop-up” stores just for the duration of the sale period.

Most important, it’s about guaranteeing shops remain open for business and are able to serve customers even if the network to the head-office or the Internet is down. In the cloud, staying ahead is about scaling up resources in order to support an increased demand from online shoppers, and being able to quickly update applications in order to correct problems, or add new features so that customers and retail staff receive those updates automatically, wherever they are.

This is why most retailers have turned to cloud technologies in order to improve employee productivity, increase time and cost savings and improve customer satisfaction. Today’s businesses are storing information in the cloud as well as on local systems – creating what are known as hybrid environments – with 93 percent of retailers using cloud-based enterprise apps at work today.

Just about every business operation is enabled and mediated by applications, so it is easy to see why 96 percent of retailers believe app performance plays such a relevant role in productivity. However, business applications do not always perform optimally. 62 percent of retailers say the poor performance of enterprise applications has negatively impacted their work on a weekly or more frequent basis. This can lead to retailers’ failure to meet customers’ demands for a reliable, time-effective experience. Slow apps present retailers with a number of pitfalls which can have serious repercussions for a company’s bottom line, including dissatisfied customers (36 percent), contract delays (35 percent), critical deadlines missed (35 per cent), and loss of clients or customers (29 percent).

The risk of application performance failure is particularly high with flash and anticipated online sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where retailers have been unprepared for the spike in website traffic from the increased volumes of shoppers visiting their sites. If a store doesn’t have the monitoring and diagnostics systems in place to detect where network issues lie, it can take much longer to resolve and have the website back online as normal, frustrating customers and employees alike.

To deliver superior application performance in today’s hybrid environments, retailers should consider using technology that provides end-to-end application visibility, optimisation and control, allowing them to quickly – and remotely – detect, analyse, and fix any network and application performance problems before they impact business revenue and customer experience.

In times where online shopping is the norm, companies cannot afford to lose customers over poor application performance. Only by optimising and monitoring the end-to-end performance of their applications and websites can retailers deliver the seamless service that shoppers expect – and ensure they make the most of the upward trend in sales.

Takealot’s website crashes on Black Friday

In a TMG Digital report by Roxanne Henderson, the newsline states that although the Takealot online shopping website went down in the Black Friday frenzy it still predicts its current sale will be the most successful in its history.

According to Henderson, although Takealot had planned for five times the usual traffic the site still experienced checkout problems as the payment gateway was affected by nationwide Black Friday pressure and slowing down checkouts.

In her report, Henderson notes that IT company Snapt says that site crashes such as Takealot’s‚ caused by high traffic volumes‚ can be avoided with proper IT infrastructure.

Takealot however, remains upbeat, as web traffic continued to grow throughout the day. Exceeding 300 percent of the usual traffic expected on a Friday in the festive season.

Mastercard’s gamification campaign

Mastercard’s gamification campaign

Digitata takes Mastercard’s digital payment message to mobile masses

Mastercard in collaboration with Digitata Insights, a subsidiary of Digitata, recently launched a gamification1 campaign to educate South Africans on the benefits of making safe, secure and fast payments with Masterpass, the global digital payment service from Mastercard.

The interactive game – “The Masterpass Race” – showed South African consumers the benefits of Masterpass across digital payments channels including airtime top-up, online purchases, bill payments and in-store payments. It also demonstrated the security features, convenience and ease of use people will find in Masterpass—including the fact that they can pay with a smart app on their smartphones and leave their physical wallets at home.

Gabriel Swanepoel

We at Mastercard are innovating faster than ever before in our efforts to make digital payments simpler, more secure, and more accessible,” says Gabriel Swanepoel, Product Development and Innovation, Mastercard. “To create widespread adoption of our Masterpass solution, we looked for a unique, fun and engaging platform to bring its benefits to life for consumers. Gamification was a perfect opportunity to educate consumers about how digital payments can improve their lives.”

To participate, subscribers had to dial a USSD2 short code. Players earned points for by answering questions relating to information supplied in the game about mobile and cashless payments and Masterpass, and completed actions such as downloading and using the Masterpass app. Accumulating points got players to the next level of the game and points could be converted into airtime.

