Tag: retail

By Suman Bhattacharyya for Digiday 

As a growing number of people go to Amazon to buy office supplies, Office Depot is trying to find another use for its nearly 1 400 physical stores. One it’s testing: Transforming them into co-working spaces.

The company is testing the concept through a Los Gatos, California-based “Workonomy Hub” it opened in August. Inside it, a 5 000 square-foot co-working space includes open “hot desks”, closed offices, a lounge with a Starbucks kiosk, and an online-order pickup and shipping area. It’s an effort to repurpose empty store space as a co-working and business-service hub — and a place businesses can learn about and take advantage of consulting services that cover marketing, business development and staffing.

“The traditional retail model is highly focused on convenience, and making one sale today; we have that as a component of our business, but we want that longer-term relationship with the customer,” said Kevin Moffitt, chief retail officer at Office Depot.”[Small-business] customers are already coming to us for marketing services, print services and tech services, and for us, it’s a natural adjacency to the products and services we already offer.”

The repurposing of vacant retail space for service and co-working offerings is a trend across the industry. Malls are opening up unused space to shared workspace providers and startup incubation programs. Meanwhile, traditional retailers are redesigning store spaces as service hubs. For example, Staples last year partnered with co-working startup Workbar to roll out co-working spaces with happy hours and slick modern designs.

The trend is also going another way, with industry heavyweights like WeWork adding ancillary services to support small businesses, including, most recently, ad agency-style marketing services.

Office Depot, which has seen services as a portion of its Business Services Division revenue grow 28 percent year over year, sees co-working spaces as a customer acquisition channel for its services offerings. It’s using its connections with community groups, along with its capacities to advise businesses on both strategy, as well as tech, as differentiators against businesses wholly dedicated to co-working.

“Our approach is that it’s everything you need under a single roof with support from dedicated specialists and associates,” Moffitt said.

Office Depot declined to comment on whether the Los Gatos Workonomy Hub is profitable, but the company said it’s considering other markets in which co-working spaces would meet demand. The company’s CEO Gerry Smith, however, recently told investors early results from the co-working space are encouraging, driving higher sales for services and products compared to the average store.

To help meet the demand for service offerings, Moffitt said Office Depot has access to thousands of trained service staff the company inherited from its CompuCom acquisition last year. Despite the fact that consulting staff can be expensive, he said Office Depot is making a longer-term play for customer loyalty, which can be underpinned through connections made at co-working hubs.

To industry watchers, Office Depot’s foray into co-working is illustrative of the growing demand for shared office spaces as gig economy workers seek flexible workspace in crowded, expensive metropolitan areas. Charlie Robinson, svp for the U.S. at Servcorp, a global provider for shared office space, said for shared workspace providers, the landlord model isn’t enough of a longer-term strategy for sustainability.

“You don’t want to only be in the rent arbitrage game — over 50 percent of our revenues come from other services,” he said.

By Mark Bergen and Jennifer Surane for Bloomberg / Fin24 

For the past year, select Google advertisers have had access to a potent new tool to track whether the ads they ran online led to a sale at a physical store in the US. That insight came thanks in part to a stockpile of Mastercard transactions that Google paid for.

But most of the two billion Mastercard holders aren’t aware of this behind-the-scenes tracking. That’s because the companies never told the public about the arrangement.

Google and Mastercard brokered a business partnership during about four years of negotiations, according to four people with knowledge of the deal, three of whom worked on it directly.

The alliance gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, part of the search giant’s strategy to fortify its primary business against onslaughts from Amazon.com and others.

But the deal, which has not been previously reported, could raise broader privacy concerns about how much consumer data technology companies like Google quietly absorb.

“People don’t expect what they buy physically in a store to be linked to what they are buying online,” said Christine Bannan, counsel with the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

“There’s just far too much burden that companies place on consumers and not enough responsibility being taken by companies to inform users what they’re doing and what rights they have.”

Google paid Mastercard millions of dollars for the data, according to two people who worked on the deal, and the companies discussed sharing a portion of the ad revenue, according to one of the people. The people asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

A spokesperson for Google said there was no revenue sharing agreement with its partners.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the partnership with Mastercard but addressed the ads tool. “Before we launched this beta product last year, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users’ personally identifiable information,” the company said in a statement.

“We do not have access to any personal information from our partners’ credit and debit cards, nor do we share any personal information with our partners.” The company said people can opt out of ad tracking using Google’s “Web and App Activity” online console.

Inside Google, multiple people raised objections that the service did not have a more obvious way for cardholders to opt out of the tracking, one of the people said.

