Developing innovations that dominate industries

Joanne Carew
By Joanne Carew, ITWeb Cape-based contributor.
Cape Town, 06 Mar 2019
Craig Lubbe, CEO of
Craig Lubbe, CEO of

The marketplace is changing. If you are not embarrassed by the first product or service you take to market, you are doing something wrong.

These sentiments were shared by many of the speakers who took to the stage during Africa Tech Week, under way at Century City in Cape Town.

Speaking on the second day of the tech event, Craig Lubbe, CEO of, explained how e-commerce has changed since Bidorbuy launched in 1999.

The industry has exploded in recent years, which has forced businesses to come up with creative ways to attract, and retain, their share of the market. How do you do so?

According to Lubbe, it's not about the latest technology or the most advanced innovation; it's all about the consumer. The key to differentiating a business today is meeting customer expectations and always working to satisfy customer needs.

He outlined five truths for keeping modern consumers happy.

  • Keep things simple: Consumers really like things to be as simple as possible. If you can take something that is really complicated and make it easy and hassle-free, your customers will love you, he explained.
  • Think and act fast: Everyone is talking about everything happening on-demand and in real-time. And this is what consumers want. Years ago, we had to make a call to order a taxi but today it's as simple as opening up an app. You need to meet these expectations.
  • Be available: Today, a business cannot afford downtime or have a specific product be out of stock. If a customer cannot get what they need from you, they will go elsewhere, he said.
  • Do not be afraid to edit: On the flipside of his point above, Lubbe highlighted how important it is that businesses curate their offerings and product ranges in order to guarantee success. It may seem counter-intuitive to offer less but with too much choice, it can be hard for your customers to make sense of all of the options available.
  • Personalise: We have all heard about the value of personalisation, he said. And we all have loads of data. But, in many cases, we do not know what to do with it. What we as businesses need to do is start using data to curate experiences that make our customers feel valued.

While Lubbe acknowledged these ideas are particularly relevant for e-commerce businesses, he noted that anyone who wants to dominate their industry must start by understanding their consumer and what they value. And once you know this, it's important to root all of innovation in this understanding of your consumer.

Lubbe also stressed the importance of meeting the consumer where they are at. It does not make sense to base our understanding of consumers on what is happening in the US or Europe. It's more important to do something that is aligned with our truths and is suited to our consumers and our environment.

To close, Lubbe stressed the importance of focusing on what matters. All businesses have a wide variety of things they could make better but it's critical to choose your battles and focus attention on these issues so that you can really succeed.

"In a world where everyone else is running, you need to be running too. If you're the business that isn't innovating and trying to be better, you may as well be moving backwards."