Ricoh SA announced exciting developments for 2012 at an event at Swartkop Airport Base in Pretoria on 13 July, including Ricoh’s increased investment in its operations in South Africa, investing R200 million in the region, a move which is part of Ricoh’s strategy to expand its presence in key emerging markets. South Africa is an important focus for the group in EMEA. The investments will further enhance Ricoh’s direct customer interactions and enable it to stay at the forefront of their document management needs. 

There are three new initiatives; the launch of Ricoh Capital South Africa; an optimised supply chain process and infrastructure enhancements. Combined they also ensure Ricoh has a more streamlined approach to account management and that its clients receive a single, consistent Ricoh experience, no matter where they operate. The initiatives will also drive new employment opportunities in the region.

Ricoh Capital South Africa will provide clients with the option to take on leases or service contracts and enjoy all the benefits of Ricoh solutions without capital outlay. They will also have the convenience of managing their entire document solution including service and software into one regular payment. Ricoh Capital has designed its offerings to support the specific needs of Ricoh customers and focuses on its core business areas of office solutions, production printing and managed document services. Ricoh Capital customers will also benefit from increased agility within their business and the ability to make purchasing decisions quickly. They will have greater flexibility to upgrade their solutions during the lease period. It also enables them to keep credit channels open for other business needs.

The review and optimisation of the supply chain process resulted in Ricoh diverting stock management and distribution to Ricoh Europe’s operations in the Netherlands. As a result Ricoh SA gained savings of R100 million which will be reinvested into the business and provide infrastructure enhancements, social responsibility and skills development.

Infrastructure enhancements are part of an EMEA-wide project, designed to streamline Ricoh’s business processes. They ensure more stable processes and robust systems, to drive business growth and enhance customer service, and enable Ricoh to enhance its sales, services and billing processes. They also support Ricoh’s focus to provide a world-class, end to end customer experience. 

Richard Pinker, MD of Ricoh SA, said, ‘Our region is an important focus for Ricoh in EMEA and our team is energised to further increase our client services and contribute to the overall Ricoh growth strategy. Our business focuses upon optimising document processes and improving the interaction between people and information. Our technology heritage and experience means that we can help organisations to be ready to meet the future challenges presented by the impacts of new technologies and the increase in information. We look forward to continue working with organisations in South Africa to further understand how we can help them to reduce costs, streamline document processes and even enhance security, while making realtime informed decisions.’

Ricoh SA has also appointed Morgan Crosby as its new project manager. Crosby will head the company’s project office responsible for rolling out strategic business projects and large customer projects. Crosby’s appointment is closely linked to Ricoh SA’s significant investment to ramp up services, solutions, and infrastructure, in response to local and global market influences.

‘I spent a decade in customer-facing, operational food services prior to numerous roles throughout the next nearly 14 years at Compass Group SA, a member of Compass Group PLC, including change and project management and heading up the IT department, procurement management, and sales support through financial analysis and project management of new business and bids,’ said Crosby.

He has also been deeply involved in a Y2K project and more recently project managed a three-year development of a bespoke, decentralised system, which included testing and rolling it out to more than 450 national locations.

Crosby’s primary role will be to formalise and extend Ricoh SA’s project management capabilities following the industry standard PRINCE2 and Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) principles.

Source: Africa Print News

Visit the shop-sa Facebook page and view the photographs taken at the recent Gauteng Sports Day golf and bowls event. 

When you tag yourself or your company, you stand a chance to win a copy of the SA GOLF & LEISURE VACATIONS coffee table book and guide, complements of www.sagolfandleisure.co.za

Keep checking the shop-sa Facebook page for further image uploads as well as specials and promotions brought to you by shop-sa – the Stationery, Home, and Office Products Association of Southern Africa and its members.

Contact shop-sa on (011) 880 1147.

Gauteng’s hosting of two massive, simultaneous trade shows – Africa’s Big Seven food and beverage expo (AB7) and the iconic Southern African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX) – will this month, directly contribute over R50-million to the Province’s economy.

