Reinvention – A key part of the burgeoning retail environment

Retail is an exciting industry for me – in South Africa it is a burgeoning environment filled with grand potential and possibility. In May 2022, Nielsen South Africa released its State of the Retail Nation analysis which showed that total annual retail sales at retail outlets were R516-Billion which represents a 14.4% annual increase. According to Stats SA, retail trade sales increased by 0.5% in the second quarter of 2022 compared with the second quarter of 2021. The largest positive contributor to this increase was retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear, and leather goods

Consumers love retail, it is the power of making a purchase and the entire experience. Retail goes beyond the simple necessity of buying products, it could be considered a national pastime.

The evolution of the brand-customer connection

There has been a sudden urge to experience and enjoy retail post covid and brands are open to finding new and engaging ways to draw in customers. It was an amazing learning curve as we had to figure out how to remain relevant, trustworthy, and connected without providing a physical service. This has forced the industry to understand their audience’s lifestyle better – what they enjoyed, what they liked, how they spent their time. During the pandemic, retail underwent a major shift, and we are still seeing the trend of reinvention, it is about connecting customer to brand beyond just that one sale, further than just that one visit. The consumer to brand connection has become so overarching that stores are being built and designed with the intention to strengthen this connection. I have seen stores becoming curated spaces where their audience can feel, touch, hear and be the brand. Engagement needs to continue beyond the sale. There is a push for this from both consumers and brands. People want to be affiliated with a brand they love, and this sets an expectation for brands as you can’t let your fans down. This is a good thing as it keeps the industry fresh and exciting.


Always on the move in a forever changing environment.

I’m constantly asking myself – how do I keep products alive, consistently on the move and a couple of steps ahead? I live on Pinterest, to familiarise myself with what are other retailers are doing to stay relevant. For those wanting to embark on a career in retail, it’s important to start at the beginning – being in a store front face engaging with customers. This is key to understanding the people you are serving. Ask yourself: how do I better reinvent the shop space to better serve customers. Be open to learning something new. There will be parts of your day where you must carry boxes from the delivery section; the importance of doing that is to understand the process when you open a new store. Try to do and learn as much as you can because a few years down the line you will realise how it has served you.

Within the retail sector, the ability to reinvent the shopping experience and turn brands into lifestyles have been invaluable in keeping the industry thriving. I believe that the ability to reinvent has become one of the industry’s most valuable resources.

Tshiamo Mathibela – MD at Kiddies Republic – The Drip Group 

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