On top of their Game

by Dave Nemeth. Game’s new concept store in Mall of Africa has lessons for other retailers.

by Dave Nemeth. The last time I got excited about a big box store was probably one of my visits to IKEA during one of my many retail trips overseas. I have never been inspired by South Africa’s mega-stores and, whilst some have an outstanding assortment of product, very few provide a pleasant shopping experience. At the bottom of my list was Game. Their garish logo was accompanied  in store by shocking layouts, bad signage, and product adjacencies. In fact, the stores always looked dirty and uncared for.

When I heard that Game had just launched their new concept store in Mall of Africa, I had to rush out and see for myself exactly what improvements had been made. Having spent years in retail in a variety of senior positions and having travelled  the globe looking at the finest retail stores, I am exceptionally critical when it comes to analysing the retail landscape. Let me start off with my impression – I was absolutely blown away!

Everything about this store was incredible, including their entrance. This in itself is inviting, with an attention to the floor detail which they have varied throughout the store, instead of just using  a standard vinyl or floor tile everywhere. The store is thoughtfully laid out with great signage in every section. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to navigate one’s way around a store which has not considered their directional signage. It is difficult to make a large format store look tidy and neat but, through clever segmentation, they have achieved this whilst still creating ample space around the product displays. The lighting is more than adequate for this kind of expanse.

Care has been taken in the product layouts and pricing was very evident. If you are uncertain or cannot find a price on a product there are ample, readily accessible price scanning booths allowing for easy clarification. QR codes have also been implemented to allow for more detailed information on certain products to be obtained or even to order them online.

The sports section features a cycle track where youngsters can actually try out bicycles. By placing the lawn mowers and outdoor furniture on fake grass improves the overall visual experience of this big box. The store encourages you to try out products, whether it is a pram or a  lounger, as well as them having added some unique elements and technological features. I think the vending machines with items such as cell phone cables, razor blades, etc., make great sense as you no longer have to queue at a counter to obtain things which are normally under lock and key. Simply select, swipe a card, and leave.

Other key features which have been deployed and  are not visible to the human eye, according to various sources, include:

  • ESL: This technology provides staff with information on factors such as rate of sale, days of stock cover and location of stock in the stockroom.
  • Smart Labels: These labels make it easier to track and manage stock in the stockroom.
  • Trackmatic Phase 2: This technology not only allows Game to track trucks carrying stock; but provides the retailer improved visibility on the type and volume of stock being carried.
  • Smart Camera Solution: This allows Game to manage queueing time for customers in stores, as well as to secure its stock receiving bays.

I have no doubt that, by rolling out these new store formats, it will benefit the chain’s bottom line, which has been struggling over the years. Well done to Game for taking the lead, at a time when retailing in general is under so much pressure.


Retailing Africa’s retail analyst and columnist, Dave Nemeth is trend forecaster and business consultant at Trend Forward, and a design thinker, innovator, business re-designer, trend analyst, keynote speaker and writer.



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