There’s been a lot of discussion about the impact of on-line shopping replacing the physical store space. In South Africa it’s a slow process that quite frankly seems to be very sluggish taking off. And that doesn’t surprise me. Although Amazon.Com is amongst the world’s largest e-commerce companies it has still to show a significant R.O.I. It’s my belief that people continue to prefer to enjoy a more tactile experience when shopping. Feel the cloth, try on the look, test the make-up, even taste and smell the foodstuffs.

I have been looking at the world’s top 10 retailers by turnover and find that as well as being household names most of them are innovators too: –

1. Walmart operating in 28 countries

2. Cost Co operating in 10 countries

3. Kroger operating in the US only

4. Schwarz operating in 26 countries

5. Tesco operating in 13 countries

6. Carrefour operating in 34 countries

7. Aldi operating in 17 countries

8. Metro operating in 32 countries

9. Home Depot operating in 4 countries

10. Walgreen Boots operating in 2 countries

And what of their innovations? Walmart’s supply chain process is recognised as world beating. It is based on 3 pillars; distribution practices, operating its own fleet of trucks and technology. Costco invented the concept of the warehouse club where members benefit from huge buying power and an entrepreneurial spirit. Today, along with its massive range it offers merchant accounts, banking and financial planning, web development and group health plans, so there is often little need for members to venture anywhere else. Kroger has installed a technology into 2,300 stores across US which has cut average time to be served at their check out points down to less than 30 seconds from 4 minutes. The technology uses infrared sensors and predictive analytics to provide store managers with real-time data to make sure cash registers are open when customers need them. For the rest some have been responsible for roof top garden projects, growing fresh produce on rooftops of stores and selling it on to customers. Can there be any fresher? Another has introduced high-tech robots to retrieve shoes from stock shelves and offer them for fitting. Thereis a virtual fitting room whereby you can see how a look works for you without removing a single item of your clothing and so the list goes on.

Yet despite all of these innovations, a recent international study has shown that many retailers pay too much for their IT products. The most extreme example of excessive margins is regularly found on those lower volume, spontaneous, ‘as and when’ purchases. These are typically unplanned purchases consisting of items such as memory sticks, power adapters and cables.

Today’s procurement managers don’t have endless amounts of time to talk to multiple suppliers to find the best price. What they need is for there to be greater transparency between suppliers and customers. Perhaps a brokerage that does the leg work for them. That is certainly our approach at FDM when it comes to sourcing hardware, installing it and managing content. And we keep abreast of the latest trends in audio technology.

We are always happy to talk to clients about systems and products that can save them money.

Have a joyous July!

About the author: Dalene Haugh