24 October 2016

Africa’s best kept secret!

On September 27th and 28th, wiGroup participated in its first, of a long series of international trade shows outside of Africa.

“Restaurant Tech Live”, hosted at the impressive ExCel London Conference Center, gathered Hospitality focused professionals from the four corners of Europe and attracted over 9000 visitors. On top of being a great forum to get a glimpse of the European players in the industry, Restaurant Tech Live was an opportunity to meet clients, prospects, to network and establish contact with potential partners.

The overall theme revolved around payment channels, mobile based booking solutions and other B to B online solutions focusing on delivering better operations management such as Point of Sales systems. The POS industry is steering away from heavy, imposing and costly POS systems towards, ePOS and mPOS, providing more agility, portability, enhanced stock management, a better user experience and stats, BUT to a large extent missing out on a vital element… the consumer. This is where wiGroup makes a difference. Our vision is To Simplify and Improve how the world transacts by using mobile in-store and it is primarily taken from the perspective of the consumer and their needs. Our strategy therefrom is implemented in collaboration with POS providers.

Being based in South Africa, it was important for wiGroup to establish some facts as to what wiGroup and Africa really represent. Indeed, few knew that Africa is the largest and fastest growing Mobile Money Market in the world. I therefore took the opportunity of a speaker slot at the tradeshow to share our learnings of the past 9 years that saw wiGroup become the leader in Africa of in-store transacting using the mobile phone.

A major shift has happened in Europe.

The Millennials, once seen as an emerging, technology-savvy, very young population, now represents a mature market with strong purchasing power, that naturally want to use technology for their everyday consumption, work and leisure.
Brands understood that and what we have seen in the past 4 years is strong media spend shifting from TV, to online and mobile. Nonetheless, there are those in the Retail industry and POS players that have not yet seen the light or embraced the power that in-store mobile transacting can offer. By mobile transaction I not only elude to payment but any actions such digital gifting, coupon and voucher distribution and redemption, as well as mobile commerce.

The current recessionary environment induces tougher competition for vendors to earn the right to receive the consumer spend. It is more than ever a buyer’s market and merchants need to establish a rapport with their customers… data is the name of the game and it has become the holy grail that any brand or retailer needs to control in order to retain consumers before even thinking of churning or developing its customer base.
Any retailer is seeking to reduce its costs, increase its in store foot traffic as well as customer basket size, reduce time at the till and generate new revenues such as those that could virtually transform the store into a warehouse to enable mCommerce without changing any of the store operations.

Africa has leapfrogged linear development technology to enable the retailer/consumer a direct dynamic link, with mobile at POS, thus enabling a live exchange of mutually benefiting information, advantages and rewards. Other Emerging Regions where organized retail is on the rise should also follow in the same footsteps as Southern Africa’s.

Interestingly enough, Europe has a disparate technology adoption in mobile usage at POS with the UK and Scandinavia leading the pack; France making trials and we see a slow move in Germany. Furthermore, no FMCG retailer in Germany has adopted mobile at POS and less than 30% have implemented their own loyalty programs, with some relying on shared programs thereby losing out on the data holy grail.

Importance of technology and data

Today is not the time for customer centricity, we are past this, it’s a given. Now is the time to sustain and grow Customer Relationships. Why? Simply because tech allows us to do it. Tech allows brands, retailers and merchants to identify and know its customers better. Tech allows the local coffee shop to understand that Mary is a Tuesday 08:00 double cappuccino customer and she therefore is rewarded for her loyalty with relevant coupons or vouchers to perhaps allow her to have a coffee on her return from work. Tech allows the city hypermarket to know that John is a big consumer of vegetables, fruits and other healthy food. He now receives targeted and relevant information as well brand funded deals that will not spam his loyalty application inbox as the coupons will be adapted to his taste and lifestyle, enabling John to trial new products.

wiGroup has set a foot in UK and will now expand into the rest of Europe as well as North America and Asia. We will provide retailers, hospitality and merchants as well partners in the industry, a truly differentiating capability in seamlessly and uniquely integrating into the POS to enable MOBILE Digital Coupons / Vouchers, Loyalty, Gifting, Payment as well as mCommerce.

The economic environment may seem tough but the market, with consumers that naturally use technology, is there. We nonetheless see that retailers and major POS providers are still slow to see, change and adopt the technology. This technology is the catalyst that will allow the Consumer, Brand, Retailer and POS ecosystem to flourish. This is where wiGroup succeeded in a remarkable tour de force, by enabling the transformation of the Customer engagement with Brands and Retailers.

So stay tuned and watch out for Africa’s best kept secret!

International Commercial Head
Michel de Beauregard- International Commercial Head
wiGroup Marketing
customers, Retail, technology, wiGroup
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