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Templar Wales SA Today

Watch: 100 Days In Lockdown and Remote Working. Templar Wales on SA Today, SABC

By | #COVID19, Digital Transformation, Future of Work, HR, In the news, Productivity, Remote Working, Research, Team Culture | No Comments

It’s been 100 days since lockdown began in South Africa and remote working has become a part of everyday life for businesses and employees. This presents a unique opportunity for many companies to adopt new ways of working that will stand them in good stead for the future.

What does the new world of work look like and how are organisations adapting? dY/dX partner, Templar Wales, addresses this question and more in a recent interview with Florence ‘Flo‘ Ledwaba, on SA Today, SABC.




The 100 days since lockdown have seen remote working become an integral part of the business life. During this time businesses and employees have adapted to a new way of life and operating. Here to chat about working remotely under the lockdown, I’m joined by Templar Wales, partner and co-founder of digital transformation company dY/dX, for more on this. Just as a start, your company, dY/dX, has recently conducted a study on remote working over this period; what have been your key findings, especially in terms of businesses having to adapt to new operating models in the past 100 days?

Templar Wales:
Many businesses are moving away from everybody working from home to a hybrid model – where some people go into the office and other people work from home. Some of the key issues that people are struggling with are HR and IT policies. Many policies only for when people are in the office and not for when people are working from home. The other is management style – so the role and style of management in terms of building trust and managing output rather than hours. People have been talking about managing output rather than hours for years but now they are having to trust that people are doing their jobs. A very important part of that is also finding a balance between checking in that people are okay and giving them support, making sure they’re clear on what they need to do, but leaving them enough time to do deep work – to deliver on what they need to.

HR is central to most businesses. What advice would you give to companies who are grappling with how things are having to move forward?

Templar Wales:
The people that are able to do their job from home – if they work on a laptop or phone – are probably the least affected. The people that are the most affected are those who are leading teams and HR; they’re asking questions like, “How do I lead and manage my teams in this way?” So the one challenge is managing your team so that you can work effectively with them and have clarity around your structures, your meetings, how many meetings you have and how often. The other is around upskilling – making sure that both your teams and your management are upskilled in terms of how to work better together, how to build teamwork and culture together, as well as the tools that you need to execute on that.

Let’s talk about the many positives of working from home – for one, we don’t have to sit in traffic. Also psychologically, it must be quite a lot easier to not have to worry about getting up in the morning, preparing yourself to go to work and sitting in traffic. Surely there must be a number of positives to take out from this, not only for employees but for employers as well?

Templar Wales:
Absolutely, the positives are many. There’s the upside on a personal level where you don’t have to sit in traffic for 1 or 2 hours of the day, many people report eating better, exercising and being more mindful. I think the benefits to businesses are that they can start to do a lot of cost-cutting – like downsizing office space and the resources that they use to perform certain duties at work. We need to make sure that we don’t go back to the old ways of working and take full advantage of the benefits that this hybrid model offers – where you can keep people working at home and either have certain people doing certain roles or at certain times; so you do 90% of your work from home and then come into the office as and when you need to. So from a cost-cutting and operational perspective, there are a lot of opportunities for businesses to actually benefit. From an employment point of view – if you are now employing people to work remotely, you can recruit people from around the world. You can find the best people who not only live in your city but anywhere.

Let’s say, in a year from now, we find ourselves in a situation where we’re all clear, we’re not dealing with this pandemic anymore and it’s a thing of the past… Do you see companies deciding that this has worked and that this is the way to move forward?

Templar Wales:
Absolutely. A lot of us hope that that’s the case. A lot of the conversation is around how COVID has forced people into a digital transformation that should have happened anyway. We see this as an opportunity to leap forward and not just with a temporary change of behaviour, but a more permanent one. We need to take the best of both – how do we benefit from what we use our office for and how do we benefit from working from home? Already you have businesses like Google who are employing thousands of South Africans to work remotely in their help centre.


