The World Bank’s latest South Africa Economic Update cites low levels of innovation as one of the country’s weaknesses. CEO of Chat Find and Viral Vote, Raymond Wynne, discusses further.
Watch the interview here:
The World Bank’s latest South Africa Economic Update cites low levels of innovation as one of the country’s weaknesses. CEO of Chat Find and Viral Vote, Raymond Wynne, discusses further.
Watch the interview here:
You have a business. You’re fantastic at what you do. How do you get yourself noticed? For the small entrepreneur, the micro enterprise or average small to medium enterprise (SME) with a limited budget and resources, the opportunities are limited. Until now. Enter Chat Find, a digital community noticeboard with a social media feed, m-commerce capabilities and direct chat functionality designed to boost business and community.
“We love the idea of growing hyper-local business hubs, and with this app, every suburb, city and industry can boost its economic activity,” says Raymond Wynne, CEO of Chat Find. “The app encourages networking and connecting like-minded people who are looking to do business in ways convenient for everyone.”
The app itself is easy to use. Log in, grant it access to images, select an image (upload business cards or files to the mobile device if required) from the camera roll, and go. Setting up a business is equally simple, and seems to be designed for the time constraints that impact on the business owner. No need to fiddle about, just get in and get started. Once inside the app, the customer can search for specific items that have been arranged according to their relevance and proximity. From coffee and cake, to an electrician, to a tattoo artist specialising in alien abduction tattoos (really), there is a business flavour to suit all tastes.
What makes this an interesting concept is the fact that the app is focusing on the local and the relevant. Facebook, Yellow Pages, Google – most apps and solutions don’t really work that well in the South African context. Facebook is tedious at best, US-centric at worst, and most solutions expect the business to pay up in order to benefit.
“We didn’t want our app to cost the business any money or need them to have marketing, online or tech skills,” says Wynne. “The final version of Chat Find provides a mobile shopfront for free, with m-commerce capabilities that are extremely useful for the SME. It’s a space tailored for transactions, with plenty of capabilities.”
The app has taken three years to grow from an ingenious idea into a sassy marketing tool. It is under the ownership and direction of an international board of directors, which includes Wynne from South Africa as the CEO. The company raised $2.5 million in seed capital and is in the process of raising the next $2.5 million while simultaneously heading towards its first venture capital investment.
“Pilot versions of the app were released in 2015 and its current form has been in the app stores since 2016,” says Wynne. “To ignite adoption and growth, we have had representatives in cities across South Africa, London, San Francisco, Dublin and Chicago working to get businesses on the app and actively engaged in the communities.”
There are two ways to use Chat Find. The first is as a customer, the second is as a business or freelancer selling a service or product. Customers don’t pay to browse the businesses and can chat directly with business owners through the app; they can also buy products straight from the app. The freelancer and business owner can use the app to issue invoices and market themselves within a 24km radius of their physical address for free. Money is made through the option to boost the m-store’s geographical reach – business owners and brands can expand the reach of their posts to 48km for R26, 96km for R40, and nationally for R120. Preference isn’t given to paid posts over unpaid ones so nobody gets drowned out by those with bigger wallets.
“Our biggest challenge to date has been the technology,” says Wynne. “Developing complex and fully secure mobile software has taken time. This is now our biggest advantage as our product is user-friendly and highly functional. We can also white label it for use by big businesses that understand the importance of m-commerce and search and communication tools, but fi nd the price tag of building the tech from scratch to be off-putting.”
User insights have also played their part in making the technology more accessible and reliable. The process has been painful – nobody fancies the criticism of a frustrated user – but each pivot has helped the company take Chat Find another step closer to commercial success.
“Our business is all about tech and we’ve put all our efforts into designing a slick, secure and user-friendly mobile app,” adds Wynne. “We are currently launching the fi nal product in South Africa, with the UK and US to follow shortly after. We want to see communities and cities adopt the app, generate commerce and build strong local economies.”
