Yet despite all of
this, food retail is managing to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to
service delivery and customer satisfaction, as the results of the recent Ask
Afrika Orange Index Awards can attest. Now in its 16th year the 2017/2018
Awards are a benchmark that celebrates which category winners are “doing right”
to tap into customers’ needs and maintain excellent service levels.

“The customer services industry is vital to the South African economy. It
drives 60% of GDP, accounts for 63% of employment and 74% of capital
formation,” said Ask Afrika’s CEO Andrea Gevers. “But because it is a people
business it is difficult to pin down. Retailers are faced with a constantly
moving target.” 

“The food retail industry is one that has consistently performed across the
benchmark over the past five years. Leaders in the food retail industry have
been those that have managed to adapt their product offering by looking at
international trends and analysing the local market from the consumers’ point
of view to adapt their product offerings.” 

How industry
leaders are keeping up with consumer trends

Ask Afrika’s top three in the food industry category for 2017/2018 are: 1)
Woolworths Food; 2) Food Lovers Market and 3) Checkers. Here are some of the
ways these retailers are keeping up with consumer trends.

Aside from leading the Orange Index’s food retail category, Woolworths
 was the overall winner of the Awards across all private sector
service categories. The company has maintained its high standards since it was
founded in 1931 by always staying one step ahead. They introduced staff
benefits and sell-by dates to South Africa and continue to innovate to this

For 2017/2018 Ask Afrika identified an expectation from customers that the
brands they follow should help to create a sense of meaning in their lives.
“Consumers are becoming more critical of brands than they are of themselves.
They expect the companies to maintain high ethical values and to support their
attempts at showcasing their ‘desirable lifestyles’ on social media,” said Ask
Afrika’s managing director Sarina de Beer. “Retail brands build trust among
consumers by being about more than just traders. They need to stand for

Woolworths Food has achieved this through a number of initiatives including
its Good Business Journey, which promises to care
for the environment and contribute to needy communities. This includes ethical
sourcing from sustainable fisheries, plantations and farms that treat their
workers fairly. 

Another trend is an increasing consumer desire for health and beauty.
Woolworths Foods’ Healthy Living Initiative taps right into this by sending out
mailers with health advice and recipes, together with shopping lists and email
access to a dietician for queries. 

Food Lovers Market has always been about good pricing and
salt-of-the-earth values. What started with an in-house fruit and vegetable
chopping service has blossomed to incorporate ever-increasing convenience – not
something you would particularly expect from a fruit and veg store. The Orange
Index has identified that consumers want what they want, how they want it and
when they want it and that technology is helping retailers to meet that demand.

Food Lovers Market stepped up to the plate by extending its range to include meats,
fish, cheeses and even alcohol. The company also started Fresh Stop at Caltex
outlets in 2009. From October this year, the retailer has partnered with UberEats, to bring healthy ingredients
straight to the consumer’s front door. The app can now be used to order meal
kits comprising fresh ingredients and easy to follow recipes. 

Checkers has also taken up the mantle when it comes to ultimate
convenience with the recent addition of pre-prepared convenience food
with Moneyweb reporting in October that the
retailer had recently launched 150 new convenience products, with 100 in
development. To differentiate itself from its competitors, Checkers focussed on
children’s meals and snacks developed by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and his daughter, Matilda. It
has also partnered with UberEats to provide
reasonably priced delivery of produce, groceries, pre-prepared meals, braai
packs and alcohol. 

Insight and evolution
go hand in hand

As leaders in the customer service space have shown it is vital for every
member of staff from boardroom executives to cashiers to place customer
experience at the fore, particularly with regards to convenience. Marketing
these days relies on a multidisciplinary approach that combines statistical
intellect with psychological perceptiveness, business acumen and industry

Source: Bizcommunity