“With 900 plus confirmed exhibitors from more than 40 countries, this year’s SAITEX and AB7 trade expos are bigger than ever, and together form the largest business opportunities event on the continent,” says John Thomson, Managing Director of Exhibition Management Services (EMS), organisers of the mega-events. AB7 and SAITEX take place from 15 to 17 July at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng.

“Judging by last year’s attendance we can expect more than 15 000 visitors from about 54 countries to attend the shows,” continues Thomson. “With the volume of direct sales, downstream business deals and investments in sectors related to the ambit of the two shows, this R 50-million could increase tenfold. The spinoffs for the South African economy in general are also enhanced, and will play a role across the subcontinent.”

SAITEX and AB7 have both built up high profile reputations with businesses and governments around the world. In fact, a number of countries are sending official trade delegations to attend the shows, including Brazil, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritius, Russia, Singapore, the Sultanate of Oman, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. The delegations will also be setting up their own dedicated trade pavilions to promote trade with their countries.

In addition to the two multi-faceted trade shows, there are a number of business focused trade conferences, workshops and presentations scheduled to take place during the three days of the two shows:

1) DHL BRICS Africa Export Import Forum – BRICS country opportunity presentations – 16 and 17 July.
2) Future of Trade Africa 2012 – 16 July.
3) The 5th International Halaal Conference – Navigating the Halaal Economy – 16 July.
4) Retailing Conference – 16 and 17 July.
5) Export / Import workshops for beginners and experts – 15 to 17 July.
6) SA National Bottled Water Conference – 16 to 18 July

BE SURE TO VISIT THE SHOP-SA STAND IN HALL 3 – Stand number P61

Useful Contact Details

– SAITEX – Anina Hough
Tel: +27 11 783 7250. E-mail: saitex@exhibitionsafrica.com.
– Africa’s Big Seven – Lineke van der Brugghen
Tel: +27 11 783 7250. admin@exhibitionsafrica.com
– The Future of Trade Africa 2012 / DHL BRICS Africa Export/Import Forum – Stephen Oehley Tel: +27 11 026 6313. E-mail: stephen@bricsafricab2b.com
– Halaal Conference – Yacoob Moulana, SANHA. E-mail: applications-kzn@sanha.org.za
Tel: +27 (31) 207 5768. Fax: +27 (31) 207 5793. Mobile: +27 (0) 83 786 0491.
– Retail Conference – Danie Herbst – Trade Conferences International.
Tel: +27 11 803-0009. E-mail: danie@tci-sa.co.za

Rejuvention of the Waltons brand

Waltons has embarked on a rejuvenation process to reposition and rebrand itself in the market.

 

After strategic examination of the business, Waltons’ core business purpose has now been defined as ‘breeding success’. “Our new strategic direction is as a result of considerable introspection and planning. We analysed our current business models and realised that we needed to reinvigorate the brand and evolve, and in some places, reinvent, our core offerings. We realised that we need to listen to our customers and talk more directly to their needs and aspirations,” says David Jenkins, Group Managing Director.

We have adopted three key values to be driven across the business: Solution Focused – I want to give you solutions that are relevant and simple, Success Oriented – I want you to have the best chance at success and Valued Partner – I am an important part of your business. This value set will be supported by the following behaviours:

1.       Do the right thing always

2.       Build a positive team spirit

3.       Embrace and drive change

4.       Act with a common purpose

5.       Be humble (serve before self)

6.       Be innovative and act courageously

7.       Deliver wow through service

8.       Build open and honest relationships

9.       Always be accountable

10.   Be passionate and determined

Partnering with our clients to offer them the best solutions to support their success is a key component of Waltons’ new approach to the way they do business.

“A good way to explain our new mindset is with some tangible examples,” explains Jenkins. “We don’t sell white boards, we sell the ability to capture ideas for growth, we don’t sell calculators and laptops, we sell the ability to make money, and we don’t sell office desks, we sell the corporate culture everyone buys into.”