Seth Eisen, a Mastercard spokesperson, also declined to comment specifically on Google. But he said Mastercard shares transaction trends with merchants and their service providers to help them measure “the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns.” The information, which includes sales volumes and average size of the purchase, is shared only with permission of the merchants, Eisen added. “No individual transaction or personal data is provided,” he said in a statement.

“We do not provide insights that track, serve up ads to, or even measure ad effectiveness relating to, individual consumers.”

Last year, when Google announced the service, called “Store Sales Measurement,” the company just said it had access to “approximately 70%” of US credit and debit cards through partners, without naming them.

More possible deals

That 70% could mean that the company has deals with other credit card companies, totalling 70% of the people who use credit and debit cards. Or it could mean that the company has deals with companies that include all card users, and 70% of those are logged into Google accounts like Gmail when they click on a Google search ad.

Google has approached other payment companies about the program, according to two people familiar with the conversations, but it is not clear if they finalised similar deals. The people asked to not be identified because they were not authorised to speak about the matter.

Google confirmed that the service only applies to people who are logged in to one of its accounts and have not opted out of ad tracking. Purchases made on Mastercard-branded cards accounted for around a quarter of US volumes last year, according to the Nilson Report, a financial research firm.

Through this test programme, Google can anonymously match these existing user profiles to purchases made in physical stores. The result is powerful: Google knows that people clicked on ads and can now tell advertisers that this activity led to actual store sales.

Google is testing the data service with a “small group” of advertisers in the US, according to a spokesperson. With it, marketers see aggregate sales figures and estimates of how many they can attribute to Google ads – but they don’t see a shoppers’ personal information, how much they spend or what exactly they buy.

The tests are only available for retailers, not the companies that make the items sold inside stores, the spokesperson said. The service only applies to its search and shopping ads, she said.

For Google, the Mastercard deal fits into a broad effort to net more retail spending. Advertisers spend lavishly on Google to glean valuable insight into the link between digital ads a website visit or an online purchase.

It’s harder to tell how ads influence offline behaviour. That’s a particular frustration for companies marketing items like apparel or home goods, which people will often research online but walk into actual stores to buy.

That gap created a demand for Google to find ways for its biggest customers to gauge offline sales, and then connect them to the promotions they run on Google.

“Google needs to tie that activity back to a click,” said Joseph McConellogue, head of online retail for the ad agency Reprise Digital. “Most advertisers are champing at the bit for this kind of integration.”

Initially, Google devised its own solution, a mobile payments service first called Google Wallet. Part of the original goal was to tie clicks on ads to purchases in physical stores, according to someone who worked on the product.

But adoption never took off, so Google began looking for allies. A spokesperson said its payments service was never used for ads measurement.

So Google added more …

Since 2014, Google has flagged for advertisers when someone who clicked an ad visits a physical store, using the Location History feature in Google Maps. Still, the advertiser didn’t know if the shopper made a purchase. So, Google added more. A tool, introduced the following year, let advertisers upload email addresses of customers they’ve collected into Google’s ad-buying system, which then encrypted them.

Additionally, Google layered on inputs from third-party data brokers, such as Experian and Acxiom, which draw in demographic and financial information for marketers.

But those tactics didn’t always translate to more ad spending. Retail outlets weren’t able to connect the emails easily to their ads. And the information they received from data brokers about sales was imprecise or too late.

Marketing executives didn’t adopt these location tools en masse, said Christina Malcolm, director at the digital ad agency iProspect. “It didn’t give them what they needed to go back to their bosses and tell them, ‘We’re hitting our numbers,’” she said.

Then Google brought in card data. In May 2017, the company introduced “Store Sales Measurement.” It had two components. The first lets companies with personal information on consumers, like encrypted email addresses, upload those into Google’s system and synchronise ad buys with offline sales. The second injects card data.

It works like this: a person searches for “red lipstick” on Google, clicks on an ad, surfs the web but doesn’t buy anything. Later, she walks into a store and buys red lipstick with her Mastercard.

The advertiser who ran the ad is fed a report from Google, listing the sale along with other transactions in a column that reads “Offline Revenue” – only if the web surfer is logged into a Google account online and made the purchase within 30 days of clicking the ad. The advertisers are given a bulk report with the percentage of shoppers who clicked or viewed an ad then made a relevant purchase.

Most powerful tool

It’s not an exact match, but it’s the most powerful tool Google, the world’s largest ad seller, has offered for shopping in the real world. Marketers once had a patchwork of consumer data in their hands to triangulate who saw their ads and who was prompted to spend. Now they had far more clarity.

Google’s ad chief, Sridhar Ramaswamy, introduced the product in a blog post, writing that advertisers using it would have “no time-consuming setup or costly integrations.” Missing from the blog post was the arrangement with Mastercard.

