redPanda Software, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, has grown to become South Africa’s largest retail software specialist — and it’s poised for further growth as its recent expansion into the UK market bears fruit.
redPanda Software started with one winning insight, says CEO Gareth Hawkey: “We realised that there was a need to give retailers a choice of best fit retail solutions whether it be off-the-shelf software or customised retail software, which would enable our clients around the world to achieve their objectives.”
redPanda launched in Cape Town with the Lewis Group, South Africa’s largest furniture retailer, as its first client. Since then it has been a strategic partner of Lewis through their growth from 500 stores to 800 stores.
“We have a solid business relationship,” says Les Davies, IT Director of Lewis. “redPanda Software has played an important part in the rollout of robust point of sale software to our stores.”
“We have succeeded together” says Hawkey.
Trusted long-term partnerships
Over the years, redPanda has seen growth and increased spend from its customer base both locally and internationally. Software is the bedrock of a retail business, says Hawkey.
“Every strategy, every promotion, every business move our clients make is enabled through software. That requires a very close and trusting relationship and we’re proud to have built exactly that with our esteemed client base.”
This track record of loyal and reliable collaboration led directly to redPanda’s partnership with PCMS, one of the world’s leading retail and POS software providers.
“Local retailers want renowned Best-of-Breed retail solutions from PCMS and require the customisation, support and responsiveness of a local partner. Having looked at many players in the local industry, PCMS chose us,” says Hawkey.
“This was a very proud moment for the redPanda executive team, confirming that our vision and commitment to building great retail software, had in fact become a reality”
The company has not only grown from 34 to 170 employees in South Africa, but in April 2018 opened an office in the United Kingdom.
It was the right time to expand and further highlighted the importance of the PCMS partnership that the company can deliver its services on a global level. Too often, local businesses discount themselves and feel they cannot compete internationally.
But redPanda has shown that this does not have to be the case. Already, it has started tapping into the UK market with revenue streams building as a result.
redPanda’s partnership with PCMS has since grown in both size and scope. Starting as a local service provider, redPanda is now part of the global team developing PCMS’s core product.
Investment in people
redPanda’s commitment to trusting relationships begins with its people.
“Our decade of success has been built on investing in our employees,” says Hawkey. “We started an internship programme together with the MICT SETA in our second year, and most of the people we have trained during this time are still with us, some as senior developers or managers. A sustainable business needs a continuous flow of young minds.”
The programme has won a SETA award and been recognised by the Premier of the Western Cape for its contribution to upskilling South Africa’s youth.
As a result, says Hawkey, “redPanda is achieving its goal of being an employer of choice. We’ve become known as a great place for young developers to work, with a supportive culture that helps people grow.”
“Our team is now 170 people strong, and we expect that to increase substantially in the next two years as we expand into Johannesburg next.”
Even though redPanda started with a simple vision, the focus of the company remains unwavered in ensuring it has the right people and the right culture to deliver on customer requirements.
The deepening of redPanda’s partnership with PCMS in South Africa now has it doing sales, implementation and customisation of PCMS products for local retailers.
“We have a very strong sales pipeline and expect to sign up at least another one of South Africa’s big-name retailers within a year,” says Hawkey. “That means expanding to a new office in Johannesburg on 1 November 2019.”
This article was published in partnership with redPanda.