South African mobile users consume an average of 2.4 hours of media per day through their handheld devices, making mobile a crucial space for business to connect and transact with customers.
“The South African market 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 new m-commerce platform, 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 24km radius of their current location.
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, the 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.
Marketplace 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 this app, customers are alerted to deals and specials, but are then able to come into the store to see a product before purchasing. Alternatively, they can buy it instantly on the app, request delivery or collect from the store.”
As with other social media platforms, the app allows direct chat both in-app and to email but unlike other platforms, 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, which functions like a community noticeboard on your mobile.
“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,” concludes Wynne.