Building your digital brand

Modern technologies have radically changed the way customers interact with retail brands and how retailers run their businesses.

11 December 2023

Franita Bosman, BD-Nav

When I first visited UNIQ – the Shoprite Group’s standalone apparel brand – at Canal Walk shopping centre in Cape Town, I’ll admit that I approached the till a bit sheepishly. I’d heard that UNIQ is the first retail outlet in South Africa to offer self-service checkout and I was both excited and tentative to use it. The process was super-simple – everything in the store is fitted with an RFID tag, so when you place your loot in the checkout “box”, it scans the items and instantly displays the cost of your basket on a customer-facing touchscreen. Swipe your card and you’re good to go.

While the growth of e-commerce in South Africa has been described as explosive in recent years, what innovations like this represent is a local reality – bringing innovation to brick-and-mortar retail experiences remains important. But finding a balance between physical and online innovation isn’t easy. One big challenge for retailers is to hybridise their operations, to bring together the digital and physical legacy, to merge the algorithmic personalisation of e-commerce with the immediacy and customer service of brick-and-mortar stores, says Peter Ludi, business development director at redPanda Solutions.

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