“Digital dynamism”: A new dawn for Retailers
Like their international counterparts, South African retailers would traditionally run specials where discounts or ‘two for the price of one’ offers are given for a period of between a few days and a few weeks, normally relating to a particular season or event (like the oncoming winter, or Valentines’ Day approaching, or an oversupply in certain fresh produce) – with the goal to attract bursts of retail activity, accelerate stock turnover, and to clear unwanted inventory.
But these cyclical, long lead-time strategies are soon to be a relic of the past. We’re now on the cusp of an era where Retailers will dynamically adjust prices in real-time, dynamically reconfigure and personalise Loyalty programme, and dynamically adjust their supply-chain operations to handle new customer demand.
The common thread, as you may have noticed, is ‘dynamism’. Physical retailers are rapidly extending into a multichannel world, increasingly integrating the experiences and finding ways to leverage the strengths of each channel, getting them to work in harmony. This digital integration is opening up a new world of Retail opportunities:
With online price-check services and the ease of buying similar products from anywhere in the world, the digital era brings an increased scrutiny on retailers. By using systems that continually scan competitors’ digital stores, a retailer will be able to dynamically set prices to always under-cut their peers.
Dynamic pricing engines also incorporate more subtle factors like price elasticity modules, KVI modules (the extent to which a product affects overall consumer price perception of the retailer) and omni-channel modules (to coordinate pricing across each touch point).
Dynamically optimise perishable inventory
Almost every kind of retail player has to deal with the concept of perishable inventory. It may be the last remaining seats on a plane flight, the fresh food or bakery products that need to be sold before the end of the day, the excess fuel that refineries produce, or electronics goods that slowly depreciate in value.
By using Analytics to better understand these margins, retailers can eliminate waste and reduce working capital by sourcing the right quantities of goods at the right time. Here, dynamic pricing can also be smartly used to trim down perishable inventory as far as possible.
Dynamism in Loyalty programmes
As retailers build richer datasets about their customers, the algorithms that govern Loyalty programmes can become far more personalised and reactive to the real-time demands of both the customer and the store. So, if a consumer indicates an interest in getting fit and starts buying numerous sports and athletic goods, the retailer can integrate fitness into her personalised Loyalty programme.
On the other hand, if a retailer is struggling to move a large quantity of electric fans, as the summer months fade, they can be rapidly incorporated into many customers’ Loyalty programmes to boost sales and overcome the perishable inventory problem outlined above.
Retailers are quickly shifting from the mass advertising published in the Sunday papers, towards more digitised, more personalised, and definitely more dynamic marketing. Tomorrow’s winning retailers will take advantage of increasingly sophisticated algorithms and predictive modelling that ingests transactional data, loyalty programme data, as well as digital media trends (such as the hottest topics on social media).
Dynamism in the check-out
The actual point-of-purchase is one of the most defining moments in any retail experience. It’s normally the final engagement that you have with the store and its staff, and it tends to leave a lasting impression. It’s here that digital can help to reduce friction, with new digital capabilities like contactless payments, self-checkout, checkouts by roaming staff armed with tablets or smartphones.
In fact, the Digital revolution has made the checkout experience far more dynamic than that. Now, the point of purchase has been diffused across a myriad of online and mobile touch points, payment gateways, and soon even as embedded transactional features within popular social networks.
Emerging fields like cognitive learning and artificial intelligence will only serve to make this ‘digital dynamism’ more central to Retail executives’ strategies in the future. Shoppers will demand ever-higher levels of personalisation, service, choice and security. Catering for all these needs, for every shopper that engages with the retailer, across every touch point, will make the Retail game an extremely dynamic one in the years to come.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.