Experts in the retail industry have said retailers in Nigeria and Africa can leverage the rise of data analytics and big data to have a better understanding of the industry to boost sales.
This was revealed at the second edition of the Africa Retail Congress hosted by Lagos Business School’s Africa Retail Academy on November 11, 2023.
The congress which was themed ‘Transforming Retail Barriers to Opportunities’, gathered industry experts and practitioners from across Africa, to discuss pressing issues facing the retail industry in the continent, in order to chart a path to retail success.
“There are tons of small data that retailers can use to better understand their businesses. There are also a lot of disjointed data that retailers cannot make sense of through contextualisation,” Bayo Adekanbi, chief executive officer at Data Science Nigeria, said.
“There is so much that we have all over the place that we need to have a way of touching the data so that they can speak to us because data is only powerful when disparate,” he said.
He added that disjointed data are aligned together so that we find common patterns in margins and this is critical because people are not statistics but bundles of emotions. “It is in aggregating data that we begin to segment people and outcomes”
Olu Akanmu, former president and ex-CEO of Opay-Nigeria, said bankers need the application of retail knowledge in their business.
Retailers in the fast-moving consumer goods space or e-commerce are not the only ones who need the application of retail knowledge bankers as well.
“Bankers should deviate from the conventional approach, they judge performance but instead look into individual customer data and how they transact with the bank,” he added.
Apart from leveraging data, other experts advised retailers to collaborate so that they can effectively engage with regulators and thrive in the country’s tough business environment.
Haresh Keswani, CEO of Artee Group, while delivering his keynote speech, said retailers are struggling in the country because every regulator wants the modern retailer to comply with their regulations, and some of the regulations can be stifling.
“And the retailers have to comply because of the aspiration to serve their consumers. But informal retailers have nothing to worry about from taxes to compliance,” he said.
He added that removing the roadblocks in retail requires a lot of collective understanding from all stakeholders in retail which include the government, regulators, manufacturers, logistic partners, financial institutions and retailers. “It requires all of us to come together so that retailers can develop the passion to serve.”
According to Patrick Akinwuntan, faculty at LBS, retail businesses need to start creating common platforms like associations not only in Nigeria but across Africa as well because when they come together as one body to engage the regulators, they can have more impact.
“I have heard a lot that regulators don’t like to support. Well, they don’t do that because of their fear of unmanageable risks. Most of them that we engage with are at the peak of their careers. So, they don’t want to take any unmanageable risk.
“But if you come as an aggregated team, think through and self-regulate, and take your self-regulation to your regulator to formalize, then we create a win-win scenario”, he added.