Watch: dY/dX Partner Templar Wales on SABC News: COVID-19 and Remote Working

By | 4IR, Future of Work, HR, In the news, Remote Working, Talent, Team Culture | No Comments

COVID-19 has initiated huge shifts in our ways of working and accelerated the process of digital transformation. Many businesses have had to reevaluate their systems and processes to adapt.

Do these changes signal a new era of work? Will remote working become the new norm? How do businesses who have recently moved online keep company culture alive?

Answering these questions and more on SABC News was dY/dX Partner, Templar Wales:

Transcript for Video:

SABC Reporter:
Researchers, businesses and innovators around the world are putting technology to work to alleviate the effects of the global COVID-19 health crisis. Advancements in technology and social media apps are playing an important part in limiting the loss of life caused by this pandemic.

Templar Wales is an expert on improving meetings, interactions and workspaces using technology. Templar now joins me via skype for more on this discussion. As a start, I read an article this week that was saying that productivity is actually on the rise while people are working from home and using technology to enable them to work from home. What do you make of that? Is that surprising? I know people like myself need an actual office to work from – I’m definitely not as productive when I’m at home.

There’s definitely mixed feedback. A lot of people are becoming more productive because they aren’t sitting in traffic for two hours a day, they are at their desks for a lot longer and there are fewer interruptions – so for a lot of people, they are more productive. The opposite is also true – a lot of people are finding that they are having too many Skype and Zoom calls. There’s a thing called Zoom Fatigue, which is very real – it’s draining and exhausting and they might not be as productive as they usually would be.

SABC Reporter:
It’s great to have all this technology and the fact that you and I can interact like this, instead of you being here in the studio, sitting here in front of me. But I wonder about human interaction – there is always a pro and con to everything, and I tend to worry about the fact that this isn’t very personal. It’s so impersonal to be having these kinds of interactions and not physically seeing people.

It’s true to a certain degree. For a lot of people, they may feel more comfortable not having to go out and physically be in front of a room full of people. If you’re having a meeting with 25 or 30 people, in a way, a lot of introverts might feel more comfortable this way. But you definitely lose the non-verbal communication – the ability to pick up on people’s body language.

SABC Reporter:
Do you think companies will see this, moving forward, as a cost-cutting measure – in terms of not having to rent out office space; not having to pay big prices to have corner offices in some peak area in Johannesburg, for example, because you’re going to have less people coming into the office. Do you think that some companies are sitting back and going, “Hey – we might be able to cut costs with these Skype meetings and MS Teams platform that we’re now getting used to.”

Absolutely, I think that there’s a bit of both. I think we are going to go through a transition phase, where you do have people saving on rent and travel costs. But, for a while, those costs will be moved into paying for people’s bandwidth at home, paying for additional equipment and slowly getting out of rental agreements – perhaps they will only be needing space for 50% or 75% of their workforce, rather than their full workforce. There has been a growing trend of remote working, and this is a pushback trend moving forward – I think that a lot of the work of the future behaviour has been accelerated and will not go back. From an economic point of view, a lot of people are being pushed out of their secure work and are entering the gig economy and working from home so that they’re working for 2 or 3 different clients as well.

SABC Reporter:
You mentioned the fact that for introverts this might be a great thing, but how can companies use technology to strengthen company culture? Usually you would have something like team building… How do you enforce that kind of thing when we’re social distancing and aren’t really seeing each other. Is it possible for companies to use technology in some ways and how?

So that’s a very interesting thing that we talk about internally quite a lot. For a long time, culture has been this thing that CEOs are driving for, but in reality, culture is built on behaviour. So it’s actually a behaviour that we are trying to instil. So if you’ve got a team, it’s important to agree, as a team, what that behaviour is, what is your common purpose, what are you aiming towards, what are the outcomes going to be – plan with the team what the tools and behaviours are going to be. You’ve got diverse people within a team, so how do you make sure that all of their cultures, history and behaviour is included in that team culture that is then formed? Then build your tools around that; build your technology around what you’re trying to achieve as a team and what you’ve agreed upon as your team norms – that will govern your behaviour which will build your culture.

