‘What’s next in the African retail landscape?’ Let’s get some disclaimers out of the way. Bad infrastructure? Yep. Below global average internet penetration? For sure. Poor service delivery? You get the point. But these metrics only tell half the story. In the face of these issues comes ingenious innovations which often give the West a run for its money.
Let’s also not forget that Africa was never dealt a fair hand to begin with. The continent has struggled with extracting value from the globe’s ‘free’ markets and supply chains, despite the fact that natural resources or ideas were never an issue domestically. Take chocolate – 75% of the world’s cocoa production comes from Africa and yet, it only receives 5% of the USD 100 billion annual revenue. Lately, this lag has forced local brands to sit up and consider new ways to flip the script.
In the race to catch up with the rest of the retail world, highly-expectant, globally-aware African consumers will see brands cater to them in ways previously unimaginable. As local companies utilize online and offline channels, Africa is primed to educate the rest of the world about the ultimate retail experience.
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If you’ve read our Global Future of Retail report, you’ll know that this publication is not about matter-of-fact macro-trends on the state of African retail. There are already countless reports out there that capture the region’s economic growth rates, e-commerce penetration, experiential retail, millennials’ shopping habits – the list goes on.
Instead, we are highlighting the five tactical opportunities you can tap into, to fuel your next winning retail innovation. These trends point out where shopper expectations are headed to, and what they will start demanding from you.
1. MODERN MARKETPLACES
E-commerce Africanized = retail e-clusters.
2. DELIVERY DELIGHT
How logistics solutions will leapfrog lagging infrastructure.
3. PROUDLY AFRICAN
As the retail economy roars, its ‘Africanness’ roars too!
4. BEST BEHAVIOR BRANDS
In 2018, every retail brand must ooze positivity.
5. TOUCHPOINT RELEVANCE
Retail in the right channel and the right context.
Ready to dive right in? Good luck!
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SKY.GARDEN — E-commerce platform provides opportunities for local traders - February 2018 saw Kenya-based e-commerce startup Sky.Garden raise USD 1.2 million in funding. Sky.Garden is a mobile software service platform that allows small business and informal traders from across Africa to sell their products online. Since its launch in Q4 2017, Sky.Garden has over 3,000 registered sellers with over 23,000 products on sale.
INTELWORLD — Marketplace provides a global platform for Ugandan merchants - Xente is an online marketplace developed by Uganda-based Intelworld. The marketplace features over 50 Ugandan merchants selling digital products such as cell phone credit and TV subscriptions. Users from across the world can shop, pay bills, buy tickets and search for discounts. Payments can be made by credit card, mobile money or bitcoin, with the option to pay later or in instalments. In Q3 2018, Xente announced plans to expand to include Ugandan merchants who sell physical products.
HMIZATE — E-commerce site expands into financial services - May 2018 saw Morocco-based e-commerce platform Hmizate expand into fintech with the launch of HmizatePay: a mobile commerce and payment platform. Via the platform, customers can create an e-wallet that can be used to pay for purchases and receive cashback and rewards. According to the brand, HmizatePay is designed to function as a one-stop shop for online payment needs.
JUMIA — One-stop shop e-payment app launches - March 2018 saw Nigeria-based e-commerce platform Jumia launch Jumia One: an Android app enabling customers to complete all online transactions. Described by Jumia as a one-stop shop for all e-payments, users can pay bills, pay for Uber, purchase data or pay church offerings. Customers will also have access to other Jumia services where they can order food online, buy clothes and book flights, from selected third-party merchants.
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Mobar — App delivers alcohol in less than one hour - Q4 2017 saw the launch of MoBar: a delivery service connecting customers with distributors in Kenya. Via the service, customers can order from local businesses, with guaranteed courier delivery within one hour. MoBar initially partnered with Jeyfine Wines to deliver alcohol; the brand plan to develop further partnerships and offer different products in the future. As of April 2018, MoBar had a monthly user base of 1,500 people and earned approximately KES 3.5million (USD 35,000) in revenue.
