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Apple silently gets rid of customer reviews from its online store

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Ordinarily, when buying a product on the Apple Store or any other online store, you’ll have the option of reading through customer reviews that were written by people who have already purchased and used the product that you’re considering.

However, Apple has removed all customer reviews and ratings from its online store. AppleInsider reports that the change occurred around November 17th.

Apple is one company that is highly admired for having one of the best after-sales customer support for a tech company, but this latest news from the Cupertino giant might make potential customers assume otherwise. Apparently, the entire buyer review section is missing on Apple’s online retail store page.

Nonetheless, the move according to AppleInsider doesn’t appear to be a mistake from Apple, but rather an intentional push. The customer reviews section was apparently pulled over the weekend, starting from November 16, and no one is really sure why something like this has taken place. Although, the Ratings & Reviews section on Apple Store listings has been removed in at least the U.S., UK, and Australian regions.

Why this is weird is because customer reviews are often read by potential buyers to assess the longevity of a product and the experience of other users, mostly to see if that product is worth purchasing or not. Thus removing the ‘customer reviews’ section can potentially mean that Apple could lose out on future buyers.

It is possible to view the changes by looking at the Wayback Machine archive page, you’ll notice that customer reviews were present before. After scrolling through the first-generation Apple Pencil buy-page, you’ll notice that the ‘Ratings and Reviews’ section is no longer present.

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Apple Has Reportedly Removed All Customer Reviews From Online Store
Customer reviews before they were taken down

One possibility as to why the company did this would be that Apple decided not enough people are reading through customer reviews, or that it just doesn’t hold enough value for the cost of maintaining it. But surely, the Cupertino firm has data on how often these reviews are being read. For instance, something like the Lighting to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter had 735 one-star reviews, with many simply complaining about the removal of the headphone jack from iPhones.

Another possibility is that this is only a temporary change. It’s likely that Apple could be revamping this section for a future return, but we’ve yet to receive a confirmation from the company regarding this.

But just because customer reviews have been pulled from the Apple online store, doesn’t mean customers should be worried about making a future purchase. Apple’s products aren’t exclusive to its online store and can be found at places like Amazon, Best Buy, B&H and others, meaning customers can check out reviews and ratings there for better guidance.


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Africa’s Mergers and Acquisitions gain momentum during COVID19

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By Eric M.K Osiakwan

On the 10th of July 2020, Helios Holdings Limited announced a merger with Fairfax Africa Holdings Corporation to form Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation – a pan Africa focused alternative investment manager.

On the same day, Eversend, an African fintech startup also announced over a $1M raise through crowdfunding. Prior to that Helios announced a $100M investment from the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) into their fund IV.

On the 1st of July 2020, our portfolio company, www.hotelonline.co announced the acquisition of two travel tech companies. On 30th June 2020, www.msfafrica.com announced the acquisition of fellow fintech Beyonic based in Tanzania.

On 23rd June, 2020 www.acumen.org announced their exit from KopaGas of Tanzania as part of the $25M acquisition by Circle Gas.Then on 22nd January 2020, www.mypaga.com announced the acquisition of Apposit an Ethiopian software company as the entry strategy into the market. These recent deals have created undeniable momentum in mergers and acquisitions in Africa – with majority in tech — setting an unexpected tone for more positive developments in the second half of 2020 during this COVID crisis.

Whilst Covid19 has brought unimaginable devastation to the world and stocked racial revolt in America. Which is now spilling over to Europe, in Africa, our fast adaptation to the new normal spared us not only mass casualties and pain, but the lockdowns triggered an unintended consequence of speeding up the digital economy.

This resulted in investments in the second quarter like our portfolio company www.zulzi.com closing $2.5M and AMP Global Technologies closing a $2M prior to COVID19 setting the stage for our Africa original content format and series launching this quarter @ www.takebackthemic.com.

