South Africans and the rest of the world have witnessed unexpected hikes in the cost of living, as evidenced by record fuel prices and inflated costs elsewhere.
Because many customers are being forced to reconsider their purchasing patterns, businesses must continue to place a strong emphasis on consumer convenience and value.
Leaders from several industries share why they value convenience:
The convenience of delivery-as-a-service
On-demand retail is still in its early stages – even in developed markets – although it will grow into several verticals in the coming years. For example, South Africans have already seen pharmacies follow the lead of the food and grocery industries.
However, the larger online stores and brick-and- mortar retailers are likely to follow suit soon enough, but the greatest opportunity to scale lives with small e-commerce players and startups. In South Africa, these kinds of businesses will be crucial as the country looks to revive both its economy and employment statistics.
However, small online retailers are not able to provide on-demand delivery by themselves, as they generally lack the infrastructure and financing necessary to make it viable.
“That is where delivery-as-a-service (DaaS) comes in. At Orderin, we see DaaS as crucial to the next phase of South Africa’s online retail revolution. If small e-commerce players can provide convenient customer experiences on par with those of the big online players, then they can grow and thrive,” says Karmany Reddy, Head of Strategy to Operations and Marketing at Orderin.
“With our DaaS offering, we can equip small businesses with the technology and support they need to grow their businesses in ways that are flexible and scalable.”
Through its Software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, Orderin uses best-in-class AI and data analytics, which enables e-tailers to reach a bigger audience with convenience and ease, while also providing logistics and support to ensure that business owners can focus on the core aspects of their business.
The convenience of micro-savings
With FNB reporting that it takes on average only five days for the average middle-income consumer to spend as much as 80% of their monthly salary, South Africans are clearly struggling to get through the month, never mind saving. But there are platforms such as upnup that make saving easier.
“Instead of throwing spare change into your car’s cup holder in case you need to pay for parking, you can round up or add on to your transactions so that the extra cash goes into a linked investment account,” explains Tony Mallam, managing director of upnup.
“It’s a transaction that is happening anyway – why not make it work in your favour? This ‘set and forget’ approach to saving is an ideal way to put a bit away at a time when every bit of spare cash counts.”
Mallam adds that consumers are not interested in traditional banking models. “They want an online savings solution that gives them control over how much they save, and how these savings are invested, especially when times are tough.”
The convenience of the subscription economy
Today’s consumer is looking for convenience and flexibility from the products and services they use, says Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy.
“Consumers want instant gratification and ease, and they want access to the things they want, for as long or as little as they need it, preferably facilitated through their mobile phones and delivered to their homes pronto.
“Convenience has always been central to our offering. The rent-to-own model is about making products – in the case of Teljoy, appliances, consumer electronics and furniture – conveniently accessible without being locked in to a large purchase or fixed contract,” he says.
In the current age of transience and change, subscription is giving consumers the flexibility and freedom of choice to have access to what they need without the hassle of outright ownership.
“With rental, the burden of fixing or replacing the item is on the provider and not on the consumer. The consumer continues to enjoy access to the product, without the risk and responsibility that comes with ownership. It’s the ultimate minimalist way of life – eliminating ‘distractions’ to allow yourself the time and energy to focus on what matters most to you. Convenience, through access,” adds Hurvitz.
The convenience of online home services
SweepSouth is proof of a product that demonstrably improves life for both customers and home service providers. When founders Aisha Pandor and her husband Alen Ribic started the company in 2014, it was in response to their own need to hire a domestic worker in a hurry.
“For most people it’s a tricky and lengthy process to find the right person by word-of-mouth, then it’s uncomfortable and often arbitrary negotiating a price, and management of services and relationship on an ongoing basis can be onerous,” says Pandor.
“At the time, nothing existed that could help us find someone suitable quickly.” To meet what was clearly a gap in the market, the couple developed an online platform that takes all the effort out of the connection process and reduces any points of friction.
Clients are provided with a list of pre-vetted, trustworthy home service providers to choose from, and payment is made through the platform. Providers benefit, too, as they can find work opportunities in areas and at times that suit them, and overall earn higher than market rate.
Today, thousands of bookings pass though the platform per day, and SweepSouth has expanded their home services bouquet to include a plethora of other offerings, including gardeners, plumbers, electricians and builders.
The convenience of technology in travel
Head of Marketing and Communications at online booking platform Jurni, Tshepo Matlou says, “With limited budgets, we are seeing travellers starting to explore activities that won’t hit their pockets hard. This is why tourists now travel to places they haven’t been to before, like rural areas for instance.“
The convenience of technology in the travel space has also been highlighted further, according to Matlou. “Modern travellers have embraced the convenience of technology, as it continues to change every part of the world we live in.
“These customers are searching, booking and paying for their travel and tourism products online. This makes it necessary for businesses to connect with them online and so, technology has become a necessity for every business that intends to service travellers,” he adds.
Consider the consumer first
Businesses that anticipate their customers’ needs will win their support, so if you want to thrive in tough times, you must focus on providing the experience and convenience that today’s customers need.