Zulzi — South African delivery service expands after gaining 10,000 subscribers - January 2018 saw delivery service Zulzi announce plans to expand from Johannesburg to Cape Town Durban and Pretoria after successfully gaining 10,000 subscribers. Initially, the service delivered textbooks and gadgets to students within one hour but was expanded to include groceries, pharmacy items and alcohol. Zulzi has partnered with shops (who pay 7 – 15% commission per order) as well as packaging companies who offer discounts and advertise via the platform.
Sokowatch — Kenyan mobile delivery network keeps small businesses stocked - Sokowatch is a Kenyan mobile delivery network for small businesses. Small stores can place orders via SMS and receive products from larger multinationals within 24 hours using Sokowatch’s system that notifies nearby delivery agents. Sokowatch first launched in 2013, with plans to expand to Mombasa in Q3 2018.
Tupuca — Food delivery service helps users avoid lunchtime traffic - Tupuca is a food delivery service based in Angola that helps customers avoid lunchtime traffic by delivering meals straight to the office. Drivers provide their own motorbikes and are provided with backpacks and cellphones, taking a cut of the delivery fee. Since launching in 2015, orders placed via the app have increased from 400 to 11,000 per month and, as of May 2018, Tupuca had been downloaded more than 30,000 times.
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Palace travel — Travel agency gives Africans a chance to discover their ancestry - In August 2019, US-based travel agency Palace Travel will host a tour 10-day of Ghana West. Aimed at Ghanaian descendants of those formerly enslaved, the tour will enable people take part in a number of cultural activities – including being met by Ghana’s government representatives with a proclamation recognizing participants as an African Diaspora, and ceremony in which travelers will be given their African names. The trip will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first recorded landing of a slave ship in Virginia. Prices start at USD 4,895.
Talata — Interior design brand spotlights Egyptian aesthetic - Talata, formed by three friends from Egypt, held its Dubai pop-up in May 2018. The UAE-based home brand offers home furnishings and an interior design service, with products made by hand in Egypt, and seeks to represent an Egyptian aesthetic. The ‘affordable luxury’ company also partners with up-and-coming designers, in Egypt and other countries across the Middle East.
Ozidu House — Exhibition and retail event showcases historic photos from colonial Nigeria - In May 2018, Nigeria-based Ozidu House hosted an exhibition of historic photographs and drawings from the region’s colonial era. Visitors could also purchase hand-made jewellery, rugs, baskets and homewares from luxury ethnic accessories retailer Ozoza Lifestyle and attend talks about colonization and its impact on Nigeria and Nigerian art. Other events explored the role of art and artists in Nigerian society.
Mobius Motors — African automaker releases second model - In 2018, Mobius Motors will launch its second SUV since the automaker’s first was released in 2014. The Nairobi-based brand’s vehicles are designed to handle the unpaved roads that predominate Africa, and are produced in Kenya, with a ‘no-frills’ aesthetic. The vehicles are also designed to be affordable, with prices starting at USD 12,500.
Shoprite — Supermarket offers employees accredited training and mentorship - April 2018 saw Shoprite launch an initiative to upskill over 4,000 employees. Accredited assistant chef training courses were offered to the South African food retailer’s employees working in bakeries, delis and fish departments, with the course lasting four months with ongoing mentorship. Employees were encouraged to use their new skills to provide more varied offers – for example preparing their own relishes which could then be sold in store.
Pizza Hut — Pizza Hut partners with READ to deliver literacy boxes in South Africa - April 2018 saw The Pizza Hut African Literacy Project launch in Cape Town. Collaborating with the educational trust READ, the pizza franchise aims to improve literacy amongst children in Africa. The 2018 launch event was held at the Kloof Street Pizza Hut franchise where children were treated to pizza and Red Reading Boxes. The ‘Slice of Africa’ team will deliver reading boxes to 12 countries across Africa in Q3 2018. The Literacy Project launched in 2016; as of 2018 over 275,000 books have been distributed across the US, Brazil, Canada and South Africa.
Checkers — Supermarket’s garden set giveaway encourages families to spend time together - April 2018 saw South African supermarket Checkers launch a campaign to encourage families to spend time outside together. For every ZAR 150 (USD 11) spent in store, customers were offered Little Garden seeding kits, with 24 different seed packs to collect – including vegetables, flowers and herbs. Each kit included a soil pod, a biodegradable pot, and seed paper. Checkers also sold Little Garden merchandise, such as mini garden tools and gloves.
