Retail sales figures in South Africa broke new barriers in 2017 by exceeding the R1-trillion mark, according to research by the South African Council of Shopping Centres and Urban Studies. The survey, titled SA Shopping Centre Benchmarks 1998-2018, estimates that malls accounted for some 65% of this total.
“I think the future for most retail is going to be: this is the brand, they are a retail brand, and you can shop on your phone, you can shop on your computer, you can go into the store, or you can phone in. Integration is the retailer’s challenge.”
How is online retail doing by comparison? According to Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx, less than 2% of retail revenue is spent online. Considering the rise of real-world retail locally, Yuppiechef’s play, flipping the trolley on the expected practice by going from online to physical, makes sense. Fundamentally the luxury retailer’s decision is driven by its vision of retail tomorrow. “This isn’t an ‘either-or’ question,” Smith says. “The future of retail isn’t online or offline, it is omnichannel.”
Insight #1: Your Fans Aren’t (Always) Your Customers
Smith says that the decision to open physical stores was motivated in part by the discovery that all their marketing was reaching, and resonating, with potential customers but this wasn't necessarily translating into sales.
“We’d often meet people who would say, ‘Oh, Yuppiechef! I love Yuppiechef. We get your newsletters. We know so much about you guys’,” says Andrew Smith, CEO. “We’d say, ‘What have you bought from us?’” Smith acts out the rôle of a shame-faced fan who has yet to make their first purchase: “‘Oh. Nothing’,” he says in a tiny voice, emulating the awkward response.
Studies show that shopping in South Africa remains overwhelmingly dominated by the physical retail experience. Like their peers from Dubai to Dallas, locals visit malls for entertainment — and do shopping on the way.
Insight #2: The Future Is Omnichannel
The idea behind the buzzword ‘omnichannel’ is to integrate all one’s marketing channels to provide a unified shopping experience for the user. It is the strategy that smart retailers are looking at to consolidate and effectively deal with digital disruption.
Yuppiechef implements this in various ways, like having QR codes on every price tag in store, so that shoppers can quickly read reviews of products online using their phones or tablets. Items are easily added to wish-lists, or wedding registries — with no paperwork. In an omnichannel world, at check-out, the customer’s delivery and billing details are instantly on hand for guarantee and returns purposes.
“I think the future for most retail is going to be: this is the brand, they are a retail brand, and you can shop on your phone, you can shop on your computer, you can go into the store, or you can phone in. Integration is the retailer’s challenge. Customers just want to see one consolidated brand, rather than make choices across fragmented channels,” Yuppiechef’s CEO explains.
Insight #3: Agility Wins
When the team went looking for a point-of-sale software, they couldn’t find a solution that integrated with their ecommerce-based back end. Smith tasked his software engineers with building a bespoke POS that takes advantage of the fibre networks in each store and plugs directly into the online system.
They built the point-of-sale software in under three months. “We have a small team that does miraculous work, and are used to doing things quickly,” he says.
Events in JHB & CPT - Online Retail: State Of The Nation
Next week, in Johannesburg and Cape Town, Heavy Chef is hosting World Wide Worx, Platinum Seed and Visa, in two seminal ecommerce-themed events. Andrew Smith will be joining the Heavy Chef event in Cape Town on the 1st November. Uber Eats GM Ailyssa Khan Pretorius will be joining Arthur and Brad in Johannesburg, on the 31st October, to talk about mobile commerce and mobile transactional behaviour.
The Online Retail: State Of The Nation project is a collaboration between World Wide Worx, Platinum Seed, Visa and Heavy Chef.
Charlie Mathews works at Platinum Seed, helping the agency to grow its brand and its partners’ brands. Charlie uses purpose, mentoring, growth marketing, growth hacking, consulting, talking, and always learning and through teaching. Charlie’s dream is to help intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs in Africa achieve their dreams.