South Africa retailers urged to drive innovation

Although today's big challenge for retail stores is innovation, local retailers should drive innovation 'from the customer in', to avoid prohibitive costs, and to ensure that they can meet customer requirements by applying the best use of resources.

That is the opinion of Jaco Barnard, retail industry leader, IBM South Africa Global Business Services, who recommends that South Africa (SA) retailers revisit their strategies to ensure they reflect a strong differentiated position from a consumer segmentation and competitive point of view.

"The key is to integrate a multichannel, consumer-centric focus into the offering, including the assortment, services, marketing and promotional strategies," Barnard says. "Stores are key as platforms where the customer experiences innovation. It is where innovation can differentiate."

Further recommendations include broadening the retailer's collaboration capability to leverage the full strength of its merchandising, marketing, supplying chain and store operations functions, as well as using leadership, incentives and measurements to drive the necessary cultural shift towards innovation.