Then on 24th June 2020, www.ingressive.co closed their maiden $10M seed fund to invest in tech companies across Africa. On the same day, the Africa Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (AVCA) published their VC in Africa report for 2014 to 2019 showing a total of 613 deals totaling $3.9B with 2019 recording $1.4B of those transactions. Majority of those deals happened in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt.

South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana are four of the KINGS countries (excluding Ivory Coast) that I had postulated back in 2013 would be leading the digital economy in Africa. Ivory Coast was replaced on the list by Egypt partly because of the civil war of 2011 that ousted incumbent president Gbagbo and set back the country’s development tremendously. 

A lot of these deals were surely in the pipeline before COVID-19 but the fact that they still materialized is a function of resilience and the positive unintended consequence of the lockdowns across the continent. This momentum we are seeing in tech M&A is the result of the Capital, Capacity and Community building that has gone into the sector over the years which was accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdowns making online the new normal across Africa.

Off course some deals did not materialize, and we have seen some funds shut down due to the harsh environment.

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We have also seen African innovators launch innovations that are tackling the virus head-on and some of them could be big winners in the not too distant future. Some of these entrepreneurs have had to adapt and pivot under unusual conditions to launch these new ventures and also keep their boats sailing. The ingenuity of African entrepreneurs and tech ventures were put to great test under COVID-19 and some like HotelOnline a travel tech venture, which was severely impacted, pivoted towards a new business model. By the end of March, revenues had gone down to 20% and Endre Opdal the CEO was under intense pressure. His first move was to trim down the operations and staff which the board approved. The second step was evaluating the existing business to find the right pivot.

As investors and board members we rolled our sleeves and engaged with him to review things systematically – it was in that process that he came up with a new business line. The new line was always there in our blind spot but when necessity kicked in, we were able to spot it. We did not need to do any heavy lifting except to implement it right away with some minor tweaks. The new business line fetched $20K revenue in April increasing to $30K in May to make the business profitable again. This spoke to the speed of execution of the management team from loss-making in March to profitability in May. A second business line is now being implemented and yet to show results but a parallel process to make acquisitions of companies that were struggling under the crisis also gained momentum in April. On July 1st Hotelonline announced the acquisition of www.africabookings.com and www.cloud9.co.ke – two travel tech companies that were going under.

Cloud9 has had an existing working relationship with HotelOnline through our senior management team and that working relationship has been in place. They grew very fast and in 2019 merged with Heartbeat Venture.

Cloud9 is one of the portfolio companies of the Mesozi Group whose other company is Marketforce which raised $350K from Viktoria Business Angel Network in May 2020.

Whiles their Marketforce venture is doing well under the crisis Cloud9 got severely hit so instead of shutting it down they agreed to an acquisition which now gives them shares in Hotelonline. Africabookings was started by Bruce Tappings and had Kanak Puri as one of their investors who was also an investor in HotelOnline. In May, Endre saw that they were shutting down due to the crisis so he reached out and by the end of June they consummated another share swap that allows HotelOnline to leverage their existing customer base across Africa.

Whiles a lot of the current transactions have been in the pipeline prior to Covid, the acceleration to digital models has increased investment activity to support organic growth as well as expansion through acquisition and consolidation opportunities. This should continue to grow in H2 as existing portfolios are stabilized in the new normal. Suggesting that the continent’s resilience to the virus has far reaching implication on the business front. As the continent begins to re-open in the second half of the year, we are most likely going to see more of such deals that would propel Africa’s 21st century agenda. 


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Contact tracing critical tool in controlling COVID-19: Kagwe

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Health CS Mutahi Kagwe says contact tracing is a critical tool for controlling the pandemic through interruption of the transmission chain by early detection and isolation of cases.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Speaking Monday during the official hand over of vehicles to the County Directors of Health, Representatives of COG, and Nairobi Metropolitan Service, the CS said all counties are required to have rapid response/contact tracing.

