Wednesday, 07 December 2016 08:49

Foschini Group innovates in e-commerce space

Retail giant The Foschini Group (TFG) is trialling a ground-breaking new delivery service for its products being sold online. Called ‘Deliver 2 Me’, it uses a geolocation tracking system – similar to that used by smartphone tracking systems or the Uber taxi app – to enable customers to pinpoint exactly where they want their purchases to be delivered. The ‘Deliver 2 Me’ system sends an SMS to a customer when their online order is ready for delivery and the client then selects a ‘Deliver Now’ option that enables the order to be delivered to the customer’s location, typically within three hours. The location need not be the client’s home or work address, but can be wherever they happen to be located at the time. TFG is offering the service in conjunction with WumDrop, an app-based courier service that operates in much the same way as Uber. The service is currently being trialled in Cape Town, but will go live in other cities in South Africa in the early part of 2017. Traditional retailers like TFG are facing increased competition from online retailers in SA and are now moving rapidly to counter the growing threat. After a slow start, fashion retailing is one of the sectors that is moving increasingly online
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Brands are increasingly turning to social media and online ‘brand friends’ to help in the development of new products. The strategy, called co-creation, harnesses the wisdom and innovation of crowds, the ‘IMM Journal of Strategic Marketing’ reports in its August-September 2016 issue. Recently social media fans of a beer brand in Argentina called Quilmes created a plastic cup that fits on top of a beer can and becomes a handy peanut holder. The company was so impressed with this viral fan-created concept that it launched its own limited-edition beer with built-in peanut holder and bag of nuts. In another example, a few years ago the international ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s created a new flavour called Fairly Nuts based on Internet users’ input. Fairly Nuts uses caramel ice cream with praline almond clusters and caramel swirls – all sourced from Fair Trade-certified suppliers. It came about as a result of a Ben & Jerry’s global marketing campaign called ‘Do the world a flavour’, whose aim was to raise awareness for fair trade ingredients by challenging customers to invent their own flavour of ice cream using only ethically sourced items. In all, nearly 100 000 flavour suggestions were received from Internet users. According to co-founder, Ben Cohen, crowdsourcing and co-creation offers an opportunity for fans to participate and create fun around the brand. There’s even been a crowdsourced car design. Fiat executives in Brazil launched a project called Fiat Mio (‘My Fiat’ in English) which set out to design a concept car using a collaborative process. More than 17 000 people drawn from 160 nationalities participated in the project over a 15-month period. A prototype car was built using many of the ideas submitted and the Mio was displayed at the São Paulo Auto Show in the country’s largest city.
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As the digital world changes the way consumers buy cars, the world’s auto brands are looking for new and innovative ways to engage with likely customers. Hyundai in Britain says that three in five potential buyers are turning to digital research, with many watching ‘car tour’ videos on YouTube as they seek to avoid the high-pressure selling environment in car dealerships. However, most content is highly technical and difficult to understand. Latching onto Albert Einstein’s famed observation that “If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself”, the brand has produced a series of videos in which a salesperson gives children a tour of each vehicle and explains the key features in language they understand. “It’s clear across the automotive industry that the role of the Internet, and specifically social media, is beginning to replace some of those early visits to a local dealership to fact-find. We are seeing fewer customers coming into the dealerships than before, but those who are visiting us are much more aware and knowledgeable about our cars than ever before,” says Adam Nickson, Head of Brand Strategy and Communications at Hyundai Motor UK. “With the Kids Car Tours series, we will provide that critical product information to customers at key moments in their purchase journey. But rather than the functional feature based films we have seen many times before, we have taken a new approach – letting children understand the simple benefits for themselves and replaying them back to us.” Global research published last year by management consultancy Accenture showed that 75% of drivers polled would consider conducting the entire car-buying process online – including financing, price negotiation, back office paperwork and home delivery.
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Tuesday, 30 June 2015 22:00

Facebook seeks more African advertising

Facebook has announced the opening of its first African office as it seeks to continue growing the social network’s footprint on the continent and take advantage of the advertising and commercial opportunities presented by the ever-increasing number of Africans who are using the network.

The office is located in Johannesburg but will focus on the entire sub-Saharan African region, which a special emphasis on the key markets of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. Facebook says it is enlisting the help of governments, telecom operators, agencies and other stakeholders to help drive the effort. 

Given that there are already 120-million African-based users and the numbers are likely to continue climbing as more people become connected, the potential for advertising is huge. However, marketers wishing to take advantage of this will need to optimise their advertising strategies for mobile devices as this remains the main method of connecting to the Internet for most Africans. Feature-rich, video-heavy marketing messages may remain problematic in the short term, as data costs on the continent remain high and connectivity can be unreliable outside the major urban centres. 

However, this situation is expected to improve over time and the company says it expects the cost of data services to decrease. It also anticipates that increasing numbers of people will upgrade from basic feature phones to smartphones that are capable of running Facebook’s full mobile app. 

“We are committed to creating solutions tailored to people [and] businesses specifically for African markets,” said Ari Kesisoglu, Regional Director for Facebook in the Middle East and Africa, in a media statement. 

“Our priority for the next few months is to continue the work we are already doing with some clients in this region. We will work more closely with businesses and agencies to understand the challenges, so that we can build solutions that help grow their business.”

The new African sales team will be led by Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke, a prominent figure on the South African and African advertising scene. She was previously chairperson of Ogilvy South Africa and the only African representative of the board of Ogilvy Worldwide.

Although the aim of the new office is the increase Facebook’s advertising opportunities in Africa, there is already a notable advertising base on which to build. “Facebook now has over 1,5-million active advertisers from around the world, and a growing number of them come from Africa,” Aidan Baigrie, Facebook’s Client Partner for sub-Saharan Africa, said in an interview with Strategic Marketing Africa’, the publication of the African Marketing Confederation, earlier this year. “In the larger African countries we have attracted a number of big financial services, media and retail brands as customers. But we are also seeing many small- and medium-sized businesses use Facebook as a key channel to build their businesses.”

In tandem with its efforts to attract more advertisers based on the continent, the social media platform is also working to continue building the number of individual users it has in Africa. One of its major initiatives is ‘Internet.org’, which provides basic, free Internet access via a mobile app. The app is now available in Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, with plans to extend its reach to other local markets.

 

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As companies rush to ramp up their online strategies and increase content marketing, they need to be cautious about creating excessive online ‘clutter’ and irrelevant content, a senior marketer has warned.

Speaking at an international digital conference in November, European Online Director at Coca-Cola, David Martin, said brands should treat their virtual world as they would their physical stores: clean and without clutter. “I think sometimes we need to reflect on the fact that just because it’s a virtual world, doesn’t mean we need to fill it with rubbish,” he is quoted as saying by ‘Marketing Week’ magazine. “By all means find ways of [publishing] relevant content as and when customers are looking for it. What they want is easy and simple solutions.”

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