Telecommunications MVNOn Up (What? Ed.)
Financial services are old hat now among South Africa’s retailers. Pharmacy? Yawn. Ticket sales? Sure, why not. So the next frontier of value-added services, it seems, is mobile communications, in the form of the impenetrably-acronymed MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. Last October, you will recall, Pick n Pay announced that it was planning to launch Pick n Pay Mobile, and that Boxer would launch Boxercom, using MTN’s mobile network infrastructure. So virtual, then, in the sense that it seems you’re getting your mobile data and voice services through a retailer. Shoprite have announced that it will be launching its own MVNO, K’nect Mobile, next month, hitching a ride on Cell C’s network (and, in turn, MTN’s in a roaming agreement). “K’nect Mobile’s key differentiator is simplicity, with flat call and data rates, and no complicated tiers. Airtime, data bundles and rewards only expire after 60 days, rather than the more common 30-day expiry,” Shoprite said in a statement. While of course it’s nice to offer your customers more services from which you may extract a profit, it’s also nice to use the six petabytes of data you have on them to slice and dice the market and target your offerings on an increasingly granular level.
Comment: It’s not exaggerating to say that retailers will soon know their shoppers better than they – the shoppers – know themselves. And that for the retailers this will soon be part of the necessary cost of doing business.