“We need economic growth to stimulate retail sales in Africa” – Grant Morgan

Grant Morgan, Cloud General Manager at Dimension Data,
Grant Morgan, Cloud General Manager at Dimension Data

Black Friday has quickly become a major retail campaign in South Africa, particularly for online stores. Last year, overall sales spiked by almost 2600% on the day.

But online retailers in particular encountered major issues with website uptime or payment platform stability due to the huge influx of online visitors.

In an interview with IT News Africa, Grant Morgan, Cloud General Manager at Dimension Data, gave us insight on how online retailers can prepare themselves to keep up with visitor demand, security, the acceleration of retail growth.

What needs to be done to accelerate retail growth in Africa?

Obviously with 17.5% unemployment, we need economic growth to stimulate retail sales in Africa, but reliable online retailing could also be a short terms fix for those segments that rely heavily on public transport to get to the shops. According to Statista.com, only 1.8% of retail is online compared to 12.1% in Asia pacific.

How important is it that retailers understand the digital customers journey?

With e-Commerce share of total global retail sales expected to get to 17.5% and the fact that more African are connecting to the intent via mobile phone, it is critical for retails to understand the customers digital journey to reach new customers.

With Black Friday coming up, how can online retailers prepare themselves to keep up with visitor demand?

With even the biggest online retails like Takealot with tarnished reputations of crashing on Black Friday, they need to be better prepared to sustain the volumes and restore confidence. May retailers have opted to extend their specials over longer periods, typically over the entire week, but this is just a cop out. Retailers need infrastructure that can scale automatically that cloud providers can easily provide and secondly need to be writing their software using new micro-services to ensure smaller components of the code can scale as they need to, without requiring the entire system to scale at the same pace.

In terms of security what do customers need to be weary of as Black Friday approaches?

With phishing attacks accounting for more that 17% of all security incidents (according to the Dimension Data Global Threat Intelligence Report) , one needs to be very careful of special Black Friday deals advertised via email. Even if you are redirected to a familiar looking online retailer, check the website address authenticity. Phishing scams may direct you to a legitimate website and then use a pop-up to gain your account information. Give a fake password. If you not sure if a site is authentic, don’t use your real password to sign in. If you enter a fake password and appear to be signed in, you’re likely on a phishing site.

What can African retailers take away from incorporating technology into their businesses?

With the ecommerce services avaible today, the barrier to entry into online retailing has dripped significantly. Most African retailer should augment their physical presence with an online option.

Under the theme Harnessing Digital Technology for Next-Level Customer Centred Retailing, DRF2019 will focus on how emerging technologies such as Ai, IoT, drones, digital payment solutions, new eCommerce models and mobility are disrupting the retail sector. This event will also delve into how to survive by harnessing new technology to improve both Customer Experience and Operational Efficiency.

A variety of professionals will visit #DigitalRetailForum looking for products and services that will help them increase productivity, reduce costs, attract more customers, improve customer experience, enhance security and sell more – whether they are small independent retailers or large retail groups.

To book your seat and be a part of this extraordinary event please visit: http://digitalretailforum.co.za/

By Neo Sesinye
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