“At the time of response to an alert on a suspected case, contacts are listed for follow-up and investigation and close contacts are tested and the rest are followed up for 14 days. I must say that this has not been an easy task, I congratulate our rapid response and surveillance teams for this great work they have been and continue doing. Initially, we were using telephone calls to get in touch with the contacts, but we are now rolling out a web based application, which is linked to the Kenya electronic medical records.” Said Kagwe

So far there are 229 teams in all the counties.

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He added that the National Response and Contact Tracing team is currently conducting training for the teams on the usage of the web based tool and data management.

He said transport has been one of the key challenges identified especially in accessing the rural areas as the government works at providing of quality health care.

“Today, as we continue with this fight, I am delighted that the contact tracing team is receiving a major boost from our development partners. It is my pleasure to preside the handover ceremony and distribution of Rapid Response Vehicles to various counties.  These vehicles have been procured by the Covid-19 Health Emergency Response Project(C-HREP) in my Ministry, at a cost of Kshs.102 million.” He added

The vehicles to be handed over to 13 counties, will boost capacity in contact tracing and surveillance as we work to curtail the spread of the virus in the country.

The counties identified to benefit from this support include; Nairobi which will get two vehicles one for Kenyatta National Hospital and the other, for the newly formed Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

Others are Mombasa, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos, Nyeri, Migori, Busia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Taita Taveta, Elgeyo Marakwet and Kisii.

The overall C-HERP project and the outcomes are designed to assist countries to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19, and to strengthen the national systems for public health preparedness and responsiveness.

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Kagwe said the project was selected for COVID-19 financing, because of the strategic place Kenya holds when it comes to global connectivity and travel, and the risks posed.

The C-HERP is provided through the World Bank Group Fast Track Facility, as part of a Global COVID-19 Multi-phase Program Approach (MPA).

“Swift detection of an outbreak, assessment of its epidemic potential and rapid emergency response can reduce avoidable mortality and morbidity, reduce the economic, social and security impacts. Failure in the rapid mobilization of financing and coordination of response, results in unnecessary casualties and significant socioeconomic consequences. By focusing on the containment, diagnosis and treatment of patients, the proposed project seeks to control the disease outbreak and limit socio-economic losses.” He said

He noted that critical interventions are needed to reduce morbidity and mortality rates from existing and emerging infectious diseases, curtail the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the social impacts of the outbreak.

The development of the National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan includes, strengthening of the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre, for efficient emergency response for multiple hazards, strengthening surveillance and information systems. It also aims at increasing laboratory capacity, improved infection and prevention control, as well as case management, improve disease surveillance and emergency response in the country.

Monday, 189 people have tested positive from a sample size of 1,205 tested in the last 24 hours bringing to 10,294 the number of those who have tested positive so far in the country.

This pushes the cumulative tests figures to 216, 242.

In terms of gender 106 are males and 83 are females while the youngest is a five (5) year old child and the oldest is 71.

The distribution of the positive cases by counties is as follows; Nairobi 147, Kiambu 20, Machakos 11, Kajiado 5, Mombasa 2,Uasin Gishu, Kisumu, Laikipia and Kericho have one (1) case each.

The distribution of the cases by sub counties is as follows; in Nairobi, the 147 cases are in; Dagoretti North (77), Embakasi East (10), Makadara (10), Embakasi South (9), Kibra (9), Embakasi West (6), Langata (4), Kamukunji and Kasarani (2) cases each while Dagoretti South, Embakasi Central and Embakasi North have one (1) case each.

In Kiambu, the 20 cases are in Kiambu Town (6), Kikuyu, Kabete, Kiambaa, Ruiru and Thika have two (2) cases each, while in Machakos, the (11) cases are in Athi River (7), Machakos (3), and Masinga (1).In Gatundu South, Githunguri, Juja and Limuru have one (1) case each.

In Kajiado, the 5 cases are in Kajiado North (4), and Kajiado East (1). The 2 cases in Mombasa are in Kisauni and Nyali.

65 patients were discharged from various hospitals bringing to 2,946 the number of recoveries from the disease in the country.