Early signs indicate that the deal has been a boon for Google. The new feature also plugs transaction data into advertiser systems as soon as they occur, fixing the lag that existed previously and letting Google slot in better-performing ads.

Malcolm said her agency has tested the card measurement tool with a major advertiser, which she declined to name. Beforehand, the company received $5.70 in revenue for every dollar spent on marketing in the ad campaign with Google, according to an iProspect analysis. With the new transaction feature, the return nearly doubled to $10.60.

“That’s really powerful,” Malcolm said. “And it was a really good way to invest more in Google, frankly.”

But some privacy critics derided the tool as opaque. EPIC submitted a complaint about the sales measuring tack to the US Federal Trade Commission last year. A report in August that Facebook Inc. was talking with banks about accessing information for consumer service products sparked similar criticism. For years, Facebook and Google have worked to link their massive troves of user behaviour with consumer financial data.

And financial companies have plotted ways to tap into the bounty of digital advertising. The Google tie-up isn’t Mastercard’s only stab at minting the data it collects from customers. The company has built out its data and analytics capabilities in recent years through its consulting arm, Mastercard Advisors, and gives advertisers and merchants the ability to forecast consumer behaviour based on cardholder data.

Ad buyers that work with Google insist that the company is careful to maintain the walls between transaction information and web behaviour, keeping any info flowing to retailers and marketers anonymous. “Google is really strict about that,” said Malcolm.

Before launching the product, Google developed a novel encryption method, according to Jules Polonetsky, head of the Future Privacy Forum, who was briefed by Google on the product. He explained that the system ensures that neither Google nor its payments partners have access to the data that each collect.

“They’re sharing data that has been so transformed that, if put in the public, no party could do anything with it,” Polonetsky said. “It doesn’t create a privacy risk.”

Future Privacy Forum, a non-profit, receives funding from 160 companies including Google.

Google’s ad business, which hit $95.4bn in 2017 sales, has maintained an astounding growth rate of about 20% a year. But investors have worried how long that can last. Many major advertisers are starting to funnel more spending to rival Amazon, the company that hosts far more, and more granular, data on online shopping.

In response, Google has continued to push deeper into offline measurements. The company, like Facebook and Twitter, has explored the use of “beacons,” Bluetooth devices that track when shoppers enter stores.

Some ad agencies have actively talked to Google about even more ways to better size up offline behaviours. They have discussed adding features into the ads system such as what time of day people buy items and how much they spend, said John Malysiak, who runs search marketing for the Omnicom agency OMD USA.

“We’re trying to go deeper with Google,” he said. “We’d like to understand more.” Google declined to comment on the discussions.

How shopping is changing in a digital world

Shopping: love it or loathe it, a wave of innovation is heading this way – and it promises to make a visit to your local mall a far more productive and pleasant experience.

Deloitte is at the forefront of this trend with the creation of a Connected Retail Experience at its Deloitte Greenhouse innovation hub in Cape Town.

Shorter queues at checkout, a much better selection of goods, personalised, relevant special offers and the ability to have out-of-stock items delivered to your door within 24 hours. These are just a sample of the innovations coming to the South African retail sector that promise to make your shopping experience a whole lot more enjoyable and engaging.

That’s according to Corniel van Niekerk, senior manager at Deloitte, the professional services firm which is emerging as one of the key players bringing what’s known as ‘Connected Retail’ to South Africa.

“It’s an exciting time for consumers and retailers alike. Connected Retail technologies will not only make for a vastly improved shopping experience for customers, but retailers and suppliers who embrace and implement them effectively will see a significant boost to their bottom line. In this sense it’s a genuine win-win situation,” says Corniel.

So how could such a Connected Retail experience play out for you as a shopper? It may begin well before a visit to the store with an email, instant message or app notification about a product you’re actually interested in, rather than annoying spam about stuff with no relevance to you.

You may, for example, have a dinner party coming up at the weekend and get a discount voucher on a hard-to-find ingredient for that recipe you bookmarked in the store’s smartphone app last week which has now come into season and just arrived at the store.

Once you go to the store, the personalised experience continues. After you put the ingredients for that recipe into your basket and approach the wine section, you get a notification alerting you to a Pinot Noir that’s not only on promotion but will pair perfectly with the wild mushroom risotto you’ve planning to serve your guests.

Another innovation called ‘endless aisles’ will allow you to buy items currently out of stock or not usually stocked at the store, like a garment or shoes in a less common size or colour, and have it delivered to your home within a day or two.

And leaving with your purchases promises to be a more streamlined affair thanks to technology that lets stores better monitor customer flows and allocate staff to till points more quickly when demand increases – one element of the Connected Workforce which will empower and incentivise staff with technologies like gamification.

