Discerning South Africans would have noticed that more and more shoppers were whipping out their cell phones alongside their wallets at till points this last holiday season.
Shoprite and Checkers enabled their customers to get instant shopping discounts on their cell phones with EeziCoupons, an app that has effectively replaced outdated paper coupons. Consumers simply need to view coupons on their cellphones, purchase those products in-store and enter their unique code at the till’s pin pad, giving them instant access to relevant discounts. Pick ‘n Pay and MTN recently introduced Mobile Money, a system allowing their clientele to send and receive money through any active cellphone number in South Africa, pay for goods and services, and deposit and withdraw cash at participating outlets. KFC has started the move to ensure their advertising campaigns can include mobile discounts and rewards, which will be digitally enabled in their stores.
And the list goes on.
But very few people realise that although these applications, vouchers and payments are all varied and unique, they are all enabled through a single platform. This Platform is wiCode, a product of local software pioneers, wiGroup. The company provides a technology platform that acts both as an aggregator and as an interoperable layer between retailers and mobile payment offerings. These offerings include mobile in-store payments, mobile money transfer, mobile coupons and vouchers, and mobile loyalty.
“There are hundreds of applications and transaction offerings being developed every single day,” says Bevan Ducasse, CEO of WiGroup. “But many of these great ideas are never realized because they cannot access retail stores. Retailers require training, time, investment and complex integration with their existing point of sale systems – and even then, they are restricted because they can’t add other transactional services from different companies to that system once implemented. We decided that – rather than competing with banks, coupon providers, application and payment offerings, we would focus on building a platform that enables all these players to access retail stores.”
wiCode and wiTag has allowed retailers the benefit of only have to integrate with one platform and to train their staff to operate one system. Once implemented, the wiCode and wiTag platform will pair any offering (whether a coupon, a reward, a payment or a cash deposit or withdrawal) triggered from any mobile device to their system in seconds.
Essentially, the platform allows retailers to be as creative as they want to be, deploying as many mobile-based campaigns, promotions and payment offerings as they chose.
“This the start of a new era of mobile transacting,” Ducasse says. “A range of companies and developers are now able to link their applications into the POS system, without placing a heavy time or technological investment on the retailers. It seamlessly aggregates all mobile transactions across any device in any store. Retailers can give their imagination free rein – using these services to gain insight into their customers, test products and promotions, run convenient loyalty programs or simply offer great discounts.”
wiGroup also created the wiCoupon, which enables retailers to consolidate rich customer data (particularly shopping preferences such as price sensitivity) into a single data repository. This allows companies to target customers using their preferences as well as access marketing research in real time from their PCs.
“We are effectively closing the marketing loop,” Ducasse says. “We’re not just offering a promotional tool, we’re offering companies the ability to measure ROI and track results. Brands can offer discounts and promotions and track the progress in specific stores. It is a great way to tailor promotions and offers without the hassle of rolling out and redeeming paper-based vouchers.”