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TFG earmarks R500m for tech hub innovations

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TFG co-chief omni officers Luke Jedeikin (left) and Claude Hanan.
TFG co-chief omni officers Luke Jedeikin (left) and Claude Hanan.

The TFG group has allocated an investment of R500 million over the next three to five years, to ramp up its digital strategy after establishing its tech hub, TFGLabs.

The fashion retail giant, formerly known as The Foschini Group, says as part of its mission to deliver an agile world-class shopping experience on the continent, it is investing heavily in expertise and technical capabilities.

It plans to ramp up its omni-channel strategy, through several digital initiatives, to improve the shopping experience.

TFG is among SA’s largest retail groups, with 29 retail brands that trade in fashion, jewellery, accessories, sporting apparel, cellular and homeware, among others.

In June, the retailer launched its TFGLabs technology division, in a move to attract the continent’s best tech talent to accelerate its digital strategy.

The unit is run by former Takealot executives and Superbalist founders Claude Hanan and Luke Jedeikin, who say they are on a mission to establish TFG as the biggest and most profitable e-commerce destination on the continent.

As part of the strategy, they aim to use the latest technologies to create a seamless mobile shopping experience.

“Over the past five years, TFG had invested R1 billion in digital transformation and e-commerce. The group has planned a further investment of R500 million over the next three to five years to expand our digital capability,” notes Hanan, TFG co-chief omni officer.

“The key projects we are working on include a ground-up mobile app rebuild, placing the full suite of TFG products and services in our customers’ pockets. This includes 23 store brands, over180 000 products, financial services and value-added services.”

TFG has over 4 300 outlets in 26 countries on the continent, and employs more than 34 800 people, with over 26 million customers in SA.

The retailer’s online shopping app, myTFGworld.com, consolidates its retail partners onto one platform, offering local consumers a marketplace that seeks to take on global e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart.

The further investment will also be channelled towards augmenting TFG’s physical retail presence – the mobile app will bridge the physical and virtual shopping worlds, by strengthening the omni-channel experience for users, adds Hanan.

After TFG completed the purchase of Flat Circle, a local app development agency, the Cape Town-based TFGLabs now consists of over 110 engineers, product managers, data scientists, logistics and operations specialists, and digital marketers.

“Talent density is a simple concept but SA corporates typically don’t understand it, and it stifles creativity and productivity as a result. We’re aware of the significance of creating the most desirable high-performance environment within the tech sector in SA, and if we get that right, the rest will fall into place,” explains Jedeikin, TFG co-chief omni officer.

“If you look at global R&D spend, a significant portion of spend goes to external entities, third-party consultants and advisors. Very little goes towards in-house engineering teams, and this is the difference between a true tech business and a business nibbling at the edges of digital transformation.”

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