Walton’s new pay-offline speaks directly to the company’s purpose, while the Waltons wordmark has been brought right up to date, resulting in a refreshed logo with rounder edges and a watermark – resulting in movement and more depth. While remaining true to the brand identity, this update is in sync with a modern company on the move.

The rejuvenation process also addresses previous limitations in the company structure, with a focus on centralising key head office functions to leverage synergies and provide for a more unified and focused organisation.

Walton’s senior management team was proud to launch its new vision for the brand and the organisation through a staff roadshow that took place early June and was rolled out across Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

“In bringing home our new approach, three key themes will be driven across the business as the company gears for a new phase of growth. ‘Commitment’,  ‘Speed’ and ‘Laser-like Focus’ will be expounded upon across all aspects as the company strives towards operational excellence,” states Jenkins.

With a new strategic direction, a clear purpose and well-articulated values and behaviours, together with new operational measures geared towards capturing greater efficiencies and a focus on people and service excellence, the company has set its sights on an exciting new era, following on from a long tradition of success. 

Vodacom has announced the launch of all-in-one Smart Plans which include the smartphone, data, talk time and SMS. These Smart Plans, specifically designed for smartphone users, will be available from 07 July 2012 and will be supported by a wide range of smartphones, great network coverage and unmatched customer experience introducing a Smart New World to Vodacom customers.

 

With Vodacom’s new all-in-one Smart Plans, customers will be able to choose their monthly commitment by selecting a suitable plan based on their needs.  Customers also have the flexibility to add more bundles as required.  

 

“Customers want a combination of quality network coverage, a broad range of smartphones to choose from and excellent service – and we’re offering them just that. We’ve invested over R7 billion on improving the network capacity over the past 12 months and this remains our key focus,” says Enzo Scarcella, Managing Executive of Marketing at Vodacom.

 

Scarcella added – “Vodacom was recently voted the most respected broadband provider in South Africa. We also offer the widest range of smartphones. Now the experience is complete as we offer an all-in-one Smart Plan that allows customers to further take advantage of these Vodacom benefits.”

Vodacom Smart Plans:

 

Monthly cost

Monthly allocation

Promotional minutes

Smart Light

R135

95 minutes

100 MB

100 SMS

  75 off-peak minutes to any network; and

*20 promotional free anytime minutes to other Vodacom customers.

   Smart Standard

R390

250 minutes

300 MB

300 SMS

  130 anytime minutes to any network;

*60 promotional free anytime minutes to other Vodacom customers; and

  60 More weekend minutes to other Vodacom customers.

Smart Advanced

R850

810 minutes

400 MB

400 SMS

  450 anytime minutes to any network;

*180 promotional free anytime minutes to other Vodacom customers; and

  180 More weekend minutes to other Vodacom customers.

Smart Super

R1700

1540 minutes

800 MB

800 SMS

  1000 anytime minutes to any network;

*360 promotional free anytime minutes to other Vodacom customers; and

  180 More weekend minutes to other Vodacom customers.

 

All prices include VAT.

The Smart Light plan is billed per minute.

Smart Plan minutes carry over to the end of the following month.

*Unused promotional free anytime minutes to other Vodacom customers will expire at the end of the month. More weekend minutes to other Vodacom customers are applicable from Saturday (00:00) to Sunday (23:59).

 

Vodacom’s focus is to ensure that its customers enjoy a total telecommunications experience to help them to unlock the power of the Internet. With data bundles allocated upfront and with more affordable in-bundle rates, customers can surf the Internet, download e-mail and stay in touch with friends and family on social networks.

                     

Vodacom stores also help to provide customers with a hassle free smartphone experience by offering them a perfect start which includes setting them up with an e-mail account, Facebook, Twitter and with all their requirements to keep them connected.