Listen: dY/dX Partner Nevo Hadas Talks on SAFM – The Future of Work

By | #COVID19, 4IR, Future of Work, HR, In the news, Remote Working, Talent, Team Culture | No Comments

It is no longer a question of if the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change our ways of working, but when. The answer might be sooner than you think – COVID-19 has already ushered in a new era of digital transformation. While the pandemic has provided a global impetus for working remotely and many businesses are restructuring to move their systems and processes online, traditional employment structures and contracts will start changing, opening up a world of new opportunities for both employers and employees.

Nevo Hadas, dY/dX partner, speaks on SAFM to explain what businesses can expect and how to prepare for the coming changes.



Songezo Mabece:
Nevo Hadas, partner at dY/dX, a digital transformation company – we’re in conversation with you this evening because we need to talk about something which makes a lot of senior employees somewhat uncomfortable – engaging technology and how companies themselves are not necessarily moving with the times. COVID has forced the agenda of working remotely and increasing the use of technology, and all of that speaks favourably to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What is your response to that?

Nevo Hadas:
I think it’s spot on. What we’ve seen is a massive and rapid shift for companies and society to move into remote work. It’s left a lot of companies, and especially managers and leaders, in a very uncomfortable position because they have no skills and haven’t been trained in how to manage and lead people that aren’t at the office. I think it has impacted many businesses as you said.

Songezo Mabece:
What should be the process or protocol that companies employ? How much of my own personal equipment is supposed to now suddenly be work equipment? What responsibilities does the employer have to provide me with this infrastructure at home? I understand it could be costly, for instance, I’m a lawyer – if we were working in a legal environment the turnover for paper would be astronomical. You would need a printer. Sometimes you would need a colour printer when you engage graphs and colour diagrams. What balance, if any, can be struck between the expenses in relation to fulfilling one’s obligations as the employer and employee?

Nevo Hadas
I think that’s a great example. I’m going to first use the example, then I’ll answer the question of who takes on this cost, and what the future of work looks like in an employer and employee relationship. We have a lot of solutions in the office – things that we use and that we do every day that are actually solving a problem that doesn’t exist in a digitized world. So for example, the issue of printing – one of our clients was working quite effectively running radio stations, where they have a traffic department who needed printer desperately. This was one of the key requirements of this department – they would print out documents to see which ads were running where and track their performance and results on paper, just like you as a lawyer – and still, they were forced out of the office. Suddenly paper wasn’t a critical requirement because they worked out ways to work without paper, and everything became digital. A similar thing will happen to the legal profession; the idea of a physically signed contract will shift into digitally signed contracts, and those contracts will become more accepted. So what you find is the requirements that we had before, for things like paper, were actually habits that we’ve developed from working in an office-based environment, and once we move out of the office, we find new solutions that get
rid of those problems.

What that means from an employer-employee perspective, talking about who is responsible for certain costs – what you’ll see is generally a progression, especially for the digital-first or remote working companies. The traditional structure of an employment contract which is a nine-to-five – you’ll be at the office at 9 and go home at 5, and all the time between those two periods belongs to me, as the employer… That really starts shifting because suddenly, I don’t know if you’re at your desk from 9 to 5 and I lose control over that period of time. Before, a lot of our contractual and behavioural components came out of the industrial age and a sense of geographic proximity. Location ruled the work environment and employers wanted everyone in the office at one time so that they could maintain control, communicate and do everything they needed to do. But now, I can’t see you and you could be anywhere – I have to move, as an employer and as a manager, to output-based performance. I have to look at what you’re actually achieving. And once it all moves towards output-based performance, I don’t actually have to care how many hours you work and whether you’re working from 9 to 5, as long as the job is done and done well. That dramatically breaks this whole traditional idea of employment. So now people are moving towards flexible employment and Flexitime. The exciting thing for employees is they get more of their life back, they should get more control over what they do with their days, yet still, be able to be employed and produce good work.

