As life continues to move at a pace that seems to get faster with each passing year, consumers are increasingly demanding higher levels of convenience to save as much time as possible. Naturally, this rising demand has resulted in a trend towards convenience-focused retail businesses, presenting a growing opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to build businesses that meet this mandate.
This is according to Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for South Africa’s 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year competition (sponsored by Sanlam and Business Partners) who points to the Nielsen Global Retail Growth Strategy Report which shows that South African consumers’ retail choices are highly influenced by convenience of location (71%), ease and speed of shopping experience (61%), high-quality fresh produce (71%) and product availability (68%).
“It is not necessarily about offering a one-stop-shop, but rather about providing a convenient, efficient solution to meet the current needs and demands of customers,” says Engelbrecht, who adds that a one-stop-shop is usually not what people are looking for, as these already exist. “Shopping malls are a great example of one-stop-shops – offering a variety of stores under one roof. The real art, however, is finding a niche where the business alleviates hassle for consumers and ultimately saves them time and money.”
This, he adds, is where entrepreneurs have the potential to seize gaps in the market, providing all-inclusive products or services which, if done correctly, have the ability to compete with larger retailers who are often assumed to be the only go-to for convenience-based services.
Tumi Phake, 2017 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year and founder of Zenzele Fitness Group – a gym management business which operates fully-equipped gym facilities at various corporates, universities and government institutions across the country – says that his background of working in large corporates and financial institutions allowed him to see the opportunities that existed for providing complete, holistic wellness solutions for employees – something that corporate employers could provide.
“With lifestyle diseases higher today than in previous years, and with an increased societal pressure to do more in less time, we knew that forward-thinking businesses would see the value in providing in-house wellness solutions to their employees – to promote healthy lifestyles, and reduce the amount of employee absenteeism as a direct result of poor health,” says Phake. “By providing wellness solutions at employees’ places of work, we eliminate the time it takes to travel to an external gym, giving members the ability to benefit from a more balanced, healthy lifestyle – right at their place of work.”
He adds that by meeting his customers’ intrinsic need for more time and higher productivity, many of the business’ corporate clients have returned to upgrade their gym facility, offering to include a full-service wellness programme for their employees and allowing Zenzele to upsell on their current offering.
Mpodumo Doubada, 2017 Innovator of the Year and founder of Pimp my Book, a chain of campus stores which operates on the premise of buying and selling used textbooks, says that his business was founded on the concept of providing students with a convenient, all-inclusive option to both sell their used books, and purchase good quality, second-hand books. “From our earlier success in this area, we are now expanding to do the same for electronics such as laptops, cellular phones and other tools that students use. Since we buy used books from students for cash, we realised that we could present these same students with other products for them to spend that cash on,” he says.
Echoing Doubada’s sentiments, Engelbrecht says that the real art of tapping into the rising trend of convenience-based business, is to first perfect the novel niche in the market that you have identified. “A business need not be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’, offering every product and service simply for convenience-sake, to the detriment of product quality and service. Only after becoming specialists in a particular field should a business begin exploring ways to expand the concept to other markets.”