 

All new connections, upgrades or migrations to smart plans from 07 July 2012 until 06 September 2012 will qualify for free Vodacom to Vodacom minutes that can be used anytime, peak and off peak, which will be allocated monthly for the duration of the contract. Customers on Smart Standard, Smart Advanced and Smart Super will also receive Vodacom to Vodacom weekend minutes each month.

 

For further information customers can visit www.vodacom.co.za . Customers can contact customer care on 111 free from a Vodacom phone or 082 111 from any other phone, or e-mail customercare@vodacom.co.za

 

 

 CNA’s new website enables consumers to purchase games, movies, music, books and more on account.

 

CNA has revamped its existing website (www.cna.co.za) where consumers can now purchase games, movies, music, books and more using their Edgars or Jet account card.

 

David Gibbons, Edcon’s e-Commerce Executive who is spearheading the group’s online retail offering, says the beauty of this solution is that account holders can purchase entertainment items online 24/7 from CNA while benefiting from store credit, making e-commerce more accessible to those who don’t have credit cards.

 

“The new site opens up online shopping to the Group’s almost 3.9 million account card holders. Customers will also be able to earn Thank U points on all online purchases,” he says.

 

The site has a new, fresh look and is easy to search with thousands of products already on offer across four product categories: books, games, movies and music, along with 10 000 eBooks. CNA is growing the site’s inventory continuously.

 

Online retail is growing

Recent research from World Wide Worx, commissioned by Google, indicates online retail is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, growing around 30 percent per year with no signs of slowing down.

 

“Opening up e-commerce to our entire base of account holders is another positive step to growing the Internet economy in South Africa,” says Gibbons.

 

Gibbons says CNA’s site is secure, uses SSL security and is verified by Entrust. Purchases can be made using a credit card or account card, with a one time pin on account payments adding to users’ security. Customers with any queries can contact the customer service call centre on 0860 262 289 and return online purchases at their nearest CNA store. 

 

New user-friedly design and process

Along with the new design, CNA has re-engineered its entire e-commerce process.

 

“The e-commerce platform that powers the site is new and far more powerful than the previous system. Furthermore, we’ve changed the logistics process and will now hold stock in a centralised warehouse as opposed to distributing products from stores, resulting in a more efficient fulfllment process” he says.

 

Delivery will occur nationwide on average within three days. The delivery charge on all purchases over R350 will be waivered; otherwise a R55 delivery fee will apply.

 

The packaged water bottled on site by restaurants and other hospitality outlets, often as an alternative to bottled waters or tap water, is muddying the water when it comes to legislation and standards, and environmental concerns.

These waters are bottled and packaged on site using bench-top treatment systems utilising filtration, reverse osmosis, carbonation, refrigeration or chilling – as well as combinations of these – to bottle water on demand in re-usable glass bottles, typically closed with a Grolsch-type lid.

 

The water source can be municipal water (tap water), or spring or borehole water should the business have access to this water.

 

Concerns have been raised about this practice, specifically whether or not it conforms to South African packaged water legislation and food safety standards, and whether it offers true environmental benefits as manufacturers of these systems claim.

 

Asked for comment, chairman of the South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA), John Weaver, said the association had been in discussion with the Department of Health with respect to how these waters should be regarded under South African legislation.

 

“SANBWA interprets these waters as being ‘packaged water’ due to the fact that it is marketed and presented as “bottled water”.  Therefore the businesses offering water treated and packed in this way will need to conform to the same packaged water, labelling and food safety legislation as other packaged waters bottled in this country do, including:

·         Microbiological legislation: Regulations Governing Microbiological Standards for Foodstuffs and related matters, R.692

  • Treatment and chemical regulations as per R.718
  • Labelling legislation as detailed in R.718 and Regulations Relating to Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs, R.146

 

“This means they must add best before dates and correct product information on their product bottles and labels. If they don’t, according to South African law, they must cease to offer this product or offer it in jugs.”