However, 12 Kenyans succumbed to the virus bringing the total number of fatalities to 197.

“All the deaths are from Nairobi County, nine from various hospitals, while the three are community deaths. This is the highest number to fatalities recorded in a single day since this pandemic struck. I want to pass my sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones.” Noted the CS

 

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Significance of building a customer loyalty marketing list

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Customer loyalty offers you a greater return on time, money, and efforts invested in providing customers with better services. When customers are loyal to your brand or business, they are more likely to buy more regularly from you.

Moreover, they also refer your company to others when someone asks for recommendations. Knowing the needs of customers, offering quality products, best services, and handling their complaints promptly are some of the great ways to build and boost customer loyalty. However, many businesses are implementing customer loyalty programs to build a broader loyal customer base and repeat business. A loyalty program gives your existing customers a tested reason to visit your business. When you offer free points to your customers for purchases, they return to your business to redeem earned points for something of great value. 

Customer loyalty marketing, list building, is one of the critical aspects of implementing a loyalty program and making it successful. It also helps you grow and flourish your brand in many ways. Customer lists for loyalty marketing are created based on different criteria like customer buying behavior, buying habits, and money spent in your business in a specific period of time. 

Elements of a virtuous customer loyalty marketing list

When you want to increase customer loyalty by offering them personalized offers and incentives, using your customer database could be a great way to get started. The database can create a customer loyalty marketing list to get more participants for your loyalty program. A virtuous, loyal customer list comes with a lot of customer details like contact details and other insights such as buying patterns, age brackets, total sum money spent on your products, birthdays, and anniversaries of customers. When you have all these details on hand, you can create personalized offers and incentives for your customers to make them feel unique and valued. Lack of a customer loyalty marketing list makes your business unable to have control over when and how to boost sales.

The method of creating such lists varies significantly from brand to brand and based on what customer detail requirements for a program. Picking the right customer loyalty software that comes with customer loyalty marketing list features helps you create customer lists without spending more money and effort. 

Here is why you need to create customer loyalty marketing lists

When you provide excellent customer services, personalization is the key. More and more businesses are dealing with their customers on a more personal level to keep their customers engaged. Similarly, marketing your loyalty program to different customer lists (segmented customers) can help you get more from your loyalty program. It allows you to present your customers with special offers and incentives based on their spending habits and other shopping insights. 

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Here are the reasons why you should create customer loyalty marketing lists for increased customer retention and sales.

Increased loyalty program satisfaction 

When you segment your customer reward program marketing list, you can intuitively market your program by offering special incentives and offers. By the following segmentation, you can generate the most return on investment. Experts say that customers are more satisfied with a loyalty program when personalization is done well in the program by offering personalized incentives to members. For that reason, offering personalized awards to your customers based on the customer’s lists generated by the software makes your loyalty program more productive.

Personalized Incentives and Rewards

The customer loyalty marketing list can help you keep customers engaged with your brand by creating special offers and personalized rewards according to their loyalty to your brand or company. Personalization in the loyalty program makes your customers feel unique and valued. Lack of personalization indicates to your customers that you are not vigilant to their interests. As a result, they are more likely to spend money elsewhere. 

You can Send Exactly what your Customers Expect

Everyone knows that companies and businesses collect their information and personal data, including emails, spending habits, even IP addresses. Armed with this information, companies best put the data to good use. It is the place where building a customer loyalty marketing list can come in handy to send offers; they love to receive. Successful customer segmentation in the loyalty program makes it easier for you to create and send offers, rewards, and incentives to meet their individual needs and expectations.

Boosted Revenues

When you provide customers with something fascinating via your loyalty program, they are more likely to visit your business for more purchases. Presenting them with personalized ads based on their interests and spending habits is a great way to influence them for more spending. A fully customized loyalty program using segmented customer lists, encourage your customers to visit your outlet or online store for frequently. It incredibly helps you grow your sales and boost the bottom line in a significant way.


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