How African Shop Owners Can Embrace the Digital Era

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In the last century, there has been a huge shift ‘from bricks to clicks’. Whereas most shop owners used to get their income from a brick-and-mortar store, with sales representatives assisting customers in person, many customers are now favoring online shopping and the digital customer service that accompanies it.

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In order to get with the times and embrace the digital era, shop owners need to integrate their offline stores with an online presence – offering digital-friendly services to customers who are active on the web and on mobile devices.

Here are five crucial steps African shop owners should take to integrate digital solutions and drive sales:

1. Provide strong in-store Wi-Fi

Offering  in-store Wi-Fi is a great way to cater to your customers needs and encourage social engagement.

For example, you can encourage your customers to post content from your store on social media by offering incentives.  You could run a promotion for customers to take pictures with your products in your store and post them online, making them eligible for a special discount. Make sure they include your personal hashtags and location tag to raise brand awareness.

Providing strong in-store WiFi shows that you care about the overall customer experience.  In today’s digital era, customers browse the internet while shopping in-store to research and compare prices in real time. Offering WiFi will show that you appreciate your customers and want to accommodate their ideal in-store shopping experience.

2. Use digital payment solutions

While cash may have been the preferred payment method of the past, now, more than ever, customers expect a wide range of payment solutions in brick-and-mortar stores. Offering multiple payment methods, including mobile payments, increases customer satisfaction - as customers can always choose their preferred method. Some methods, like mobile money, are particularly suited to the unbanked African population that has no access to formal financial services.

The customer experience is greatly improved when a shop owner chooses to work with a PSP that offers an integrated payment solution. The transaction process becomes easy and quick, no matter what payment method is used, leaving customers happy with the seamless purchase process. In addition, multicurrency payments become easy.

Using a PCI DSS Level 1 certified PSP ensures maximum security, keeping your customers’ card information safe, increasing their confidence in your store and reducing your risk of fraud at the same time. An ideal solution will:

  1. Accept all payment types including credit cards, mobile wallets, mobile money, and bank transfers. Some PSPs even allow for payments using QR codes.
  2. Accept all currencies so you don’t lose any customers
  3. Be PCI DSS Level 1 certified for maximum security
  4. Use a mobile payment app – so you can accept payments anytime, anywhere through a mobile point of sale device (mPOS). With an mPOS, retailers can engage and interact with customers easily, offering wireless payments, cross-border payments, and more.

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3. Introduce self-checkout

Many grocery stores throughout the world have introduced self-checkouts, where customers can scan the barcodes on their items themselves and check out without the need for a cashier. This greatly reduces check-out times, leaving customers more satisfied. Of course, it decreases the number of staff you need to serve customers too. These self-checkout counters can be designed to work with multiple payment methods also, and are interactive with a touch screen interface that is familiar and enjoyable for mobile phone users.

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A Self Service Checkout in UK supermarket Sainsbury’s (Source: Wikipedia)

4. Create a shopping app

Shopping apps can be used to inform in-store customers about deals tailored to their interests. For example, customers in the USA who have the Shopkick app will be alerted about deals and recommended items when they enter a Target store. They will also be able to earn special points called ‘kicks’ that can later be converted into gift card credit. Apps like these can help you reach the customers who are most interested in your products, and encourage them to return time after time. According to McKinsey, about 50% of shoppers check prices on their mobile phones while in a store. Introducing an app will reach those customers who have already have their phones in hand.

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ShopKick lets users earn ‘kicks’ which can be turned into gift card credit (Source: Google Play)

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