Self-service checkouts – which are currently being trialled by a major retailer at one of its Cape Town stores – promise, if properly implemented, to make for another quicker and easier checkout option for customers.

“The coming Connected Retail revolution will combine the best aspects of the online and bricks and mortar shopping experience, making for happier, more loyal customers who spend more at the store,” says Corniel.

But for this to happen will require looking beyond the Connected Customer, Connected Store and Connected Workforce, and bringing a series of technologies and innovations to the entire retail value chain.

The Connected Supplier will use embedded sensors and advanced analytics to prevent unscheduled asset downtime, increase labour productivity and synchronise or integrate activities, while the Connected Supply Chain will employ advanced computational techniques to forecast disruptions, reduce shortages, optimise warehouse collection and delivery slots and pro-actively manage advanced chains to reduce waste and theft.

Digitalisation and the store of the future have been topics of discussion in various forums, but at Deloitte, we believe it’s now time to make the concept real for the clients in our market and link business value to practical solutions,” says Corniel.

To this end, the firm recently strengthened its South African retail team with the addition of a number of individuals with extensive expertise in the international and domestic retail sectors.

It has also established a physical Connected Retail Experience at its Deloitte Greenhouse innovation hub in Cape Town. This immersive, interactive experience allows visitors to gain practical, tangible insights into every aspect of the Connected Retail ecosystem, sampling proven solutions alongside brand new technology relevant to each of the touch points: consumer, store, workforce, supplier and supply chain.

“It’s part of Deloitte’s new focus on ‘show not tell’ and we’re confident it will give our retail sector clients a significant advantage over their competitors as they position themselves to avoid the pitfalls and capitalise on the enormous opportunities offered by the Connected Retail wave,” concludes Corniel.

Source: Supermarket & Retailer 

It’s no secret that South African shoppers are beset by a storm of rising prices and it seems their shopping baskets are definitely feeling the pain with the average consumer now hyper aware of what they’re purchasing.

As a result, the latest Nielsen Shoppergraphics Report – which looks at shifts in consumer purchasing behaviour within 4 000 representative households across the country on a quarterly basis – reveals local consumers have dropped products from an unprecedented three grocery categories from their shopping basket; namely Household/Cleaning Goods, Beverages and Toiletries.

Nielsen CPG client service director Kelly Arnold comments; “It’s no secret that South African consumers are experiencing a severe wallet squeeze thanks to a raft of rising costs including spiralling petrol and electricity prices, the implementation of sugar tax and a VAT increase to 15%. The effect that this has had on consumer behaviour is profound and we’re now clearly seeing shoppers jumping out of some categories and consolidating their spend.

“As the household basket has become more expensive, we have also seen consumers limiting the number of trips, to 60 trips a year on average, and the top up shop that used to be twice or three times a week has dropped to once every two weeks, with spend per trip now averaging at R210.”

Overall the volume of sales has grown by 2.8%, with the monetary value of sales growing at about 6.3%.

“That said, we’re simply not seeing massive growth with consumers shopping less and spending slightly less; although there are instances of upgrading to larger pack sizes which may be a contributory factor to the small levels of growth.

“Interestingly, the repertoire or number of stores that consumers visit has increased to 4.9 retailers a year. This is as extremely price conscious consumers seek out deals, and are more prepared to shop around.”

What’s in and what’s out?
Drilling down to category performance, Arnold reports that consumers now purchase around 68 categories per year. “We have seen a move towards consumers spending more on dry groceries and perishables with staples remaining stable. The highest amount of spend is happening in frozen chicken and ready to eat cereals, sugar and UHT milk (a long-term trend) and canned meat. The latter might be because of the Listeriosis crisis earlier this year which compelled many consumers to switch from cold meats.

Looking at the specific categories that have experienced the biggest declines Household/Cleaning Goods which are no longer seen as a necessity have dropped by 6% and Beverages by 6%, with Carbonated Soft Drinks (CSDs) experiencing particularly negative performance.

“In this regard, contributing factors may well be the shift in volumes from 500ml to 450 ml size bottle within some of the top brands as well as an influx of other brands carving out a market share for themselves and now spreading their national footprint,” explains Arnold.

An upswing in branded retail
The Shoppergraphics Report also revealed a shift towards modern branded retail outlets away from independent retail within the LSM 1-6 market.

“The growth in usage of branded retail chains by this market could be due to the fact that more retail chains have opened stores in previously under-served areas with large, traditionally modern trade retailers having invested in this sector in the last two years. We also know that branded retail offers more competitive pricing and is therefore seen as less expensive,” says Arnold.