Songezo Mabece:
On that, it does assume certain things. Some of those things which were not necessarily part of the discussion are now becoming a reality. If we look at the elder generation – it’s enough for them to open the laptop, press the button and start the computer… Then they click on Outlook, Microsoft Word or whatever system they use, and that for them is as much training as they would have needed in interfacing with the infrastructure for the purposes of doing their work. If there was a problem, they’d simply call someone. Now, all of that is taken away because one has to work on their computer at home. Now there are Zoom and Skype meetings and they are forced to be very conversant with this technology, which they didn’t have two or three months ago. Now they have had to have a crash course and learn as they go. This poses challenges to the workplace. And again, whose responsibility is it? I would assume I have to take the initiative but at the end of the day, it can be costing me money to perform my work, which for the most part, was supposed to be something traditionally provided by the employer.

Nevo Hadas:
I think there you’ve got a very good point – this transition from the way that work was, to the rapid new world, is the employer’s responsibility. If you’ve come into the contract and you’re already a remote worker, that’s one thing, because you’ve got your laptop, you’ve got your input manufacturing costs, and that’s part of your agreements with your employer. But if you’re a traditional employee and you’re seeing the shift, then definitely – it’s actually in the employer’s interest to help you transition into this new world.

We’ve recently been doing a whole range of assessments for companies and we’ve been breaking it into two concepts – the one is ‘Company Remote Readiness’ and the other is ‘Team Remote Working Maturity’. We’ve been doing this to get a sense of whether these companies are ready for their people to work remotely. In other words, if somebody has a laptop, then it’s great, they can take it home. But a lot of companies don’t have that. They have PCs, for example, in which case you can’t do your job from home. So those companies can’t even transition effectively to remote working. For those companies to be more effective in the future and actually get the benefits of remote working, they need to invest in training their staff from the bottom to the top, in how to adapt to this new way of working. A lot of this training, especially for senior managers is about loss; it’s about what behaviours they have lost by moving into remote work. They will no longer get to walk into the office and greet people – they lose that sense of comfort from having people around. Your traditional ways of management aren’t there anymore, so there’s a big sense of loss for managers, as well as employees, in this whole transition.

Songezo Mabece:
This has me thinking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution; South Africa was talking about it quite a lot, leading up to COVID. Job threats, job security, the advent of technology; we now know we can, in many respects, continue running an economy working off-site. Does this not accelerate, or should it not accelerate, the Fourth Industrial Revolution agenda altogether?

Nevo Hadas:
It 100% accelerates the Fourth Industrial Revolution agenda. Guaranteed. A lot of companies that we worked with were debating whether or not they should be allowing people to work from home, and discussing how to do that – and then COVID happened and they had to start working from home. A lot of those debates have ended and that’s bringing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

From a jobs perspective, there are two ways to look at it. If you have a high paying job or are fortunate enough to be in the IT sector, remote working sector or if you’re a knowledge worker, you don’t have to live in a big city anymore, you can live in a small city. This is a massive trend now. This is happening at the top global companies like Facebook. Even in our own business, we’ve had some of our team members saying, “I’m going to go live on a farm for three months.” Which is fine, it doesn’t make a difference. What’s interesting for me, is that it allows South African companies to compete globally without needing to have offices all around the world. Suddenly, it’s acceptable for you to not be there face-to-face with the customer to provide services and products. Suddenly, you don’t need offices in Europe, London, New Zealand or wherever to be a global business. This will hopefully help a lot of companies shift – to realize that you don’t need those big capital costs to expand. That could boost South African jobs and would also hopefully bring a lot of employment demand to South Africa, where we still have lower costs of employees when compared globally, but we also have very strong talent and very smart people. So yes, there is the risk, but I think there are also lots of opportunities if people are willing to grasp them and to see the glass as half full.

