“The Africa train has already left the station. You are either on it or you risk becoming irrelevant.” ~ GrowthAfrica.
We live in a fortuitous time full of rare opportunities in nearly every sector. This is due to several factors converging at once, including the rapid expansion of eCommerce and the development of AI-driven tech.
Some fear that
advanced technology will destroy industries like manufacturing, service, and
It’s true that these
industries and others will be affected.
But, we believe
they’ll be transformed, not ruined, by tech.
The Forecast for Business Growth in
on machine learning have made life more convenient throughout the world.
But, they really
level the playing field for entrepreneurs in developing nations, generating
interest and providing an unprecedented level of opportunity for startups and
In fact, six of the top 10 fastest growing economies
are located on the continent. Consumer spending is expected to increase to one
trillion dollars within the next year, and Africa’s urban populations spend
nearly half of their incomes on consumer goods.
That bodes well for
young entrepreneurs looking to expand into retail and related markets.
The digital revolution connects Africa with the outside
world. It also brings the rest of the world into our domain in a positive way
that benefits our emerging economies.
What better way to
meet the demands of an exploding, upwardly mobile population than through
Advancements That Are Revolutionizing Retail
Even a decade ago,
the introduction of AI, machine learning, and other advanced technologies
seemed like nothing more than science fiction.
Sure, we imagined
the possibilities for automation, but they were mainly limited to robotics and its impact
on the manufacturing and service sectors.
These days, we’re
seeing advanced technology transforming business, medicine, and finance in ways
that are surprising and exhilarating.
On a broader scale
that everyday people can experience are the implications for high-tech in
For some time, the
emphasis was on eCommerce as the shopping venue of the future. However, the
more tech becomes ingrained in society, the more people long for human touch.
The store of the future makes shopping more efficient and
personalized through technology, leaving people to provide much-needed
Imagine the shop of
the future, where customers can locate your store on their smartphone and
receive customized offers via an app as they browse the merchandise.
Sales associates are
then free to provide more attentive service that’s tailored toward the
The experience will
be guided by technology and personalized on a whole different level.
Service Isn’t the Only Way Tech Will Improve Retail
The Internet of
Things (IoT) is already making its mark in retail establishments, with an expected global value of $35 billion USD by the end of
IoT is all about network inter-connectivity, smart
devices, and extracting data in real-time rather than
relying solely on historical data analysis.
There are already
more than seven billion IoT devices being used today.
How is this
technology deployed in a retail environment?
It’s used for:
- Asset and inventory tracking that reduces
waste and prevents loss
- Managing supply chain and shipping logistics
with tech that monitors, adjusts, and implements quality control measures
- Monitoring customer satisfaction via sensors
that provide immediate feedback at checkout
- Predicting consumer trends and behavior
intuitively to refine the customer experience in real-time
Technology is also
being deployed to create a more unified
environment for retail chains and grocery stores.
management software can be used to configure and maintain scales, alarms, and
POS systems, and then automatically start or shut them down at each location.
Because the tech is
built on AI, scalability is automatic
conserves resources and controls costs. Any system errors can be noted in
real-time, activating immediate alerts and initiating repairs remotely.
When staff has less on-the-spot troubleshooting and
routine maintenance to worry about, they have more time for customer care.
that once took months can be completed within days. That eliminates costs associated with business disruption and extensive
The Future of Tech In Africa
There are specific
trends that will improve the state of the retail industry on the continent from
2019 and beyond, including cybersecurity.
Each is designed to
make the rest of the world take notice.
Leveraging Mobile First
and businesses rely heavily on mobile use. In fact, the rise of mobile devices
has led to a 460%
increase in internet access and use in Mali alone.
information at our fingertips, African consumers are raising expectations
surrounding their buyer’s journey and customer satisfaction.
This also provides
e-tailers and traditional retailers with more platforms for sales and
marketing. Mobile apps add value to customer service.
Using local SEO and responsive web design increases
visibility and helps build your brand.
will also improve your search engine
ranking by complying with Google’s new policy of mobile-first indexing.
Alternative Payment Methods
Everyday commerce is
still conducted mostly with cash and bank cards, and that will remain dominant
in the foreseeable future.
But, embracing alternative currencies like
crypto will eliminate some of the concerns with cash-on-hand and increase
the number of transactions that are successfully completed.
Cost for Newer Technologies
become more abundant and plentiful, the cost of acquiring them becomes less of
This will permit an explosion of borderless commerce
and allow more local merchants to get into the game.
New platforms will
also be created.
Think about concepts
like omnichannel marketing and eCommerce
clusters that act as hubs selling multiple brands.
Blockchain and the
introduction of 5Gwill change the
game even more.
Ready to Become the Future of Retail?
In addition to
becoming a force on the global marketplace, African nations have among the
youngest populations of any other developing countries.
The combination of innovation driven by new ideas and fresh
technologies will provide the foundation for today’s urban African centers
to lead the way as we move farther into the 21st century.