In contrast, higher LSM groups are increasing their spend in independent retail. “The type of behaviour driving this trend is that higher LSM groups are going to branded retail for their big monthly shops and utilising independent retail outlets to do their more frequent top-up shopping. For example, ‘I’m on my way home to Soweto I stop at the taxi rank where there is a Spaza shop nearby, grab a couple of things as a top-up’, resulting in LSM 7-10 spending more there,” explains Arnold.

To counter these trying times, retailers need to ensure they have the right composition of goods for their shoppers, at the right price given that positive price perception is extremely important for future success.

Arnold stresses: “Retail data has also never been more important in order to move past tough times .”

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

If 2017 is anything to go by, Black Friday is quickly becoming one of the busiest South African shopping days and, like the US, marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

This year, online retailers are preparing for even more hype, but are we getting ahead of ourselves? Let’s take a step back and review what we can learn from previous years:

1. Start early to reap rewards
As early as October 2017, the N1 in Gauteng bore the fruit of well-planned marketing campaigns with enticing billboards. Research shows that more than 50% of holiday shoppers start researching gift ideas in October or earlier. This tells us that we need to plan ahead, and by early November, you’ll need to kick off your campaign to ensure marketing ROI.

Not only does this give you more time to generate opportunity, but useful, published links will start building page SEO – crucial in the ever-competitive e-commerce sphere. Major retailers are pulling out all the stops from well-segmented email marketing to encouraging customers to add products to their carts ahead of the day. But, Black Friday does not only attract the big players but the smaller retailers too. In 2017, Nichemarket listed more than 500 participating stores from niche to e-commerce giants.

2. Integrate and personalise
Sure Black Friday has a certain, recognisable look, but marketing efforts have become more personalised. Think beyond the homepage and set up custom product landing pages. Integrate these with your social media platforms for wider reach. Remember to include your marketing material throughout for a consistent, familiar message. Entice consumers with a clear USP.

3. Set the clock to create urgency
It’s a one-day-only type of thing, so get in with the hype and add a countdown timer to your website. Like Takealot, you can offer exclusive discount newsletter sign-ups with early deal leaks to get your customers on board. If you decide to extend the frenzy to Cyber Monday, communicate this with your customers before-hand. In 2017, Superbalist did this well by gamifying their deals with locks. Not only did they keep their customers informed but engaged throughout the entire weekend.

4. Make the most of seasonal shoppers
Before Black Friday, you need to have your Christmas specials in place to benefit from the Black Friday hype that still lingers. Allow it to link with Black Friday and continue to drive sales after the big day as people continue to shop over the entire holiday season.

5. Involve the entire team for great customer experience
On Black Friday you’ll be very busy. Whilst it’s important to drive sales, involve the entire team to ensure that you don’t neglect your customers. Done right, Black Friday is a great brand awareness tool, but if your customer experience suffers, even the brand loyalists may stray afterwards. You may need to hire extra staff or work longer hours.

6. Consider an omnichannel approach
Customer satisfaction extends to shipping, so consider offering free delivery or perhaps an in-store collect option for those yearning immediate gratification on their spend. It is important to understand the interchange between physical and online stores – consumers prefer an omnichannel approach where they can research and shop both online and in-store.

7. Offer generous discounts
Leading up to Black Friday, Game launched its online store with generous discounts knowing that it would motivate new and on-the-fence consumers to purchase. In the US “Black Friday bargains were bigger, on average, last year“.

Small, negligible discounts just don’t match the hype and it certainly won’t attract the powerful (and savvy online shopping) millennial consumer market. Before your brand jumps on the BF bandwagon, it may be wise to assess whether it’s worth it? Some shops choose deliberately to opt out and so could you.

8. Accommodate mobile users
Make it easy for customers to shop online by optimising your mobile checkout process. Consider adding a one-click checkout option to streamline the process, and offering real-time online support for quality customer support.

By Tom Warren for The Verge

Microsoft and Walmart are teaming up for a strategic partnership that will take on rival Amazon in both technology and retail. Walmart is announcing today, at Microsoft’s Inspire partner conference, that it’s partnering with Microsoft to use the company’s cloud services. The five-year agreement will see Walmart use Azure and Microsoft 365 across the company, alongside new projects focused on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data platforms.

Walmart is Amazon’s biggest retail competitor, and Microsoft is Amazon’s largest cloud services rival. That rivalry isn’t lost on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who hinted in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that it’s “absolutely core to this” new partnership. “How do we get more leverage as two organisations that have depth and breadth and investment to be able to outrun our respective competition,” says Nadella.

