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This week's top 5 cultural insights and e-commerce trends: 13 September 2019

Business · 4 min read

AOB: 13 September 2019

This week we look at shoppers searching for a speedier exit, lost leaders and their legacy and how Amazon’s Alexa can do more for your business than you may have thought. Find out more in this week’s AOB.

Making convenience stores more convenient for customers

In an age of immediacy, it comes as no surprise that shoppers are looking for a swifter experience in-store. A 2018 report released by the National Association of Convenience Stores found that 65% of shoppers, who frequently go to convenience stores, indicated that they would be interested in in-store technologies that would let them pay for purchases instantly or skip checkout lines. Companies need to experiment and innovate. We looked at growth hacking your business, uncovering where you can tweak the customer journey to find the optimum setting for both consumer and retailer.

However, customers aren't always adopting the tools they've demanded when they're provided to them, with only one-third of shoppers using new retail technology, according to an A.T. Kearney report. The findings showed that the focus should be towards convenience over novelty, with stores needing to keep their tech up to par in order to compete with the likes of Amazon. Fortunately, there is a desire to do so, with 43% of retailers wanting to roll out scan-and-go technology and mobile app payments, and 42% looking to implement a click and collect service.

Jack Ma leaves Alibaba with strong successors

Chinese online retail juggernaut Alibaba is waving farewell to its founder – Jack Ma – as he retires to focus more on philanthropic endeavours. Ma steps down next week as chairman of the company, but has left the reins of the company in the hands of a respected team of executives who have kept it on e-commerce's cutting edge. Framed as the 'Gold Standard' for tech-company succession by Jeffrey Towson – an equity investor and professor at Peking University – Ma has been praised for 'making [himself] redundant' within the workplace, something big tech founders like Bill Gates and – Yahoo co-founder – Jerry Yang failed at

With more than 750 million monthly users, Alibaba will be looking to maintain and grow through the innovation and culture set in place by Ma from the start. Finding replacement talent can be a tricky acquisition process – for Ma, his successors have been with him for some time, but here’s a quick guide for finding the right staff for you.

E-commerce could create 3 million jobs in Africa

"E-commerce is the future" is a phrase likely to be passed around a lot. But when Albert Muchanga – the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry – says it, he means it for the future of the African continent, as it has the potential to create 3 million jobs there by 2025.

And it’s not just jobs in the pipeline. Dr Elsia Knaza – the WEF's head of Africa – believes it can raise female empowermentand entrepreneurship. While setting up e-commerce in any country has its problems, Africans face more than most due to low consumer digital trust, poor infrastructure and low regional integration. However, WEF are hopeful of putting a plan in place to increase confidence, and open up Africa as a viable and enticing e-commerce opportunity for the world. Digital entrepreneur Chris Folayan has already made steps towards this by launching Mall For Africa – read our profile to find out how Folayan developed the e-commerce site.   

Employing Amazon Alexa for business

Did you know that Amazon alone has over 100 million devices that give customers access to its voice assistant? That's the equivalent to the population of Egypt being able to get a joke on demand, or ask for the weather, from the smart speaker. Voice assistants are changing the way people search – and can also impact your company's daily operations. And now, by customizing the experience through Amazon Alexa Skill Blueprints, they can give you an easy way to receive updates and find information quickly.

The business applications vary from a Business Q&A – to address frequently asked questions so your workforce can focus on more detailed queries – to an Onboard Guide for new team members to learn the new processes. And, you can always work in a little motivation, with inspirational quotes for a morale boost, and automated birthday wishes so everyone in your workforce feels valued.

Fenty Beauty expands into Asian Market

Fenty Beauty – Rihanna’s make-up label – has launched a flagship store on Tmall Global, Alibaba Group's dedicated cross-border e-commerce marketplace. This will make the beauty brand's products more accessible to the digitally savvy Chinese market – alongside 20,000 brands that span 4,000 categories from 77 countries and regions.

We’ve found that these digital natives aren’t to be ignored, with China being home to a generation of 400 million millennials, each with fashion items and consumer electronics on their shopping lists. Some 80% of brands on the site are entering the Chinese market for the first time, so a look to the East could be a worthwhile option to expand your business in Asian e-commerce.