 

Weaver said the Department of Health is in the process of ensuring the necessary packaged water legislation is correctly interpreted so that the consumer is not misled when it comes to these new products.

 

The department will also review and suggest guidelines in terms of seals, circumstance of sales, use and marketing of these products.

 

Until this happens, it is vitally important that the hospitality industry and those charged with ensuring its compliance with legislation are familiar with the Department of Health’s interpretation of R.718: Regulations Relating to Packaged Waters (as amended 26 May 2010) because of the confusion these new products are currently creating for the consumer of bottled waters.

 

He also suggested potential users of these systems carefully investigate any ‘green’ claims.

 

“Laudably, restuarants and other businesses in the hospitality industry are, like many others, trying to be more responsible corporate citizens when it comes to environmental matters,” he said.

 

“They’re changing to energy saving light bulbs, they’re encouraging guests not to expect towels to be changed on a daily basis, and they’re electing to replace the bottled water they serve with that packaged on site using one of these systems.

 

“Unfortunately, given the amount of water these systems could use to properly clean and sterilise the re-usable bottles, it is unlikely that they’ll achieve a reduction in their water footprint, and they’d therefore do well to consider this before banning bottled waters.”

 

Bottled water production in South Africa is a very water efficient business in that it has an extremely low ‘water usage’ factor, a factor that Weaver believes the bench-top systems will struggle to attain.  

 

“The term ‘water usage’ refers to how much water is used (volume) to make a finished product.  This measure – sometimes called ‘water footprint’- includes both direct and indirect water usage (in the bottled water industry, that would be water for rinsing and sanitising bottles, plant and general cleaning and sanitation, vehicle washing, floor washing, toilets etc.) and includes water from boreholes and municipal source,” he said.

 

“The total South African bottled water industry benchmark is 1.8:1, and there are plants that achieve ratios of as low as 1.3:1 – 1.4:1 by recycling their bottle rinse water. This 1.8:1 usage of water by the bottled water industry equates to 22.7 litres/second. 

 

“To put this into perspective, just one golf course uses 1 litre/second per hole or 18 litres/second for an 18 hole golf course. This means that the total amount of water used by the bottled water industry just slightly more than the equivalent used by one golf course. Similarly, the fruit export industry uses 0.5 litres/second/hectare, making the bottled water industry’s use equivalent to that of just one 45 hectare farm.”

 

Weaver concluded by asking potential users to not fall victims to urban myth when making their purchasing decision.

 

“One of the arguments against bottled waters is that carcinogenic substances leach into the water from the plastic. This is incorrect, and stems from a concern about phthalates and BPA, which do not exist in PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

 

“PET is used for numerous types of packaging for many foods, including everything from ketchup, peanut butter, soft drinks, and juices to beer, wine and spirits, yet no-one discourages people from consuming of any of these products.

 

“PET is approved as safe for food and beverage contact by the FDA and similar regulatory agencies throughout the world, and has been for over 30 years. PET itself is biologically inert if ingested, is safe during handling, and is not a hazard if inhaled, according to the International Life Sciences Institute Report (ILSI) ‘Packaging Materials 1. Polyethylene Terephthalate PET for Food Packaging Applications’ (2000).”

 

Box 1:

 

SANBWA adheres to the following interpretations:

·         Bulk water: tanker – distributed to rural areas = public water supply and not within the scope of packaged water legislation

  • Bulk Water: office coolers = packaged water (and, as per Europe, hermetically sealed, just a bigger bottle) when seal broken and on cooler = drinking water
  • Re-filling into consumer’s containers = drinking water not within the scope of packaged water legislation
  • Benchtop treated waters and shop-floor treated waters bottled on site = packaged water that should be hermetically sealed with a tamper evident component

 

Box 2:

 

The following definitions are adhered to by the Department of Health:

·         Packaged Water – R.718: ‘Packaged water’ means water that is packed in hermetically sealed containers of various forms, capacities and approved safe and suitable materials and which is indented as a foodstuff for human consumption.