Mastercard — Bank donates meals when customers use contactless payments at supermarkets - MasterCard has partnered with supermarket chain Pick n Pay and charity FoodForward South Africa to donate 1.2 million meals to South Africans. For any customers using contactless payments at Pick n Pay stores between May and July 2018, Mastercard donated one meal to someone in need. The initiative was part of Mastercard’s global 100 Million Meals program.
Gauteng Health Department — Drugs dispensed via ATM interface - March 2018 saw the introduction of South Africa’s first ATM pharmacy. Created by the Gauteng Health Department, the free ATM dispenses repeat medication for patients with chronic illnesses. Users are able to interact with pharmacists, via a Skype-like interface, and receive their medication within three minutes.
Haraqisha — Supermarket partners with local stores to simplify shopping - February 2018 saw the launch of Haraqisha (Swahili for ‘hurry up’): an online supermarket based in Kenya. Partnering with local stores, Haraqisha lists available stock on a mobile app, customers chose the goods they want and the local store will prepare orders for delivery or collection. Via partnerships with local couriers, deliveries can be made within two hours and tracked in real time. Haraqisha was initially available in Nairobi.
Safaricom — App allows customers to send and receive money while they chat - April 2018 saw the beta launch of Bonga (‘to chat’ in colloquial Swahili): a social messaging platform created by Kenyan telco Safaricom and integrated with global money transfer app, M-Pesa. Bonga enables users to send, receive and request money while they chat (without leaving the app) and check their M-Pesa balance. As of April 2018, Safaricom had almost 30 million subscribers.
Konga — Etailer helps merchants service customers through WhatsApp - Nigeria-based e-tailer Konga added a WhatsApp functionality, enabling its merchants to stay in contact with customers via the messaging service, in October 2017. The WhatsApp button on sellers’ webpages allows them to handle issues, deliveries, and returns with potential and existing customers. The goal of the feature, which facilitates pre- and post-sale contact, is to help merchants avoid potential issues with customers and maintain stronger relationships with them.
The five trends featured here present five key new directions in the future of retail. Of course, these five trends represent just a small fraction of the trends currently reshaping the consumer landscape.
At TrendWatching, we’re obsessed with those trends. And we’ve been tracking them across the globe and in 16 B2C industries for longer than we care to remember.
Clients of our Premium Service have access to our entire Trend Framework, built around the 16 mega-trends that define modern consumerism. Beneath those sit 120+ actionable trends, all illustrated with 20,000+ hand-curated, best practice innovations. Plus a host of simple, powerful ideation tools to help turn trends into concrete new ideas.
It’s an entire trend department ready to go. If you’re serious about trends, it’s a no-brainer.
We’ve stressed this all along but just in case you missed it: these trends are opportunities. Opportunities to create your next retail product, service, platform, app, experience, or business model. Opportunities to delight existing consumers and win new ones.
That means they’re useless if you don’t act.
But you don’t have to start with a two-day ideation session, a week-long hackathon, or a pitch to the CEO (that can all come later). Here’s a minimum viable first step. Just take a single innovation example featured here back to your team and ask one simple question: when people see this, what will they start to expect from us?
That question encapsulates everything that’s important about Trend-Driven Innovation. That is, that game-changing innovations – such as those featured in this report – create new customer expectations. That those expectations once created will spread, and eventually find you. And that if you can see those expectations coming in advance and innovate to meet them, you can win!
So start with one innovation and a simple question. Once the debate is raging, hit them with some trend theory and win some kudos. Do it today!
And good luck :)
This Trend Briefing has many hands on it. A huge thanks to the team that pulled this together with such positivity and enthusiasm, especially: Henry Mason, Vicki Loomes, Alida Urban, Vicky Kim and Nikki Ritmeijer, and also Harry Metzger, Harvey Gomez, Jonathan Herbst, Lisa Feierstein, and Tash Cohen. THANK YOU!