Getting into the customer’s pocket

The imminent mCommerce boom presents great opportunities to improve business by engaging with the customer on a more personal level, says Stanchion Payment Solutions Product Manager Carol Simpson.

While mobile penetration in South Africa is high, uptake of mobile commerce has not been as rapid here as it has been elsewhere in the world. But this is about to change, and retailers need to start preparing for an mCommerce boom.

mCommerce adoption in South Africa has been slow to take off for numerous reasons. Smartphone penetration is only now beginning to reach critical mass, data costs have been high, high speed mobile data has become widely available only relatively recently, and consumers have been hesitant to shop using their mobile devices because of fears of security.

But this is all changing. Now, as smartphones become the norm, high speed data becomes more affordable, and consumers start trusting mobile as a transaction platform, we envision that there will be a rapid adoption of mobile commerce. South Africa’s large Millennial population will pioneer this move to mCommerce, leading to a boom in mCommerce and ultimately, an era when even payment cards are outdated and mobile wallets are the norm.

The imminent mCommerce boom will present numerous opportunities to business. Because Millennials will use their mobiles for comparison shopping in-store, marketers will be able to compete more aggressively for market share among willing shoppers. Customer satisfaction can be enhanced by enabling more channels, more convenience, greater interaction and personalised interaction with the customer. Mobiles facilitate greater shopping innovation, such as the use of Location based services (LBS) for marketing and service delivery, or the use of QR tokens for product information or faster checkouts. The possibilities are endless, and will allow companies to develop important competitive advantages.

However, in order to take advantage of the mCommerce boom, local companies should be strategising now. Tapping in to the mCommerce market can be complex, and has to be done well. In fact, a poor attempt at mCommerce could do more harm than good.

To be effective in future, companies need to set up mobile commerce departments tasked with delivering on a mobile commerce strategy that includes infrastructure, engagement plans, payment security and return on investment.

When planning this strategy, it is important to keep in mind:

  • Business must focus on omni-channel engagement. All channels must deliver a consistent message and user experience, and must engage with back end systems. All relevant data needs to be centralised and interpreted correctly, with data and analytics meeting the targeted requirements
  • Security of payment and customer information is not negotiable.
  • Consumers compare prices – therefore mCommerce offerings must be price competitive.
  • mCommerce sites need to deliver enough information about products, while remaining concise and to the point. Too much information can be overwhelming on a small screen.
  • Graphics are attractive, but too many graphics can slow down an mCommerce site and use up data.
  • Enquiries must be easy – users want one-click information and enquiry functionality. Any enquiries must be responded to almost instantly.


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Getting into the customer’s pocket