  • Milk and Milk Products – R.1555: ‘Hermetically sealed container’ means an unopened container which cannot be opened without breaking or damaging such container or seal, adhesive label or other part of or attachment to such container and which is intended to protect its contents against the entry of micro-organisms.

 

 

Web site:www.sanbwa.co.za

 

For further information contact: 

Petra Peacock

+27 11 7944665; +27 83 3031778

petrap@iafrica.com

The City of Cape Towns Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environment and Spatial Planning, Alderman Belinda Walker, has launched the Cape Town Activa Web Portal. The portal boasts a vast array of online resources, tools and links for those who want to start and develop a business or secure employment in Cape Town.

 

Cape Town Activa is a City initiative that aims to develop a world-class ecosystem for entrepreneurs and that will transform Cape Town into a city that is open for business and attractive to outside investors. Cape Town Activa was established to create an enabling environment for enhanced collaboration among public and private sector stakeholders interested in entrepreneurship. 

 

 

With the launch of the online portal, www.capetownactiva.com, the City’s vision to become a lucrative economic centre for entrepreneurship is now one step closer to being realised.

 

Cape Town Activa seeks to lobby issues facing entrepreneurs, ultimately giving them a unified voice, and provide a first stop solution to anyone operating in this space. From an individual with a business idea, but no plan to get it off the ground; to an entrepreneur in the first few years of operation requiring access to an incubator environment; or entrepreneurs looking to take their venture to the next level it just got a whole lot easier with the development of the new online resource.

 

Lavendra Naidoo, General Manager of The Business Place eKapa, and the Implementing Partner of the Cape Town Activa initiative, commented on this latest announcement that will see technology driving economic development:

Every internet caf, public library and smart phone just became an Activa branch, thanks to the new user-friendly web portal. We are very excited that this resource-rich portal will now be accessible to anyone with an internet connection, negating the need to catch a train or take a taxi to an Activa centre.

 

By connecting entrepreneurs to organisations keen to support their endeavors, exciting business potential is maximised. Cape Town Activa bridges the gap between where these entrepreneurs are currently and where they want to be. In addition, the initiative seeks to contribute to the development of human capital by creating a mechanism to make job-seekers in the city more employable and direct them towards support services wherever possible.

 

A key component of this business ecosystem is the support organisation network. These organisations provide a myriad of skills, training, information and tools for entrepreneurs that offer a catalyst to economic development. For any organisation looking to offer such support and become involved in a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem mandated by the City, the possibility of an exciting partnership awaits by registering on the web portal www.capetownactiva.com to ensure the best possible service offering to the citizens of Cape Town.

 

Alderman Belinda Walker said, “Cape Town is positioning itself as an Opportunity City for entrepreneurs and we continue to work at removing barriers to entry. Cape Town Activa is one of our chief initiatives that will create the enabling environment to allow entrepreneurs to seize these opportunities.”

 

All players in this exciting space are encouraged to get connected and explore the potential for renewed business prospects in Cape Town and for citizens to make use of the information and support provided by the web portal, Alderman Walker added.

 

Cape Town Activa ultimately aims to develop a world-class entrepreneurship and job-seekers ecosystem that transforms Cape Town into the entrepreneurs city of choice on the continent and a city open for business for outside investors. With the launch of Cape Town Activas new web portal, the initiative is one step closer to reaching this goal. Visit www.capetownactiva.com.

 

Join the other online conversations with Cape Town Activa on Facebook at www.facebook.com/capetownactiva or on Twitter at @ctactiva

 

Email: adri.senekal@ctactiva.info

 

Url: www.capetownactiva.com

Media enquiries: * Alderman Belinda Walker, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environment and Spatial Planning, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 400

1314 or

Cell: 083 629 8031, E-mail: Belinda.walker@capetown.gov.za

 

* Adri Senekal: Stakeholder Relations and Communication, Cell: 082 944 4455 or E-mail: Adri.senekal@ctactiva.info

 

 

About Cape Town Activa:

The establishment of Cape Town Activa forms part of the City of Cape Towns strategic objective to put the city on the map. Through a partnership network that seeks to provide an enabling environment for better collaboration between public and private sector stakeholders interested in entrepreneurship, the initiative is a catalyst for economic development.