Listen: DYDX Partner Templar Wales Talks to ChaiFM: Working From Home

By | Future of Work, In the news, Remote Working | No Comments

Many people have to suddenly adapt to working or studying from home. It’s a major shift in approach for some, that will require mastering the use of new tools and methods to make sure the work gets done.

What can you do to be more effective working from home? And what have you done to help your team work better together?

Smollan and DYDX win at the 2020 Bookmarks Awards

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The COVID-19 led to the collapse of eventing worldwide and South Africa was no exception. While most events have just been cancelled, IAB Bookmark Awards joined educational institutes, musicians and niche interest meetups by creating a whole new online experience in almost no time at all.

We proud to announce that, together with the team at Smollan, DYDX ‘took home’ two Bookmark Awards. The judging panels awarded a Silver Craft Award for Excellence in Research and a Gold Pixel for Emerging Digital Technology: The Internet of Things (IoT).

“We believe the best way to fight poverty and environmental issues is to build inclusive, profitable businesses; this changes the mindset from dependent to independent, from despondent to engaged,” says David Smollan, CEO of Smollan.

“The two Bookmarks showcase our commitment to being a business with a purpose that serves our clients and the communities we work in. It is also indicative of our commitment and the quality of work achieved as a team with DYDX,” adds Smollan.

Excellence in Research Bookmark

The Bookmark was awarded to DYDX for the development of the innovative, iterative research process that enabled the rapid discovery and testing of insights into the South African informal market.

“Despite the size of the informal market (35% of all retail sales) there is very little data available and most of the data and estimates are enormously contradictory. Therefore, we needed an innovative research plan that supported the company’s ideation and experimentation flexibly and quickly,” says Smollan.

Templar Wales, Partner at DYDX, says that a hackathon was hosted as part of the research process before the final ideation session. “After weeks of ideation and further research a prototype, ‘Gcwalisa’, was created,” says Wales.

“‘Gcwalisa’, meaning ‘Fill up’ in Zulu, is an IoT product dispenser that allows customers to buy everyday products in whatever amounts they can afford, using their own containers and thereby eliminating the need for single-use packaging,” Wales adds.

“The solution was a sustainable, scalable business with a positive social and environmental impact while gathering valuable, granular purchase data for the brands,” Wales concludes.

Excellence in Emerging Technologies Bookmark

Smollan and DYDX also received a Bookmark for ‘Gcwalisa’ in the Excellence in Emerging Technologies: The Internet of Things (IoT) category, in which atypical Internet devices (not phones or computers) are used to achieve marketing and communication goals.

DYDX Partner, Nevo Hadas Discusses The Future of Productivity on 702

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Nevo Hadas, a partner at DYDX, chatted with 702’s Nickolaus Bauer about how companies can rethink the fundamentals of productivity in the workplace for effective results from their employees. What are the implications of the automation and the future of work for South Africa?

Listen to the discussion here:

Key Takeouts:

  • The traditional understanding of being productive is sitting on a chair in an office for 8 hours. 
  • Our ideas of what is considered as ‘productivity’ fundamentally stem from Adam Smith’s economic theories; which are hundreds of years old. 
  • At the time of constructing his theories, (including that of the circular economy) Adam Smith lived with his mother, did not contribute to running a household and had little other responsibility than his work. 
  • What creates value in an economy – things like looking after kids and ageing parents, in fact, anything that we actually spend money on or invest our time in or that we find valuable as human beings – did not make it into Adam Smith’s idea of productivity. 
  • Unfortunately, a lot of theories like Adam Smith’s have taken hold and a lot of what we perceive as valuable in the workplace is based on these theories, versus a more holistic view of what a person does which creates value for the company and society as a whole. 
  • If you have a broader idea of what productivity is, you realise that a) no one has to be glued to a seat in order to be productive, and b) it does not have to be 8 hours. In fact, globally there’s a big shift toward flex time and flexible working. 
  • This also shifts how you can be productive. As technology takes hold, a lot of tasks we do will not be necessary in future – things like forwarding emails or sifting through basic data can be done by bots meaning people will have more time for making decisions or for high-level functions versus these basic tasks. 
  • A big risk we face in South Africa is that the types of jobs we are currently creating are not in line with the types of jobs we will need in future. The big challenge for us is international technology impacting South Africans with more entry-level white-collar and administrative jobs as a lot of tasks within these roles can be automated. It’s not that the jobs will be unnecessary, it’s simply that many tasks can be automated so the nature of these jobs will change. 
  • Most jobs don’t require eight hours a day so you can be more effective with your time if some of your tasks are automated. The same technology that is terrifying for an employee can be enabling for an entrepreneur because you can perform at higher productivity and functionality without a huge team’s support. 
  • Freedom and flexibility will increase, spilling into family lives giving us more time for a better work/life balance. 
  • In terms of digital transformation, it’s hard to know exactly where South Africa is compared to the rest of the world because there are different types of economies in the country. Through experience working with many global organisations around the world, on a global trend perspective, we are about at least 8 years behind.
  • A lot of this has to do with a lacking investment into infrastructure required to support a remote workforce. Data is expensive and businesses don’t provide data subsidies. There are still a lot of PCs instead of laptops for staff to work with. Networks are not easy or not possible to be accessed remotely. These and many factors are holding back companies in South Africa. 


Nevo is the founding partner of DYDX and has led the development of “The Culture Canvas”—an open-source framework that makes work culture actionable for businesses to shape their team’s behaviours—as well as the latest ebook “Me.We.Us – Remote Team Management”, which is available for free download, and the 10-minute “Remote Team Maturity” assessment tool designed to help companies measure the effectiveness of their remote teams. 

DyDx Partner Templar Wales talks Human Centered Design – Business Day TV

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DyDx partner Templar Wales appeared on The Big Small Business Show on Business TV, where he unpacked some of the basics that go into HCD thinking, and how businesses could be looking to innovate with this approach.

The Big Small Business Show aims to give viewers practical and down-to-earth business advice. The programme is tailor-made for entrepreneurs, giving great insight and tips to those who want to grow their ventures, as well as those who want to take the step towards entrepreneurship.

Third-Party Cookie Crumbles

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Earlier this month Google signalled that it has surrendered a key front in the secret and massively complicated nerd-war being waged by Apple and others in the name of user privacy and security. 

Google quietly announced via its developer platform that it will be phasing out the manner in which it collects, stores and sells consumer information gathered by its super-dominant Chrome browser. Unsurprisingly, given that this information is the lifeblood of its advertising business it is committing to an awfully long sunset period of two years with lots of income-statement covering caveats. 

According to Geoff Cohen, partner at DYDX and former CEO of, in theory, this is a win for consumers. “It can’t really be argued that removing weaponised data from the hands of increasingly intrusive, unequally regulated, marketing superpowers is at face value a bad thing,” says Cohen.

But like the introduction of GDPR in Europe the way this particular retreat plays out may have some significant collateral damage impacting marketers, media owners and oddly further consolidating power in the hands of established platforms.

Cohen explains the winners and losers of these changes:  



  1. Consumers, kind of. Anything that protects consumers from needless exploitation is a good thing, but a large part of the functionality and frictionless when expect from our digital products is derived from the gathering of relevant data and behaviour.
  2. Facebook, Amazon and Google will be able to increase the amount they charge marketers to access their logged in, permissioned walled gardens in social, commerce and search. Other channels that have sizeable user data/registered consumers will have a marginally stronger hand, but not nearly as strong as the platforms.
  3. Adtech/Martech vendors clamouring to design, market and sell the latest technology suite and attendant three-letter acronym to increasingly swamped and confused marketers.
  4. Prospecting over remarketing. Without tracking and granular analytics, marketers will be forced to review their strategies, increasingly focusing on building top-funnel acquisition and brand building rather than aggressive remarketing and follow me everywhere ads.
  5. CRM and owned audiences. Registrations and utilizing every single available data stream will become, quite rightly, the norm. Direct communication, bypassing the platforms, will become the single largest potential for marketers in an anonymous world.