Currently, there are more than 2 000 businesses registered on Chat Find in South Africa, and there have been more than 200 000 downloads across iOS and Android since the launch. In addition to the businesses, there is also a thriving freelance and professional community that uses the app to promote their individual profi les. Chat Find is a neat niche fi ller that has the potential to support the battered SMEs as they face the turbulence of the recession and economic upheaval that lies ahead.
“Our driver is the desire to make the power of tech available to more people and business owners, empowering them to reach their markets more effectively and make more money,” concludes Wynne.
This article appeared in Brainstorm Magazine:
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.
In a struggling economic climate, more people find themselves carrying two or more job titles. Increasingly so, independent professionals are using mobile technology to create ecosystems of work they enjoy. Who says you can’t drive an Uber in the morning, design websites all afternoon and cater your own food company at night?
“Freelancing full or part-time is an appealing way to secure multiple income sources, but it’s not always easy to get established and make the money you want,” says Melina Lewis, Head of Business Development at mobile commerce and networking app Chat Find.
Once stigmatised as an inability to secure permanent employment, the word “freelancer” is starting to shed its negative connotations. The Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor survey for 2017 found that 37% of 943 working respondents reported having more than one job, with many branching out from their primary career with an unrelated offering.
Mobile commerce apps are embracing the trend, “Freelancers and businesses can now create their own mobile shopfronts, where they showcase their skills and services, and make themselves available for other users to contact and endorse,” says Lewis.
The Chat Find app, which is available for download on Android and IOS, offers business owners and freelancers invoicing, secure mobile payment and direct chat capabilities. It allows users to search for specific services, within broader categories as well as exact geographic locations.
In the process of getting local businesses and freelancers on board, Lewis and her team have gathered insight on how individuals can best market their services. See some of her tips below:
Signing up and posting on Chat Find is free, there is no mark-up on payments or sales processed through the app.
A new app is offering businesses, large and small, a commercially viable mobile commerce platform. With South African mobile users consuming an average of around 2.4-hours of media per day through their handheld devices, mobile is a crucial space for business to connect and transact with customers.
“The South African market, in particular has been touted as ripe for m-commerce for a while, but until now there have been no options for businesses beyond developing their own expensive websites or apps, or selling products through online retailers,” says Chat Find CEO Raymond Wynne.
With the app, anybody with a product or service to sell, can create a free mobile shopfront – one guaranteed to tap into existing and new local customer networks. The geolocation technology in Chat Find populates users’ feeds with posts from businesses and service providers within a 24 kilometre radius of their current location; “For businesses, this translates to reaching the people most likely to purchase from you,” says Wynne.
Users are also able to search for what they are looking for – with results ordered by proximity and relevance, ensuring local businesses are prioritised. Going beyond just putting businesses on the map, Chat Find’s search tool picks up listed stock, services and promotions. For example, a user could search for “running shoes” and “head torch” together, bringing up any stores that offer one or both.
Market place studies have shown that while South Africans can be reluctant to purchase tangible products online, their purchasing decisions are made before stepping into a store. Almost a third of consumers in South Africa assess elements like stock availability, pricing, alternative options, specifications and customer reviews online before going in-store to purchase.
“With Chat Find, customers are alerted to deals and specials, but are then able to come in-store to see a product in real life before purchasing. Alternatively, they can buy it instantly on the app, request delivery or collect from the store,” says Wynne.
As with other social media platforms, the app allows direct chat – both in-app and to email. Unlike other platforms, such as Facebook, running promotions on the app is free. “Most sites now require spend in order for business pages to appear on their customers’ feeds. We saw the opportunity to develop something that had both business and consumer interests in mind. We created an appropriate space for promotion without irritating consumers, that functions like a community noticeboard on your mobile,” says Wynne.
“Chat Find is designed to promote and grow local economies by connecting customers with businesses in their communities, giving them the power of m-commerce,” says Wynne.