While the tech partnership will obviously benefit both companies, it also comes just weeks after reports suggested Microsoft is working on rival Amazon Go technology for cashier-free stores. Microsoft is reportedly in talks with Walmart for this technology, and the software maker has hired a computer vision specialist from Amazon. Amazon’s Go store in Seattle uses multiple camera and sensors that use computer vision algorithms to detect what items you’re taking out of the store so you’re automatically charged. Microsoft is reportedly experimenting with attaching cameras to shopping carts to track items.

Both Walmart and Microsoft don’t reference too many of the future-facing parts of this strategic deal, and it’s mostly timed for Microsoft’s big partner conference in Las Vegas this week. However, this new deal could be a unique test ground for Microsoft’s bigger AI ambitions and any future plans it has to push other retailers to use its range of cloud services.

Source: Business Day

Nearly 12% of the South African workforce spent more than 60 hours a week on the job. This is despite SA’s labour laws prohibiting more than 45 hours a week.

Mining and retail are the two sectors in which you are likely to work the hardest in SA‚ according to a composite review of professions around the world.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) says of the almost 50 countries sampled‚ SA was the fifth hardest working country with workers spending an average of 43.3 hours a week on the job. Looking only at jobs in the formal sectors‚ the OECD found the mining industry to be in the lead with workers putting in an average of 45.3 hours a week.

TimesLIVE spoke to Desire Mokoena‚ a mine production planner from Mpumalanga, who said mineworkers‚ particularly those in production‚ worked 12-hour shifts‚ mostly six days a week. Sharing her perspective from a woman in mining‚ Mokoena said that while the career could be rewarding‚ it was not always conducive for women.

She gave an example of sanitation for women working underground‚ concerns about personal safety‚ and the physicality of the work.

“As you advance forward [in the mine], you leave the toilets behind. As a woman‚ what are the chances of me having to go back to the [entrance] far away to walk to the bathrooms? It is not safe anymore. There are illegal miners underground so anything can happen. So normally the women would find a corner at the pillars and just relieve themselves … It is dark‚ no one can see you‚ but it is unhygienic‚” she said‚ adding there were no breaks in between the shifts.

Ten hours were spent on labour while the other two hours were spent travelling to and from the operations site underground.

“Underground‚ a lot of things need manpower. You pull cables‚ get onto a high machine, and remember‚ the ground is not level. They say it’s uncomfortable for women. Other women end up having back problems because of such things‚” said Mokoena.

According to the OECD‚ wholesale and retail came in second with workers clocking in an average of 44.7 hours‚ followed by finance and business services at 43.7, and transport and communication at 43.6 hours.

Lily Kok, who has years of retail experience, said, “Retail is one of the easiest industries to get into after matric. When you’re looking for a job‚ in most cases‚ retail would be the first to welcome you into the working field. So I think that’s the first option that people go for.”

With a six-day work week‚ averaging eight hours a day‚ Kok spends about 48 hours a week at work. Most of these hours are spent on her feet. “The only rewarding thing I would say is seeing your customers happy and pleased with the service you have given them‚” she said‚ suggesting there was not a lot of financial gain with the job.

60 hours a week

The OECD said nearly 12% of the South African workforce spent more than 60 hours a week on the job. This is despite SA’s labour laws prohibiting more than 45 hours a week and no more than 10 hours in overtime.

Quoting research from the Stellenbosch University’s Bureau for Economic Research‚ the OECD said men worked the hardest. “SA’s hardest workers are black men younger than 45 in a semi-skilled occupation and lucky enough to have a permanent job in a country with high unemployment.”

The study said women were more likely to work shorter hours‚ because they “tend to be more educated and work in the professional sector”.

But knocking off from work does not necessarily mean they are over for the day. For many women‚ leaving work means the beginning of another task — housekeeping.

“South African women without a housekeeper spend 183 minutes a day on housework‚ as opposed to 75 minutes for men. Women living with children also spent an average of 87 minutes a day taking care of them‚ compared to men‚ who spent seven minutes‚” the OECD said.

Working hours were shorter in more economically thriving provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape. These provinces had a high concentration of highly skilled workers.

According to the report: “The average working hours in these more affluent provinces is affected by migration from other provinces. The Eastern Cape also had some of the lowest working hours‚ but that was because so few people had permanent employment in the impoverished province.”

November retail sales data surprised market expectations with an 8.2% year-on-year increase, the strongest performance in five years.

According to FNB senior economic analyst Jason Muscat, Black Friday, during the last week of November, helped lift sales in the sector.

Sales were higher than the 3.5% year-on-year sales recorded for October, according to data released by Stats SA on Wednesday.

“This was the strongest year-on-year performance in five years,” said Muscat. Month-on-Month sales for November were 4% higher, compared to a -0.1% decline for October and -0.4% recorded for September.

“The figures should be viewed as transient in light of significant buying during the ‘Black Friday’ month, and in the context of relatively lacklustre trading updates from many domestic retailers.”

