In his latest AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights FNB’s newest mobile app, DStv Now for Compact and Extra customers, Child Friendly SA, Opera 3.0 Max, BBM News for SA and CarZar’s updated website.
FNB updated website
FNB’s latest banking app update allows users to view and pay for traffic fines and renew car licenses. For a fee, the licence is delivered by courier, and saves standing in lines and dealing with bureaucrats. It also features Augmented Reality and FNB TV. The augmented reality technology is designed to help customers find nearby eBucks retail partners, and the FNB TV service helps customers navigate banking easily with video clips that take them through the process step-by-step. The app also offer the ability to temporarily block, unblock, cancel and order any cheque, credit or debit card.
Platform: Android and Apple iOS
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device
DStv Now for Compact and Extra customers
DStv Now previousl allowed DStv customers of premium services to watch streaming Live TV and access the Catch Up channel on mobile devices. These features are now available on lower-cost DStv Compact and Extra accounts at no extra cost.
By downloading the mobile app, or logging on via a desktop browser, one gets to watch Live TV, see the full DStv TV Guide, enjoy DStv Catch Up content (via streaming or download) and manage accounts.
The Live TV and DStv Catch Up content on DStv Now will be based on the package to which the user is subscribed.
Platform: Android, Apple iOS and any device with a supporting Internet browser.
Expect to pay: A free download.
Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device or log on at www.now.dstv.com
Child Friendly SA
The Child Friendly SA app offers a easy solution to help parents-on-the-go to make more of their own day and their kids’ lives. More than 10 000 listings of child-friendly activities, services and shops are readily accessible from a smartphone. The app offers a wealth of ideas and valuable shortcuts to enriching family lives and to manage them more efficiently. Information is presented in more than 200 categories and sub-categories, covering the needs of kids from birth to the end of the high school years.
Platform: Android and Apple iOS
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.
Opera 3.0 Max
Opera has rolled out its new 3.0 version of the Max app. This is a major update with a new design, optimised for easier use of the data savings and data management tools inside Opera Max. The new version also introduces an improvement to its data savings technology by adding support for Facebook savings.
Opera Max 3.0 acts like a user’s smart assistant to manage Android apps. It starts off on a familiar feed that is customised to a user’s current data usage. It then shows “app by app” mobile and Wi-Fi data usage and also provides personalised advice on how best to reduce data usage. The tip cards on Opera Max’s new home feed will guide users through the most efficient ways to stretch their mobile data plan and help better manage their apps’ data consumption. Also, Opera Max will report on external security threat,s while providing data encryption when, for example, users are on public a Wi-Fi network.
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store
BBM News now in South Africa
BBM News is a source for news from around the globe: breaking, world, local, technology, sports, entertainment, business, and more. Accessible from the BBM Discover menu, this new service provides a personalised experience that “learns” which news stories are important to a user.
BBM News also includes the ability to share news with friends and family — making it easier for consumers to pass along interesting articles, and for content providers to take advantage of “dark social sharing,” which appears to be more effective than social advertising.
Platform: Mobile devices running the BBM messenger service
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Download BBM News through the Discover menu in BBM messenger.
Updated CarZar website
CarZar has a new website which will deliver a faster and easier experience when selling secondhand cars. Sellers enter their car’s details on the CarZar.co.za website, after which CarZar’s algorithm will instantly generate an estimate for the vehicle’s selling price. If the seller is happy with the estimated value, they can book a free inspection with one of CarZar’s trained car inspectors. Within 20 minutes, the inspector will make a final offer to the seller. CarZar then makes an instant payment and takes care of all the paperwork. In all, the process takes only 30 minutes.
Platform: Any device with an Internet browser
Expect to pay: A free service.
Online retail gets real
After decades of experience in selling online, retailers still seek out the secret of reaching the digital consumer, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
It’s been 23 years since the first pizza and the first bunch of flowers was sold online. One would think, after all this time, that retailers would know exactly what works, and exactly how the digital consumer thinks.
Yet, in shopping-mad South Africa, only 4% of adults regularly shop online. One could blame high data costs, low levels of tech-savviness, or lack of trust. However, that doesn’t explain why a population where more than a quarter of people have a debit or credit card and almost 40% of people use the Internet is staying away.
The new Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed, reveals that growth is in fact healthy, but is still coming off a low base. This year, the total sale of retail products online is expected to pass the R14-billion mark, making up 1.4% of total retail.
This figure represents 25% growth over 2017, and comes after the same rate of growth was seen in 2017. At this rate, it is clear that online retail is going mainstream, driven by aggressive marketing, and new shopping channels like mobile shopping.
But it is equally clear that not all retailers are getting it right. According to the study, the unwillingness of business to reinvest revenue in developing their online presence is one of the main barriers to long-term success. Only one in five companies surveyed invested more than 20% of their online turnover back into their online store. Over half invested less than 10% back.
On the surface, the industry looks healthy, as a surprisingly high 71% of online retailers surveyed say they are profitable. But this brings to mind the early days of Amazon.com, in 1996, when founder Jeff Bezos was asked when it would become profitable.