Richard Walton

Richard Walton, acting CEO at Digitata Insights, says: “Gamification – the incorporation of game play into online marketing – is an extremely effective way to keep mobile users engaged, offering the ideal opportunity to educate them in an interactive manner. The fact that players could receive free airtime ensured continued engagement and made the game extremely popular.”

Digitata Insights developed the USSD-based gamification service using the company’s MeMe measurable mobile media platform. “Text-based USSD was the ideal channel as all mobile users are familiar with the *111# service. It is also a prolific channel because it is device and network agnostic, which means there is potential to deliver bespoke content to a huge market, all without the subscriber incurring any charges as no data is required.”

To ensure the broadest reach, Digitata Insights partnered with South Africa’s two largest network operators, gaining access to millions of potential customers. The results from the campaign were impressive: more than 398,595 people started the race and some 153,000 reached the finishing line by completing all 17 levels in the game.

Overall we feel that the Masterpass campaign was on par with some of the biggest USSD-based consumer engagement campaigns run globally,” says Walton. “And despite this form of mobile marketing being around for 15 years already, we’re not aware of any other campaigns that have been able to generate these numbers. We therefore feel that we’ve taken USSD-based marketing to the next level, and are now starting to realise the full potential that this form of mobile engagement has always held.”

1 Gamification – the incorporation of game play into online marketing

2 USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) is a Global System for Mobile(GSM) communication technology that is used to send text between a mobile phone and an application program in the network.

Digitata Insights is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digitata Limited, a privately-held multinational technology company founded in 2008 with a strong mobile telecommunications and revenue management background. Digitata Insights provides innovative mobile solutions that focus on mobile engagement mechanisms through gamification and other marketing strategies that create extended, emotional and valuable customer engagements with mobile subscribers via USSD-based media and gaming services. Services include the MeMe Mobile Premium Media Channel, an innovative premium media channel and targeted marketing solution that presents selected content and customised brand marketing messages on the mobile devices of subscribers based on certain demographic, location and other value criteria, and the USSD-based multiplayer, highly engaging Mobile Gaming Platform, Game Arcade.

Mastercard, www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry which operates the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, travelling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.

Virtual Reality, Chatbots to Dominate Brand Interactions by 2020

1280px-larry_ellison_ceo_of_oracle_corporation-970x646Virtual Reality, Chatbots to Dominate Brand Interactions by 2020

Johannesburg, 6 December 2016


Chantel Troskie, Customer Experience Account Manager at Oracle South Africa tells Shopping & Retail SA that more than three quarters of brands will deliver Customer Experience through VR and chatbots in the next four years. 
The relationship brands have with their customers is set to undergo a technological revolution causing the number of human-to-human interactions to fall significantly, according to new research released by Oracle today.

The Oracle report Can Virtual Experiences Replace Reality? polled 800 senior marketing and sales professionals across EMEA and revealed how the use of emerging technologies is set to surge by 2020.  Seventy-seven percent of brands expect to provide customer experiences through virtual reality in the next four years, while 79 percent expect to serve customers through chatbots.

chatbots-100687209-carousel-idgeHowever, despite this eagerness to embrace new technologies, many brands are still struggling to make use of the valuable customer and prospect data, with 56 percent not currently including social or CRM data in their customer analytics.

The changing customer dynamic
In South Africa, 77 percent of brands expect to be providing customer experiences through virtual reality and 79 percent will be serving customers through chatbots by 2020.

Most brands put this fundamental change in relationship down to the rise of social, digital and mobile platforms.

The research found that 43 percent of senior sales and marketing executives agree customers do more independent research before contacting them to make a sales enquiry, and 35 percent noted their customers preferred to make purchases or resolve a service issue without speaking directly with a member of the sales or customer service team.

VR and Chatbots set to surge
In response, brands are looking to implement innovative technologies that allow their customers to continue interacting with brands on their own terms.  In terms of upcoming technology investments, the research found:

77 percent of brands expect to be using VR for CX by 2020; 34 percent have already implemented the technology to some degree
79 percent of brands will be using chatbots for customer interactions by 2020; 30 percent have already implemented them
48 percent of brands have implemented automation technologies in sales, marketing and customer service, with another 38 percent planning to do so by 2020.