Muscat said that the figure shows that consumers and retailers are still constrained. Retailers are forced to introduce deep discounts to drive revenue, while sacrificing profit, and consumers are making use of the opportunity to save.

“Nevertheless, the sector is on track to make a significant, positive contribution to both fourth quarter GDP and full year 2017 GDP.”

Muscat said that a moderation in the retail sales data for December is expected. There will also likely be a contraction in the sales data for the first quarter of 2018, coming off the exceptionally high data reported for the fourth quarter.

Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan is also of the view that there may be weaker sales growth reported for December, especially as the Bureau of Economic Research Retail Survey for the fourth quarter showed that the retail sector’s performance during the festive period was not as expected.

The highest growth was reported for other retailers at 20.8%. This includes book stores, jewellers, sporting goods and second-hand goods. Retailers of household furniture, appliances and equipment reported growth of 14.1% and retailers of textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods reported growth of 12.4%.

The main contributors to the 8.2% increase were general dealers, having contributed 2.6 percentage points, textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods with 2.3 percentage points, and other retailers which contributed 2.2 percentage points.

Stefan Sulzer, partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group, said at the end of 2017, the overall economy was in a fragile state as a result of factors such as appalling business confidence, political uncertainty ahead of the election of the new ANC president, as well as high unemployment.

Consequently, it was expected that all of these factors would culminate in constrained consumer consumption.

“However, the overall development of the retail sector was strong, following suit with the previous months. Amongst other factors, this was fuelled by significant promotional activity by retailers in SA,” said Sulzer.

“Based on the most recent retail figures, we can conclude that Black Friday 2018 was bigger than the previous year. It will now be interesting to see what momentum the retail sector carried into the arguably more important December 2017 trading period.”

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

Technology is driving exponential growth and mind-blowing innovation in all areas of life, all around the world.

The tech reckoning 

Certainly, in recent years there have been concerns about rapid changes to our culture and questions about people’s ability to keep pace with those changes. But we have now lived with this generation of consumer technology long enough to all begin seeing very real downsides.

– Facial recognition and other biometrics amp up already serious privacy concerns

– Facebook and Twitter have failed to earn public trust. They’ve failed to police their platforms, letting cyber thugs in to divide the nation and affect an election. Not to mention an avalanche of extremist and offensive postings still finding their way online, despite claims of corrective action by the tech giants.

– Tech ethicist, Tristan Harris, schooled us on the addictive properties of social media, and how we are being controlled by a steady drip of “likes” and retweets — just enough to keep us hooked.

– Some research has shown that depression in teenagers is skyrocketing due to mobile phone use and social media influence.

– Alexa and Google Home are always listening—during a party, at dinner, or even in an argument with your loved ones! The possibility that voice data can be used in court as evidence is going to be the next big hurdle for these products. Where does your privacy begin and end?

– The big five – Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple – (FAMGA) have grown beyond all expectations and are coming under increasing scrutiny for all manner of business, political, and social practices. Coming face to face with a world they didn’t intend to create, Silicon Valley has created its own retreat — disconnected from the billions of “users” they court — in order to reflect on what they wrought.

What this means for business

According to Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer, trust has imploded, reaching an all-time low. Their latest report shows that “85% lack full belief in the system, this belief increases vulnerability to fear and further distrust.”

This is the climate we are in now. Brands, business, boards should take note that this sort of disillusion bleeds over into multiple categories putting loyalty, revenue and brand image at risk.

Retail singularity

The gravitational pull of Amazon continues to challenge all of retail as they struggle to innovate and morph to keep their businesses and customers from being swallowed into the void.

– Just when e-commerce looks to be the only channel, “Spending growth at mom-and-pop businesses has outpaced that of the big chains in the past 2 years”

– “Companies using print catalogs, cut through email clutter social-media saturation to help differentiate brands, sustain existing customers”

– Stores are finding new life as community spaces with live events attracting “Millennials focused on connection and community”

– Bricks and mortar are re-emerging from the black hole of e-commerce. Bonobos and Warby Parker opened physical stores over the last year and now Everlane has just announced 2 new stores. CEO Michael Preysman said “Our customers tell us all the time that they want to touch a product before they buy it. We realized we need to have stores if we’re going to grow on a national and global scale.”

– Technology continues to create amazing in-store experiences for shoppers with VR and AR.

– AI is helping us find the right clothing for every size. Among the many new developments is Start Today USA with their ZOZOSUIT that captures 15,000 measurements so you can confidently order the right size and fit from ZOZO.

– Those dash buttons will probably change into auto-replenishment, subscription services will become even more valuable as they get to know each customer better, and hotels are going to be IoT showrooms answering our every need at a mere mention.