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With 2.3 billion smartphones in use today⁴, customers will tap, touch, swipe and click their phones 2,617 times a day⁵. Research also shows that people spend 90% of their mobile time using apps⁶. It is therefore critical for businesses to be accessible to their customers through their mobile devices. Often this requires costly websites that are not truly responsive on mobile, and are difficult to manage by the business owner.
Chat Find is a secure, user-friendly app that is a mobile marketplace. Local traders and professionals are able to showcase products and services and promote deals for free. They can also sell directly to customers, issue customised invoices and get paid instantly via debit or credit card, or PayPal. This enables businesses to be commercially viable on mobile.
The geolocation technology in Chat Find gives customers the ability to search local communities for services and products, driving improved engagement with a trade local focus. Secure, instant payments via debit or credit cards and PayPal are even supported within chats for greater convenience.
Chat Find CEO Raymond Wynne explains that the app is unlike any other on the market, “Consumers are more mobile savvy than ever and practical convenience is key. That’s why we wanted to create a smartphone app that supports local business through free advertising and smart payments”.
Businesses are constantly looking for ways to engage their customers on mobile, beyond social media. Chat Find’s mobile marketplace creates a localized shopping experience from the screen of a mobile phone. The user experience is engaging, visual and supports instant mobile shopping for any size retailer.
Wynne adds that Chat Find connects a customer with local business networks in a way that’s never happened before. “Chat Find provides simple chat functionality for instant communication with customers, while posts can be shared to Facebook or sent via email and SMS for effective promotion through one app”.
That’s free advertising and chats, mobile invoicing and instant payments – all on your phone!
The world is currently experiencing a seismic shift in technology with the consumer-driven movement towards mobile becoming more and more apparent. The constant flow of live information as well as the vital factor of accessibility means that mobile is the go-to platform for businesses, professionals and brands that are looking to stay with the market and grow.
More than half the world’s total sales came from online sales in 2016, and a majority of these were through mobile. BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s research service, has compiled data that predicts that 45% of ecommerce will be M-Commerce by 2020, creating a $284 billion industry. This is hugely exciting news for businesses, and Chat Find has taken note!
With M-Commerce (buying & selling on mobile), comes a whole new range of options for business. While it is a business channel that is new to many, it is the fastest growing way for a business to make sales and achieve sustainable commercial activity.
Chat Find has been growing and changing over the last few years, looking to build the perfect platform for business owners to grow their reach and build their business. This constant dynamism means Chat Find is on the precipice of industry trends, which has culminated in the latest update which allows professionals and businesses to set up a perfect M-Commerce platform at no cost.
We have been hard at work to create the most accessible M-Commerce platform possible, focusing on functionality, security and simplicity as our core pillars. Chat Find allows any business or professional to easily link a PayPal account and enable buying and selling within the Chat Find app. Using PayPal means you can make the safest, most secure payments possible, and pay and get paid internationally.
Chat Find offers the opportunity to create a free M-Commerce store, which can be set up by absolutely anyone. Businesses will no longer need to spend money on web-designers, mobile specialists or E-Commerce developers. Simply, set up a Chat Find profile and connect your PayPal to start selling your goods and services. We have made the sign-up and management very simple to make sure that small-to-medium sized businesses can keep up with the speed of the mobile market. Chat Find is looking to empower businesses to make more sales at no extra added cost.
People are browsing Chat Find all the time, looking for certain goods and services, but sometimes also just browsing to see what comes up in their news feeds. Chat Find uses a unique tag technology to make everything in the app searchable. By assigning tags to your posts, you can make your store or business inventory searchable. This means you will be able to build a detailed catalogue that people can explore. Whether you are selling clothing, artisanal food, vehicles or anything else, Chat Find has been built for all business types and models, ready to launch a new era of M-Commerce activity.
With 2017, will come the establishment of mobile as the most important tool in business. Chat Find hopes to lead the way in allowing businesses of all types and sizes to join the mix and open up another commercial stream using the most accessible M-Commerce platform available on the market.
