Locally, we are accustomed to Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, which happens to be one of the busiest days for shoppers, retailers and e-commerce sites. This is the time where spending volumes hit new, higher heights thanks to significant discounts on products.
The season is already here with us, and some consider it as the unstated beginning for December shopping spree. It should be noted that Black Friday precedes Cyber Monday, and in tandem, the two days have offered substantial sale opportunities for Kenyan retailers in offline and online platforms in the past.
One of the major setbacks during this season is based on unnecessary downtime on e-commerce sites because systems cannot handle high traffic, which can be catastrophic. For instance, I can ascertain that a recently launched e-commerce platform by one of Kenya’s top telecoms operator has crashed a number of times today, and while it cannot be established what the causative agent is, you and I have a good guess. This is not helping customers who want to specific items in a time where sales are expected to increase – and whenever such sites bounce back to life, chances are that you will find an exhausted list of hot deals. It is for this reason that online retailers need to prioritize on preventing overcrowding on their servers, system crashes and orders getting lost.
According to Cisco’s Regional Manager for Corporate Affairs Mr. Alfie Hamid, online retailers are not very good at imparting critical practices to the skill set of their employees.
“Many retailers have missed empowering their own workforces with, for example, digital collaboration tools, real-time customer insights, and virtual assistance. A workforce that is armed with relevant knowledge and insights is also essential to improving the in-store customer experience, a key differentiator for bricks-and-mortar retailers over their online rivals,” says Hamid.
Research done by the same connectivity institution argues that employee productivity technologies can deliver the most exceptional value for boosting efficiency, improving worker collaborations and interactions as well as optimize checkout processes.
At the same time, investing in these technologies can contribute to enhanced shopping experiences and increased customer/employee retention. In 2016, only 6 percent of retailers emphasized on the need to invest in employee productivity, despite findings indicating that use cases deliver the highest return on investment for them.
“The key initiatives that improve employee productivity all rely on a network that understands how people interact, can be customized easily, and can control access irrespective of the device that the employee is using – all things that today’s retail employees demand,” adds Hamid.
In the same line of thought, investment in workforce digitization can boost the value of operations, as well as talent retention and the labour equation. Owing to the fact that this enhances customer experience, digitization offers a platform that enables a value chain that is vital to retail success.
“A focus on technology investments that empower employees takes on a whole new meaning in Kenya, which already struggles to overcome education and training challenges,” Hamid says. “With digitization, companies have an opportunity to improve skills across the board in the retail industry, which will contribute hugely to the growth of the country’s economy, whether on Black Friday or throughout the year.”