He declared that it would not be profitable for at least another five years. And if it did, he said, it would be in big trouble. He meant that it was so important for long-term sustainability that Amazon reinvest all its revenues in customer systems, that it could not afford to look for short-term profits.
According to the South African study, the single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities is customer service. A vast majority, 98% of respondents, regarded it as important. This positions customer service as the very heart of online retail. For Amazon, investment back into systems that would streamline customer service became the key to the world’s digital wallets.
In South Africa online still make up a small proportion of overall retail, but for the first time we see the promise of a broader range of businesses in terms of category, size, turnover and employee numbers. This is a sign that our local market is beginning to mature.
Clothing and apparel is the fastest growing sector, but is also the sector with the highest turnover of businesses. It illustrates the dangers of a low barrier to entry: the survival rate of online stores in this sector is probably directly opposite to the ease of setting up an online apparel store.
A fast-growing category that was fairly low on the agenda in the past, alcohol, tobacco and vaping, has benefited from the increased online supply of vapes, juices and accessories. It also suggests that smoking bans, and the change in the legal status of marijuana during the survey, may have boosted demand.
In the coming weeks, we can expect online retail to fall under the spotlight as never before. Black Friday, a shopping tradition imported “wholesale” from the United States, is expected to become the biggest online shopping day of the year in South Africa, as it is in the USA.
Initially, it was just a gimmick in South Africa, attempting to cash in on what was a purely American tradition of insane sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. It is followed by Cyber Monday, making the entire weekend one of major promotions and great bargains.
It has grown every year in South Africa since its first introduction about six years ago, and last year it broke into the mainstream, with numerous high profile retailers embracing it, and many consumers experiencing it for the first time.
It is now positioned as the prime bargain day of the year for consumers, and many wait in anticipation for it, as they do in the USA. Along with Cyber Monday, it provides an excuse for retailers to go all out in their marketing, and for consumers to storm the display shelves or web pages. South African shoppers, clearly, are easily enticed by bargains.
Word of mouth around Black Friday has also grown massively in the past two years, driven by both media and shoppers who have found ridiculous bargains. As news spreads that the most ridiculous of the bargains are to be had online, even those who were reticent of digital shopping will be tempted to convert.
The Online Retail in SA 2019 report has shown over the years that, as people become more experienced in using the Internet, their propensity to shop online increases. This is part of the World Wide Worx model known as the Digital Participation Curve. The key missing factor in the Curve is that most retailers do not know how to convert that propensity into actual online shopping behaviour. Black Friday will be one of the keys to conversion.
Carry on reading to find out about the online retailers of the year.
Reliable satellite Internet?
MzansiSat, a satellite-Internet business, aims to beam Internet connections to places in South Africa which don’t have access to cabled and mobile network infrastructure, writes BRYAN TURNER.
Stellenbosch-based MzansiSat promises to provide cheap wholesale Internet to Internet Service Providers for as little as R25 per Gigabyte. Providers who offer more expensive Internet services could benefit greatly from partnering with MzansiSat, says the company.
“Using MzansiSat, we hope that we can carry over cost-savings benefits to the consumer,” says Victor Stephanopoli, MzansiSat chief operating officer.
The company, which has been spun off from StellSat, has been looking to increase its investor portfolio while it waits for spectrum approval. The additional investment will allow MzansiSat’s satellite to operate in more regions across Africa.
The MzansiSat satellite is being built by Thales Alenia Space, a French company which is also acting as technical partner to MzansiSat. In addition to building the satellite, Thales Alenia Space will also be assisting MzansiSat in coordinating the launch. The company intends to launch the satellite into the 56°E orbital slot in a geostationary orbit, which enables communication almost anywhere in Africa. The launch is expected to happen in 2022.
The satellite will have 76 transponders, 48 of which will be Ku-band and 28 C-band. Ku-band is all about high-speed performance, while C-band deals with weather-resistance. The design intention is for customers of MzansiSat to choose between very cheap, reliable data and very fast, power-efficient data.
C-band is an older technology, which makes bandwidth cheaper and almost never affected by rain but requires bigger dishes and slower bandwidth compared to Ku-band connections. On the other hand, Ku-band is faster, experiences less microwave interference, and requires less power to run – but is less reliable with bad weather conditions.
MzansiSat’s potential military applications are significant, due to the nature of the military being mobile and possibly in remote areas without connectivity. Connectivity everywhere would be potentially be life-saving.
Consumers in remote areas will benefit, even though satellite is higher in latency than fibre and LTE connections. While this level of latency is high (a fifth of a second in theory), satellite connections are still adequate for browsing the Internet and watching online content.
The Internet of Things (IoT) may see the benefits of satellite Internet before consumers do. The applications of IoT in agriculture are vast, from hydration sensors to soil nutrient testers, and can be realised with an Internet connection which is available in a remote area.
Stephanopoli says that e-learning in remote areas can also benefit from MzansiSat’s presence, as many school resources are becoming readily available online.
“Through our network, the learning experience can be beamed into classrooms across the country to substitute or complement local resources within the South African schooling system.”