  1. Media owners who relied on user data to package and sell their readers in Google and Facebooks marketplace. Unless there is a concerted effort to form login, partnerships providing a scaled audience the media owners will again be forced to accept lower prices.
  2. Google, despite the long lead time it has given itself, the business is under significant regulatory pressure with competition complaints about market dominance being registered across the world. This is going to be a tricky time for them and could lead to some messy commercial outcomes.
  3. Digital analytics software is going to see a large drop in accuracy and granularity. For years business owners have relied on the insights provided by user data and behavioural tracking but in an anonymous world, these changes and we can expect to see a lot more “sample” data than the granularity we have come to expect.

Overall, these changes are overdue. The pendulum in digital marketing and user experience has swung all the way to creepy from contextually relevant and this is the impact of the broader market pushing back. Asking for a bit more respect and duty of care. “We should enjoy while it lasts before the pendulum swings back again as it inevitably will,” concludes Cohen. 

Smollan and DYDX transforming informal retail

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Retail innovation can increase revenue, reduce plastic and serve consumers’ unmet needs.

Leading international retail solutions company Smollan and DYDX, a global product and service design practice, partnered to deliver an innovative solution for the informal market that could both change how FMCG products are sold and reduce the use of single-use plastics.

The combined informal market represents 35% of all retail sales in SA. This market, however, is notoriously difficult for brands, as the unstructured distribution channels mean very little effective data can be gathered. Furthermore, due to low levels of affordability, brands have resorted to smaller packaged units to reach this market, mostly single-use plastics. This has created a gap between affordability for customers and brands’ responsibility to the environment.

The Gcwalisa dispensers, created by Smollan and DYDX, allow customers to purchase food and home care products in values from as little as R1. Spaza owners can provide the amount requested by customers quickly, thanks to onboard computers with IoT sensors measuring volume while dispensing.

Goods are dispensed into reusable containers, allowing brands to deliver bulk into the informal channel and for the shop-owners to distribute in micro sizes without single-use plastics. This takes significant costs out of the channel and creates new opportunities for consumers to purchase their preferred brands, even at very low volumes.

The dispensers are connected IoT devices, providing brands with detailed sales data from each shop, giving data granularity and insight that could revolutionise distribution, understanding of buying patterns and price points.

Using a structured design thinking and innovation process, the joint team, headed by Rudi Nienaber, Innovation Executive at Smollan, supported by DYDX, created a new way to sell products through the informal channels. “Innovation requires asking different questions and lots of on-the-ground research and prototyping.” said Nienaber, “Our starting point was to turn products into services which led to a series of new ideas, of which Gcwalisa was the best one.”

“We know that people have real affordability challenges, and price is often linked to distribution constraints of minimum-sized packaging. We wanted to change how pricing worked, allowing people to purchase FMCG products like they do airtime.

Another key factor is a positive social impact. By eradicating single-use plastic and packaging, we not only save brands and consumers money but also benefit the environment, which is critical. With major brands looking to reduce plastic usage but not impact sales this approach makes perfect sense,” says Mike Smollan, Chief Growth & Innovation Officer at Smollan.

Revealed at Smollan’s Inspire Evolve event, the project already has interest from a number of brands.  “Distribution into informal markets is not a “one size fits all” approach. While we can re-use the technology and approach, we are working with brands to understand both the unique dynamics of their market and the technical properties of their products to optimise the solution for them.” says Nevo Hadas, Managing Partner at DYDX.


DYDX speaks to SABC News about Smollan’s innovative new retail solution

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DYDX collaborated with retail solution company Smollan Group to create an innovative solution for the informal market.

The Gcwalisa dispenser provides a cost-effective solution for buying products, potentially changing how FMCG products are sold and helping to reduce the previous impact of the plastic packaging on the environment.

DYDX’s Templar Wales speaks to SA Today on SABC News about the dispenser, the process behind creating the solution, and how this has impacted on the community and the environment.