Retailers move to smartphones, tabs

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IOL bus mar11 tablet AFP

The switch to tablets and smartphones has had an impact on the purchasing behaviour of customers and now retailers such as Massmart, which owns Makro, Game and DionWired stores, will have to make some changes to keep up.

Massmart’s chief executive, Grant Pattison, says due to the popularity of the all-in-one devices, consumers are now shying away from gadgets such as cameras, laptops and MP3 players.

“People now have access to video, camera and MP3s on their phones and smartphones… We are not going to do away with these devices but rather reduce stock.”

Is this the beginning of the end for these gadgets? Are we likely to experience another digital revolution when it comes to cameras, video recorders and laptops, as well as other devices?

The digital revolution brought many photographic companies, such as Kodak, Fuji Film and others, to their knees. It also turned darkrooms into museums.

Pattison’s observations are supported by the fact that thousands of people, including university students, now own tablets and smartphones. Even South African schools are discussing the possibility of introducing e-books, which may result in pupils using tablets or cellphones to study.

Access to these gadgets has a direct impact on online shopping. As much as online stores are gaining in popularity, shoppers still enjoy the “walk in the shop” experience. They still want to feel, touch and smell when shopping.

However, retailers are slowly coming around to enhancing their online offering.

The online stores of one retailer, Mr Price, offer its customers fashion tips and a diary update from fashion bloggers. This you can only get if you have internet access or a cellphone.

Pattison’s statement should be treated as a warning: if you do not have a tablet, smartphone or online shopping facility for your store, you are falling behind your competitors.

Mediation

There is no end in sight for the wage strike that is well into its seventh week in the platinum belt after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) put the brakes on talks between employers and employees yesterday.

“Given that parties still remain far apart at this stage, the CCMA has decided to adjourn the process to give all parties an opportunity to reflect on their respective positions,” the commission said in a statement yesterday.

Now the CCMA and the Chamber of Mines are at loggerheads over chamber negotiator Elize Strydom’s harsh criticism of the quality of mediation.

About 70 000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have downed tools at the big three platinum producers since January 23 in support of their demand for a R12 500 a month minimum wage.

The burning questions are: how much longer will the strike continue, and what losses will be incurred by both sides?

It is clear that Amcu wants to make a name for itself through the strike, which is becoming a game to test who blinks first.

Mining companies say they have been crippled by the strike and have continually updated the cumulative impact, including losses in revenue and production.

Yesterday the world’s second-largest platinum producer, Impala Platinum, said it had lost R2 billion in revenue and about 90 000 ounces of platinum production since the strike started.

Lonmin, the third-largest producer, said it would not meet its full-year target of at least 750 000 ounces of the precious metal.

Top producer Anglo American Platinum has said it was losing 4 000 ounces a day, translating into R100 million in daily revenue as its Union and Amandelbult mines ground to a halt. Page 18

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Nompumelelo Magwaza and Dineo Faku.


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