Digital innovation is boosting SA franchise growth

Companies making their mark in the Fourth Industrial Revolution are those that understand value drivers such as data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, digitisation and e-commerce – and South African franchise operations are no different.

Recent information released by Mobicred reveals that online shopping in South Africa grew by 40% last year. Interestingly, the age group of 60-plus, which was averse to online shopping at first, grew by a staggering 90 per cent, and experts predict that over the next decade, e-commerce will become the number one driver of business growth. This indicates that franchisors and franchisees can no longer rely on traditional, business-as-usual ways to conduct business. Instead of seeing e-commerce as a threat, brands should look at the opportunities it presents and consider alternative delivery options, quicker turnaround times, slick exchange and return policies, and most importantly, accurate knowledge of stock availability to succeed.

South African franchises are embracing e-commerce

With COVID-19 significantly accelerating e-commerce adoption globally, South African franchises are also focusing on building their digital presence,. But how can business owners ensure their franchise will succeed on this digital journey?

‘Digital technology has enabled a rapid rise in e-commerce and alternative delivery models, and businesses that were quicker to adapt and evolve have been the most successful during this transition,’ says Karen Keylock, national franchise head for Nedbank Commercial Banking.

‘Businesses in the midst of transitioning must bear in mind that digital tools have to be adopted in a way that ensures clients continue to enjoy the great experience they associate with the brand and receive expert support when they need it.

Now more than ever, online customer experience can make or break a brand or retail outlet. So, it’s essential that all elements work together and complement each other, and that ordering services are streamlined and easy to navigate.’

A Deloitte report entitled Digital Commerce Acceleration: Increased online purchases present new opportunities for digital commerce players identifies several key factors that matter most to consumers when it comes to online shopping, including include affordable delivery fees, clear returns and refunds policies, a smooth checkout experience, and data protection.

Each of these should form part of the foundation of any digital commerce offering entering the South African online market, irrespective of target segment or category.

Platform economies enable quick, safe and hassle-free e-commerce options

‘Not every franchisor or franchisee may want to invest in a costly e-commerce store,’ says Keylock. ‘So, platform economies like Avo by Nedbank that allow one to cut right to the chase of selling products and accepting payments online are appealing, as they don’t come with the hassle and costs of e-commerce stores.’

Avo has received plaudits for bringing consumers and businesses together; accurately matching consumers’ lifestyle needs to product and service offerings through powerful artificial intelligence; and allowing safe and secure payments, all while providing bank-grade security. Avo has taken the power of selling into the homes of millions of citizens. Whether users need home services, to shop online for groceries, takeaways or great tech deals, or to search for the next family holiday, entertainment options or security solutions, Avo enables it all.

Digital innovations with the most bang for their buck

Keylock says that, besides e-commerce, many other available digital innovations make a big difference at the franchisor and franchisee level. ‘These include digital marketing tools and digital advertising techniques, such as geofencing that stretch your marketing budget, and loyalty and ordering apps to cut waiting time, increase revenue growth and expand the size of your market and customer base.

Modern customer relationship management systems make recruitment faster and more effective, while artificial intelligence, including facial recognition of employees and customers, can analyse customer shopping patterns and identify members of loyalty programmes to offer them tailored promotions. Innovative new payment methods such as contactless cards and mobile payments speed up and streamline payment process. Security is ensured by next-generation firewalls and cyber-security strategies, which protect POS, website and back-office systems from hackers,’ she says.

The list of digital innovations and how they can benefit a franchise operation is endless – and changes constantly. What doesn’t change is the need to accelerate the pace of innovation to gain a competitive advantage. Fortunately, there are valuable partners you can leverage for support, advice and expertise, and existing innovations available to leap into the digital innovation space.

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