Has the mobile tipping point arrived?

Twenty five percent of the world’s leading internet retailers saw 50% of their sales from mobile over the past year. This is a first for the industry and a significant tipping point, knocking desktop and tablet sales off the podium. According to leading digital advertising company Criteo, apps are delivering double the user retention power of websites, with m-store customers more likely to purchase in-app than on any other online retail platform.

The Digital Evolution Index developed by MasterCard rates South Africa as one of the fastest growing digital economies in Africa. Online and mobile shopping has taken off in recent years, with all major banks offering free or relatively low-cost online purchasing capabilities to their customers.

“People spend a lot of time browsing on their phones and in-app instant payment is the most convenient method of purchasing,” says Raymond Wynne, CEO of mobile tech company Chat Find. The company’s flagship app brings mobile commerce, invoicing, location-sensitive marketing and direct-to-business chat capabilities to business owners and freelancers.

Reflecting the maturity of the market, South African shoppers have high standards for their commerce tools. Online ticketing company Webtickets report a marked shift towards mobile transactions in 2016, also noting that their customers expect ease-of-use, consistency and security when doing so.

“South Africans have exposure to the tools used by mobile retail giants – we have come to expect quality products from local businesses too. Saturating our market with sub-par apps won’t work,” says Wynne.

Building quality commerce apps comes at a high price tag and a long process of review and improvement. The Criteo report highlights the importance of unified, consistent and relevant customer experiences that encourage discovery, simplify product browsing and optimise checkout.

The team at Chat Find have spent three years developing and testing their app in line with these and other industry insights. It is capable of servicing both hyperlocal markets and whole industries; “Whether connecting with shoppers at a farmer’s market or providers in a multinational shipping industry, the direct chat, invoicing and payment capabilities deliver the full convenience of mobile tech,” says Wynne.

The app went public in July and has seen rapid uptake across three South African cities, with London, Chicago and Dublin soon to follow. Realising the value of the product, Chat Find have built a white label version available for adoption by brands and corporates.

“Mobile commerce is the way forward. A necessary expense, but one that stands to deliver huge returns for those leading the pack,” says Wynne.

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