Your Success in the Retail Market

How to Maximise Your Success in the Retail Market

How to Maximise Your Success in the Retail Market - Image.jpg

Retail is one of the most important sectors in the South African economy, accounting for more than 15 per cent of the country’s GDP. The country is considered a mature retail market with an established formal shopping culture and international exposure, but it’s not without its challenges.

For example, a 2019 report published by Broll Property claims that increased competition is one of the most defining factors of the retail industry in South Africa. Rising utilities and operational expenses are adding pressure on many retail businesses, and so is the ever-changing consumer habits and expectations.

What this means is that although the conditions for success exist, if you are a retail business owner, you need to stay on top of the game and attract and retain customers in a way that builds loyalty and differentiates you from your competitors. In this article we discuss the top 5 strategies you can use to keep your retail business going from strength to strength.

Know your customer

Convenience and quality are the main driving factors for South African shoppers, so your sales and advertising strategies should focus on delivering that. 

It’s also important to never stop gathering feedback about what your customers want and to keep researching the market, so you’re better prepared to deal with changes in customer behaviour, anticipate their needs, and meet their expectations. Moreover, you should focus on offering value, as this can set you apart from the competition. To do this, you can experiment with loyalty programmes, coupons and discounts, or offer home delivery. 

Build a strong brand image

Develop and a distinctive brand image making sure your customers can identify with it. Brand building is an ongoing effort that requires attention to the following aspects:

Buyer persona:

Who is your audience – You’ll need to create a buyer persona to work this out in detail.

What’s your mission / values / message and how are you going to align this with your customers’ needs.

Develop a brand voice that suits your audience. You may want your voice to be informal, authoritative, conversational, etc.

Make sure your brand stands out in all your communications (emails, in-store experience, advertising, social media, etc.). 

Build and expand your online presence

A 2019 report on the state of retail in South Africa shows that e-commerce now accounts for 1.4 per cent of the country’s total retail industry. While this figure may seem small, it’s only expected to keep growing. Between 2018 and 2019 alone, online retail grew by 25 per cent, and by 2021, it’s estimated that more than 25 million South Africans will be shopping online. 

All over the world, consumers are choosing to shop online or at least to be given that option as part of the overall experience. Some may want to browse your online store to get an idea of the goods on offer, then visit your physical store to make the purchase. Whatever the case, it’s important to give your customers the choice to shop using their preferred channel.

Moreover, online platforms aren’t only a sales channel, but also an alternative way of managing your customer service. For example, you can use your social media profile to handle questions and complaints, delivering a more direct and responsive approach that can shape customers’ preferences and build loyalty.

The in-store experience

For your retail business to thrive, you must take customer service to a new level and focus on in-store experiences. When customers have the choice to shop online from the comfort of their own homes, why would they make the effort to visit a store? What kind of experience would motivate them to visit your retail location?

You may want to incorporate some of the fastest-growing retail trends, like personalisation, which is ensuring that everything in your shop is about what your customers want, from the layout to the product offer.

Also, consider bringing your brand and the in-store experience close to your customers, for example by creating events during special times of the year, or by opening up pop-up shops. These are becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, as they allow retailers to test new markets without making large financial commitments – and in the process, bringing their products right where their customers are.

By following these suggestions, you’ll be better positioned to successfully navigate the ever-changing retail landscape in South Africa, and to grow your business in a sustainable way.

By Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Director for, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses. 

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