– Micro-leases are the new legal offering that will fill empty spaces with new startups, seasonal, or experiential offerings.

What this means for business

As if Amazon weren’t threat enough, the industry-blurring mega-mergers of Amazon/Whole Foods and CVS/Aetna has more than retailers paying attention. Every big brand should be thinking about how they can be the business that responds to the entire consumer journey — or risk being eaten up by a business that will.

One thing to remember about change is that even though technology is the new shiny thing, people are still your audience and their need for personal attention, products just for them, fun sensorial experiences, confidence in their purchases and authentic community will never, ever go away. Those retailers that can keep innovating around those evergreen consumer desires will eventually win out.

By Mary Meehan for Forbes 

A new era of retail is coming

On October 25 of this year — on an otherwise quiet day in retail news — Nike chief executive Mark Parker fired a reverberating shot across the bow of the entire retail industry.

He announced that out of Nike’s global universe of more than 30,000 retail partners the brand would, going forward, focus its time, attention and capital on forty — FORTY — retailers that Nike calls “strategic wholesale partners.” Partners, he explained, which are willing and able to build out unique and dedicated Nike spaces within their store environments.

With this one brief announcement, Parker had not only given tens of thousands of merchants around the world a Tony Soprano-style kiss on the cheek, but he’d also made the same sweaty-palmed decision that thousands of other brand CEOs secretly wrestle with on a daily basis: whether to abandon the intoxicating volume of the mass market in a sober effort to save their brands from almost certain ruin.

Barely a quarter goes by that I don’t speak with at least one brand executive awakening to the reality that the reach, ubiquity and market penetration that hyper-retailers, department stores and discounters once offered is now the very thing that is siphoning equity from their precious trademarks. The power-merchants that made these brands household names were now the very things rendering them commoditised hostages in a high-speed chase to the bottom. Once the salvation of many a fledgling brand, mass merchants have increasingly become like kryptonite. In a world constantly seeking what’s next, new or special, mass retail has become toxic in its overexposure. For consumers, to whom shopping experiences matter as much, or more, than products, mass merchants are bringing nothing to the table.

Nike is merely one in a growing list of labels rethinking their distribution strategies. Earlier this year Coach announced it would leave the floors of over 250 department stores. Michael Kors also made a similar decision. And high-end outerwear brand Canada Goose, a brand that has traditionally been sold through wholesalers, now has a long-term goal of generating at least half its profits from its direct-to-consumer business. One by one, brands are fleeing the mass market and their absence will weigh heavily on all mass merchants.

However, more important in Nike’s announcement was the bold declaration that only one tenth of one percent of their retailer network — those retailers who could deliver on the brand promise and experience — were even worthy of the brand’s time and attention. The remainder of Nike’s resources, according to Parker, would be dedicated to growing the brand’s direct-to-consumer business through its owned stores and websites, which currently represent about 30 percent of Nike’s total sales.
In a world constantly seeking what’s next, new or special, mass retail has become toxic in its overexposure.

This is by no means a minor shift. In fact, what it portends is a complete reformation of the retail market and a breakdown of the wholesale-retail model for revenue.

Where today the retail market is largely divided by luxury, mid-tier, and discount, the coming decade will see the market more clearly bifurcate into two distinct retail approaches. The first will encompass an ever-swelling number of vertically-integrated brands that focus on serving individual consumers at scale and in a manner that best befits the brand. The second will be a new class of “experiential merchants” that use their physical stores and online assets to perfect the consumer experience across a category or categories of products. They will define the ideal experiential journey, employing expert “product ambassadors” and technology to deliver customer experiences that are truly unique, remarkable and memorable. So memorable that they leave a lasting, positive experiential imprint on the shopper’s psyche.

The solitary aim of these new-era retailers will be to drive significant sales for their brand partners. But unlike stores of today that are single-mindedly focused on four-wall sales, experiential stores of the future will position themselves as true any-channel hubs. They will serve customers through multiple means of fulfilment that will include their own channels as well as direct-to-consumer sales from their brand partners. Attribution for these sales will matter less than delivering the powerful shopping experience responsible for generating them. And for this, brands like Nike will reward experiential merchants handsomely — not simply with conventional product margin but also with upfront media and agency fees. These experiential merchants will, in essence, be media channels and will be earn revenue as such. Brands like Nike will not be their vendors but rather their clients.

Taken in this context, Nike’s announcement on October 25, 2017 was a profound harbinger of a tectonic shift in the industry. One of the world’s largest brands was not merely communicating a new brand strategy but more clearly than ever before, foreshadowing an entirely new and revolutionary era of retail.

Doug Stephens for Business of Fashion

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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