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African retailers fare higher than global average

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African retailers fare higher than global average
Higor Torchia, Country Manager for Vend in the UK and EMEA

According to a study conducted by retail management software company, Vend, over the past year, Africa’s independent retailers enjoyed sales volumes 25% higher than the global average.

The 2018 Retail Benchmarks Report compared data from over 13,000 retailers, it revealed that across Africa, monthly sales volumes per store were 36% higher than retailers in North America and 5% higher than those in the United Kingdom.

The retail industry is one of the top industries in which there are massive strides and changes when it comes to the adoption of technology, the evolving customer journey, and innovation in terms of products and services.

The retail journey is no longer about merely walking into a store and grabbing something off the shelf; the consumer now embarks on a journey together with a retailer or supplier that has several equally-important touch points that include building awareness and interest, then engagement, and a decision to purchase.

IT News Africa spoke to Higor Torchia, Country Manager for Vend in the UK and EMEA who spoke about how African retailers are creating new ways to interact with their customers and generating unique experiences that set them apart from their global peers.

Torchia says, “The African retail scene currently has a lot of energy and stores are keen to try new things. All of that combined with a growing consumer market and new, affordable technologies available for businesses, such as POS systems and loyalty programs make the African market a unique environment for retailers.”

1. Why do you think African retailers are doing better than the global average?

To start with, Africa has a unique market opportunity with a growing base of savvy consumers, combined with an increasing uptake of technology. That makes it a very attractive market for retailers who are being smart about how they run their businesses – ensuring they’re stocking the right products for their customer base and using new, modern technology to provide a better customer experience. We are already seeing many very innovative businesses providing a very unique, seamless and polished experience for their customers, which is helping them to stand out from the crowd.

2. Can you name some of the retailers that fared the best and what was the contributing factor?

We analyzed aggregated data at a high level to identify trends in particular industries and locations. The data is striped of any identifiable information (such as store names), and so we can’t identify any one retailer or consumer.

However we do know that retailers who are thriving are using data to drive their business decisions, and are focusing on what they can do well – such as creating a memorable in-store experience. For example, one of the retailers using Vend is Lego – the only certified Lego Store in Africa located in Johannesburg – and they’re creating a really remarkable customer experience for their customers, such as allowing shoppers to scan Lego boxes to see the model come to life in 3D. Another more local example is Shelflife – Africa’s first-ever “streetwear” store which has been in business for over 12 years and is now South Africa’s largest sneaker retailer. In this case, their uniqueness in being the first movers in a growing market, combined with the shopping experience they can provide with such a large product range has helped them to become hugely successful.

3. How many African/South African retailers does Vend work with?

Vend works with 20,000 stores worldwide and process around R160 million in sales from retailers in South Africa each month. South Africa is one of our fastest growing markets, and we’re seeing a huge demand from local retailers becoming more innovative and looking for better ways to run their stores.

4. Apart from South Africa, which other African countries does the report feature?

Vend powers retail stores in 140 countries, so we have customers in nearly all African countries and they are all featured in the report, as we used the aggregated data to analyze the trends. Apart from South Africa, Nigeria is also a particularly important country for us in Africa.

5. Which industries in Africa are doing better and why do you think that is?

From our analysis, we found out that the most successful verticals in the African retail market in terms of gross revenue are :

– Furniture stores – 100% more gross revenue than global counterparts
– Sporting goods stores – 72% more gross revenue
– Electronics and appliances – 32% more gross revenue

However, the report also showed that African retailers are yet to make full use of customer loyalty, showing around 39% of retailers are missing out on growing sales and repeat business through a loyalty programme. Having a solid loyalty programme and a way of capture customer information can be really critical to the growth and success of a retail business. Doing this lets you see who are your most frequent or ‘VIP’ shoppers and reward them accordingly, and gives your sales staff the ability to better tailor their service to individual customers in your store – again ensuring your customer experience is second-to-none, to keep customers coming back.

6. How can retailers join Vend and how can they benefit?

Getting started with Vend is easy. Retailers can visit our website for a free 30-day trial, or speak to our team for a one-to-one demo that’s tailored to you. Once you’ve decided Vend’s the right system for your retail business you can either get started yourself – Vend has been built to be user-friendly and easy to set-up for a smaller store – or if you’ve got multiple stores or more complex needs you can work directly with our team, or one of our local South African partners to get the most out of Vend from day one. See how Vend can make you more money, automate your hard tasks, and effortlessly give you the best of modern retail at

By Fundisiwe Maseko
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