It seems another year has flown by and 2016 has been a very interesting year for our users across the world. This year has been a big year for global politics, emerging-economies and a massive year for the tech industry.
It is the tech industry and its progressive development that interests us most. This year has seen a seismic shift to taking functional technology to mobile including various types of payment platforms, life tools, wearables and services that encourage human connections to solve human problems. It is certainly an exciting time for everyone interested in tech. This being said, technology is just an applied extension of people and their needs, and it is the people that really matter.
With the holiday season upon us, many of our users will be taking some well-deserved time off to spend with family and friends, while others will be traveling the world looking for fresh experiences in countries new to them.
Luckily, whatever you are up to, Chat Find will be there to make things easier. Here are 5 ways to use Chat Find in the holiday season:
With 2016 drawing to a close, we just want to say thank you to all of our users and businesses who have contributed to the rapid growth of Chat Find this year. We will keep working to make sure that Chat Find can be the best platform available, and we are excited to see what 2017 holds. Happy festive season, and all the best going into the new year!
The world around us is a diverse and interesting place, full of opportunity to explore and prospects to chase. Chat Find is essentially a microcosm of the world with businesses and people offering hundreds of different products, services and bites of information. To make sense of all of this, and to allow users to find exactly what they are looking for, we have launched the revolutionary Smart Search.
Smart Search brings intelligent search functionality that allows you to find anything and everything, with all results being shown relevant to your location. For the first time in an app, you are able to search for a combination of multiple keywords, meaning you can get extremely specific results.
Tags, Tags, Tags!
This is complimented by Chat Find’s unique tag technology, which allows everything to be searchable. Imagine being able to easily find the closest food truck in your city that sells both cheese-burgers and coffee, and is running a deal on both? With Smart Search this is a reality, and will allow you to use your mobile to find the most relevant interest points around you.
Big for Business!
As a business, you can now make posts about everything in your store or about your business offering. Adding detailed tags to these posts means that people will always be able to find your posts no matter how old the posts are. Keep this in mind, as posts will disappear from the feed after a week but can always be found on a profile or through search. They will also never disappear from the “Around Me” tab.
By adding tags to all of your product or service posts, you can create a catalogue for your business. Building this catalogue means you will have a shopping platform that you set up for free which is accessible to thousands of mobile users. The more you post, the more you will be found by people searching for your services.
Smart Search will bring an unprecedented level of relevancy to your search. Finding particular products, services, businesses and professionals has never been more effective. Get exploring on Chat Find to locate exactly what you are looking for!
Young people get through every day with the help of apps and technology. From weather to events to finding a Friday night date, Millennials use their phones to access all facets of life. This is not a new trend, but it is a growing trend and one that seems like it will carry for some time yet. We have noticed our app has started to attract a host of Millennials who are using the app for a number of reasons.
The greatest reason for use on our app has been Deals. With young people having less expendable income in the modern era, every buck matters and they have become expert Deal hunters. Young people love food and are unashamedly always searching for a bargain. A quick lunch or two-for-one coffee is never a bad thing. This is why we are working hard to get popular restaurants and entertainment places onto the app. The more relevant Deals we can offer, the happier our users will be. Deals are growing quickly which is one of the reasons young people are flocking to the app.
Another reason why young people are loving Chat Find, is because of the geo-location functionality. Young people want to embrace their community and know what’s happening around them. Whether that is becoming friendly with the local smoothie bar owner or knowing about local music gigs, Millennials like to connect with people and things around them. Chat Find allows people to keep their finger on the pulse and get to know what is happening in their neighborhoods. Opening the app opens a community.
Millennials are great content creators and are always keen to share their lives. We have seen many young creative people post their designs and work, as they know that people in their city will see it. Here at Chat Find, we are very happy to see this trend growing with our app! We are very happy to see young people embracing Chat Find in such a variety of ways.