One of the tenets of success, is to look at new way ways of doing things. I want to share with you a concept I have been working on for a while: a mainstream shop that sells smaller portions than the standard. Here is the thinking.

Those who know me, know that I am a contrarian, everybody be saying “the future of retail is on-demand“, I say sure, just not in a poor African country like South Africa. The future of retail in SA is smaller portions.

With more people on welfare than employed, inflation far outrunning income increases, population growth far exceeding economic growth (there will be too little work for current students, matriculants or graduates), possibly the highest unemployment rate in the world (including if we count war zones) and a president that looks like a deer in headlights when asked what he is going to do to fix things; South Africa’s future retail will look more like the poor black townships: small portions, teabags sold loose, flour by the cup, single diapers etc. And the money will be made by adjusting supply chains and retail accordingly.

If we look at modern South African retail, Shoprite Checkers, Picknpay that is only for middle-income and rich people, Woolworths that is only for HNWI’s (high-net-worth individuals), South Africa is so unequal we don’t have a 1% more like a 0.1%. Most people in SA are on social grants how on earth can they even afford to shop at Shoprite escapes me when even I shop at discount and clearance stores.

South Africa’s future retail will look like this:
Current & Future:
Eggs sold in trays, dozen-half dozen. Look at Mr. Money Bags over here buying 6 eggs! Eggs will be sold loose in single 1’s.
Shampoo: 400ml, 500ml, 1 Liter. No Way Jose! Shampoo will be sold in 50ml, 100ml bottles.
Sunflower cooking oil: Currently 375ml, 500ml, 2l. What!?!? Are you Warren Buffet? Oil must me sold in 50ml-100ml as well.
Whatever gets sold by the kilo must be sold by the 100g, 200g, 250g etc.

OK OK I’ll stop being sarcastic but you are seeing where I am going with this. With cost of living far exceeding salaries and record homelessness, South Africa will get its day of reckoning where it will find equilibrium where the reality match the majority and sugar will be sold by the cup – either that or the whole country will descend into anarchy once the pots run empty. And that it not just because I am a prophet of doom, permabear, pessimist, realist. It will happen because South Africa is a poor country living above its means. The chickens will come home to roost. Mark my words! If middle-income people are feeling the heat from rising electricity, water and petrol, rates etc. then you can be sure as hell the poor are feeling the fire.

Now there are going to be geniuses saying there are legacy “standard sizes” ja maybe in the Queens SA. Manufacturers, importers and supply chains will have to adapt FINISH AND KLAAR.

Let me explain my rationale. If I earn minimum wage, what is that in SA? let’s say R4k a month. When I am done paying my public transport, I have R100 a day to live on.
Currently R100 buys me: Two to three random items of “standard size”
With smaller portions R100 buys me: Ten items of smaller portions. You will no longer need to make a choice of between some stuff that you won’t need all of right now anyway. You can buy the exact portion you need right now.

You think I am joking? At the moment, you can only buy cotton buds in the hundreds and cotton wool minimum 50g and that cost almost R50 together. I present you with the small portion of cotton buds and cotton wool:
Wholesale pricing on the above is R1.50. That is the New Dawn! You don’t need more than 5 cotton buds or four cotton wool balls at a time. Can you see people who have made their money from the ground up don’t look like a deer in headlights they twist and turn to come up with solutions.

Small portions will go mainstream in SA, we will start informally, small encroachment, then we will build special packaging facilities only filling in smaller portions and then retail stores only selling smaller portions. Every single product needs to be adapted to make it more affordable and the only way to do that is smaller portions. You heard it here first!