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The challenges for retail in Africa

Oct 20th 2011, 08:05


The challenges for retail in Africa

Africa has become a prime destination for retailers in their quest to break into new markets. Our growing consumer populations combined with slower growth in developed markets, among other factors, all contribute to making it a sought-after business destination. But, as with most ventures, there are challenges to overcome in order to succeed in the untapped markets of Africa.

Distribution is probably one of the biggest challenges for retailers because many of the consumers who need to be serviced are scattered and live in outlying areas. This, coupled with this market’s difficulty in accessing transport, means that retailers need to be more innovative in the ways they familiarise consumers with their products and gain this market’s loyalty.

Advertising and marketing are other challenges in reaching consumers in Africa. Many rural communities use mobile phones instead of traditional media, for example, which means that retailers will have to look at new ways of advertising their presence to these new markets and getting consumers through their doors.

South African retailers have been quick to enter African countries. In recent developments, Woolworths plans to open three stores in Nigeria in the next few months and Pick n Pay has already entered Mauritius. Although the playing fields have been marked out, there are no hard and fast rules to winning this game.

Wendy Smith
P.S. Look out for this editorial on our editor’s blog.

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