 

As the first stop solution for entrepreneurs and business owners at different stages of business development, Cape Town Activa seeks to cut through the red tape, fostering vibrant and dynamic entrepreneurial growth.

Key stakeholders are entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as support organisations that provide the critical resources required by them, including access to shared information, a range of aligned products, tools, programmes and industry events.

 

The launch of the web portal is exciting news in terms of accessibility to the resource-rich ecosystem. Valuable online tools, tips and techniques, as well as a comprehensive list of the support organisations communicating their education, networking and information sharing events are features on www.capetownactiva.com. Also included is a blog page populated with daily articles on market trends and industry news to keep business owners at the top of their game. Cape Town Activa can assist job-seekers in becoming more employable too, by providing critical insights from industry leaders and experienced mentors on job hunting, creating a winning CV and interview skills.

 

 

The Home Tester Club, a social community review and ratings site born in South Africa and being exported internationally by the Buchanan Group, has signed up its 25th thousand member in South Africa, showing growth of more than 200% over the past eight months. The rapid growth has doubled the size of this social community over the past six months.

 

The Buchanan Group, known for its retail marketing tools such as Brand Power, Zoot Review and Medifacts, launched The Home Tester Club (http://www.hometesterclub.com) just over a year ago in a bid to allow FMCG retail brands to tap into the power of social media and the subsequent rise in the importance of online and web-influenced offline sales, which already accounts for 42% of total retail sales in the US. The Home Tester Club allows consumers access to a platform where they can rate and review new FMCG products on a safe, trusted and uncensored platform.

 

Building a community of interest around product reviews and shared shopping advice was the brainchild of Buchanan’s South African operation headed by Buchanan Group Africa, India and Middle East CEO Steve Cragg. The social platform has since been exported to India with plans afoot to roll it out into various international markets.

 

New FMCG products brands can use the network to distribute samples to The Home Tester Club community members who not only rate and review the product but also serve as brand advocates by handing out product samples to friends, family and neighbours.

 

The reviews and ratings posted on the Club allows fellow shoppers access to unbiased opinion and recommendations on new products and also serves marketers with consumer insights outside formal focus groups, while gaining unforced traction through word-of mouth in the social media space for brands who ultimately can also choose to these use consumer recommendations in its marketing communications.

 

“Clients are starting to see the value in what the club and specifically the Word of Mouth Advocacy has to offer,” says Cragg. “To date we have run Word of Mouth Advocacy Sampling campaigns for Unilever, Nestle, Kraft and Pioneer Foods and more brands are signing up.”

 

One such campaign, for Comfort Fabric Conditioner, saw 833 club members receive 10 000 samples to use and review as well as to distribute to their personal networks. A special Facebook site was set up and linked to a travel prize where consumers receiving samples were directed to and asked to share their experiences. Within four weeks the page received over ten thousand ‘Likes,’ reached 54 655 consumers virally and served up 982 158 page impressions. The cherry on top was that 75% of HTC trialists surveyed had bought new Comfort Fabric Conditioner after it had been passed on to them to try.

 

Ultimately the Club will expand beyond the internet and onto mobile devices for use in the actual retail environment taking the community much closer to the actual transaction. Quick Response (QR) codes will allow club members to view new product ratings at the point-of-purchase and then decide whether it’s worthwhile or not.

 

The Home Tester Club in India is also growing rapidly with over 10 000 members signed up onto the platform and 17 000 fans on its Facebook page.

 

For more information log onto www.hometesterclub.com or contact Craig Melling-Williams on 021 424 2310.

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