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Retail networking forum comes to SA
OpenRoom Events returned to South Africa to present their First Retail Technology Forum on September 12th and 13th. CIOs, IT, Infrastructure, Systems and Network Services Managers from most of the major retailers gathered in Cape Town, the hub of South African retail, to meet with providers of retail solutions and technology for a day-and-a-half of pre-matched appointments and informal networking. Clocking up nearly 11,500 outlets between them, the foundations were set for some serious networking opportunities.
The premise of the Forum – doing business and capitalising on precious time, by forging relationships with countless companies in just one-and-a-half days – was not lost on delegates. “This has been brilliant: I’ve had 16 meetings in one day and I don’t normally meet this number of people in an entire year. It’s been really worthwhile” said Renier Hugo of TFG - a sentiment echoed by one of the vendors, Brooks Wallace at Trustwave who commented, “The forum put us in front of 'must have' clients that we may have struggled to meet outside the event.”
Opening the agenda were sessions from the forum’s Gold and Silver Partners – Mustek, Argility, Smart Axess and Expand Networks. The highlight was an inspiring presentation from Mick Yates of dunnhumby who led the audience through his vision of the future examining how the retail sector needs to interact with the new world of mobile communications and social networking.
All this was a prelude to the main event – OpenRoom’s distinctive speed meetings program. Nearly 400 pre-matched appointments took place between Africa’s premier retailers and some of the best suppliers in the business. Engen, HomeChoice, Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Woolworths, Truworths, Spar, and Sasol were just some of the names who interacted with a select group of leaders in the retail technology sector. Said Marius van Vuuren, Project Manager at Massbuild: “Every single vendor I saw today is a likely to be of value. I’ve never seen so many of such relevance in one day.”
Feedback has been resoundingly positive. Most of the delegates experienced OpenRoom’s unique format for the first time: “A rewarding and memorable event. With the speed meetings we went straight to the point and saved time in the process” said Chrinus Genga of National Oil Corporation Kenya. And from Zaahir Gamieldien of Shoprite Checkers: “We have identified a few initiatives that we want to drive internally to Shoprite from what we have learnt at this forum.”
Importantly, the event achieved its aim, and business was done. Brandon Rochat of Expand Networks, one of the Forum’s Silver Partners, said, “The retail show was fantastic and well worth our time and finances to be there. We were able to get five confirmed leads and projects for 2012, as well as to confirm support from our current customers to go further with us next year. The speed meetings are not for the faint hearted but great fun!”
Further endorsement came from Patrick Kelly at Caltex who gave us his take on the format: “Meeting so many good vendors in this speed meeting format makes you think about the way you do things. We need to work smarter not harder – and this is a good first step.”The Retail Technology Forum will be returning to South Africa in 2012.
A great opportunity to meet various suppliers: the short meeting sessions worked very well and the informal breaks allowed for opportunities to continue discussions.
Kevin Egberink, Vivo Energy
OpenRoom runs a global portfolio of B2B forums and its business model is built around the success of combining networking with focused, pre-matched appointments.
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