Data continues to pose a challenge
Despite the race to innovate, the reality is that many brands are still struggling to unify, organise and process the growing volumes of customer data they have coming into their business, making it difficult to truly understand and deliver a personalised experience for customers.

56 percent of brands don’t currently include social or CRM data in their customer analytics
48 percent agree smarter analysis of customer data will have the biggest impact on the experience they deliver to their customers
41 percent already collect a great deal of data from multiple sources, but are unable to extract customer insights from it

“For most organisations, the use of digital technologies has become the norm both inside and outside their walls. However, when it comes to VR there is a widespread perception that adoption will be slow due to high costs and because it will take some time before brands discover its relevant applications in their own business. Our research shows there is a strong appetite for VR, but it will be up to individual brands to tap into VR in a way that meets both their needs and those of their customers”, says Troskie.

New technology ensures retailers’ compliance with NCA and POPI

Marc Fletcher, head of marketing and sales at Intervate, a T-Systems company.

Marc Fletcher, head of marketing and sales at Intervate, a T-Systems company.

Multi-award winning, Microsoft Gold Certified partner, Intervate has extensive experience with South African retailers and the challenges they face when extending store credit to customers.

Applying the world-class Kofax Total Agility suite as underlying technology, Intervate, enables retailers to improve the quality of their credit scoring, enhance the account opening experience for the customer and ultimately ensure responsible lending.

In addition, by using this suite local retailers can now also ensure compliance with both the Affordability Amendment to National Credit Act (NCA), and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI).

Retailers are also able to securely expose the credit application process directly to customers – enabling them to complete applications from the convenience of their homes, or their smartphones.

NCA Affordability Amendment: Promulgated in March 2015, this new amendment is designed to prevent the use of forged documents such as bank statements, and deliberate under-estimation of household expenses by consumers. With South Africans becoming increasingly indebted, the amendment forces more stringent credit scoring requirements on lenders.

The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act, which is yet to come into effect, will govern the collection, storage, usage, sharing and destroying of an individual’s personal information.

Both pieces of legislation include severe penalties for non-compliance. If the NCA is contravened, credit licenses can be revoked, fines of up to 10% of annual turnover can be levied, plus the costs of associated reparations incurred. Violating the POPI Act could see organisations paying up to R10 million in fines, per incident.

“The NCA amendments have extremely positive intent: to ensure financial stability for individuals and the economy in general. However, many retailers are concerned with the increased burdens and risks,” notes Marc Fletcher, head of marketing and sales at Intervate, a T-Systems company.

“When we add the introduction of POPI to the mix, many retailers will have to make wholesale adjustments to their customer on-boarding processes. Our solution is designed to address both the NCA and POPI requirements in one fell swoop.”

The Kofax Total Agility Solution, delivered by Intervate, offers the following key benefits:

· Faster, more accurate credit application and credit scoring processes (compliant with the NCA)
· Conformance with information security requirements outlined in the POPI Act
· Higher quality debtors books with less impairments and write-offs
· Exposing credit application services to customers – via online forms and document uploads
· Integration with any back-end work-flow processing systems currently being used
· Full life-cycle management of the customer relationship

The solution is able to “learn” certain key indicators on, for instance, a bank statement.

So when assessing affordability, a direct debit for a medical aid premium would be automatically classified into a certain category, as would a repayment to a vehicle finance house, or the card-swipe for a purchase at a supermarket.

This auto-populates a credit scoring application form, ensuring that retailers get an accurate view of an individual’s monthly household expenses. If something about a particular document doesn’t match certain expectations, it would be funnelled into an exception queue – where the retailer’s staff can assess the document for validity.

“While the initial impetus behind adopting automated solutions may be regulatory compliance, we expect that retailers will very quickly start seeing the business benefits as well – including better quality credit, shorter queues for in-store applications, and enhanced customer experiences,” concludes Fletcher.