South Africa’s biggest retailer looks to expand its services

 ·27 Oct 2022

South Africa’s biggest retailer, the Shoprite Group has made a minority investment into consumer data platform, Omnisient.

The investment marks the second minority investment in a South African tech start-up this year, and forms part of the group’s strategy to expand its financial services offering in the country.

The group recently launched its own fully-fledged transactional bank account as part of its Money Market, and said it is increasingly looking at partnerships in its ecosystem with innovative small businesses.

“In partnership with Omnisient, Shoprite will be able to use customer data to better understand and identify opportunities to create more value and improve financial inclusion for its customers,” it said.

“The decision to invest in Omnisient is the result of a considered effort to invest, partner and collaborate with start-ups as we continue to create a smarter Shoprite while remaining resolute in our commitment to be Africa’s most accessible and affordable retailer.”

Apart from Buffet Investments and KLT, Shoprite joined follow-on investors One5, ENL and early shareholders Investec and Nedbank in their investment in Omnisient.

According to Omnisient, the investment will be used to support its continued geographic expansion, as well as the ongoing development of its platform into the world’s leading source of consumer intelligence that fully complies with global consumer privacy regulations.

Neil Schreuder, chief of strategy and innovation at ShopriteX, the group’s data and customer technology unit, said that Shoprite has been working with Omnisient for the past year.

“As a data-rich organisation, this investment will enable us to deepen our knowledge and understanding of our customers and their needs so that we can continue to expand on the relevant services we offer them,” he said.

Omnisient enables businesses to use consumption data in a secure, compliant and risk-free manner to create new revenue streams. The group has bank-grade encryption technology, and customers’ data is anonymised and protected at all times. Any personally identifiable information is also never shared.

Shoprite is adding to its tech-driven repertoire of services, announcing earlier this month that it is implementing a plan to digitise its business and improve efficiency by using artificial intelligence (AI) to try and create better customer experiences.

The group said that it is taking a pragmatic approach to developing new technologies to use in the retail space, noting that it has a focus on “iterative and re-usable innovation”, adding that it is not necessarily looking to reinvent the wheel.

It said that it will use technologies that – once proven – can quickly be expanded and operationalised.

“If somebody has already invented the wheel and we can use it, we’ll do that. If not, Shoprite Technology has the expertise to create the required solution ourselves in order to best serve the business, and most importantly, our customers,” it said.

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