"'The future of retail is the ability to create a seamless shopping experience across online and offline"

As online shopping continues to grow in the country, customers are spoilt for choice on how and where they shop. Trends show that many South Africans are increasingly choosing to shop both in-store and online, or often simultaneously, before making a purchase.

iVend Retail found 90.8% of South African consumers shop on mobile devices while in a physical store, while a Shopify study reported that 59% of consumers are likely to browse online and buy in-store, and 54% are likely to look at a product in-store and buy online. As online shopping continues to grow in South Africa – with total online sales increasing by 35% in 2022 according to World Wide Worx – this hybrid approach between physical and digital retail is set to rise amongst shoppers looking for the best and most convenient deal.

To satisfy this new way of customer shopping, Pick n Pay is tapping into the trend of 'showrooming' – where customers visit a store to view the product before buying it online and 'webrooming' – whereby customers research products online then purchase them in store.

Pick n Pay has one of the most established scheduled delivery businesses and a rapidly expanding on-demand offering. It is now expanding its omnichannel strategy to create a seamless transition between an online and in-store shopping experience for its customers.

As customers have a growing expectation to shop from any location, any time, Pick n Pay is providing customers with more options to research and purchase products across multiple channels. It launched Pick n Pay Home last year – an online shop dedicated to homeware and appliances – and is selling selected products on Takealot's marketplace platform. This is supplemented by an in-store experience allowing customers to physically review products.

For example, customers can now look at a laptop in a Pick n Pay Hypermarket and choose to buy it then and there, or buy it online by scanning a QR code on the product's label in-store.

This new approach to general merchandise sales has been very successful, says Ansgar Pabst, Pick n Pay Head of General Merchandise: Omnichannel. "We did an initial pilot allowing customers to research and shop for products on their preferred platform, and the results were remarkable. The increase in sales shows that customers really love the ease and convenience of this omnichannel approach."

This all-inclusive experience is putting Pick n Pay at the forefront of omnichannel adoption in local retail.

"Many customers haven't made a complete switch to one form of shopping behaviour, rather they like to use both platforms – online and offline – before making a purchase decision," says Pabst.

"The pandemic accelerated online shopping habits and many will do a search online to compare products, specs and prices before visiting a store to look at the product. But there are many customers who still like to 'touch and feel' a product before purchasing the product, especially appliances and electronics," he adds.

"We have brought various shopping channels together (Pick n Pay stores, Pick n Pay Home and Takealot), to form an integrated experience for our customers. We have seamlessly blended traditional decision-making, with a new, digitalised buying decision process to deliver an imperceptible transition for customers."

Through continued accelerated digital innovation, Pick n Pay aims to build the most compelling omnichannel offering for customers and this will play a role in helping the retailer grow its online business eight-fold over the next four years.

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