Attracting the mobile-first community to SA’s retail stores

by Kegan Peffer. To remain competitive, retailers need to think past their own brand and consider the overall experience of the on-the-go consumer.

by Kegan Peffer. For shopping centres to attract and retain the post-lockdown consumer, they need to cater to the needs of the new mobile phone shopper too. The introduction of a myriad of mcommerce platforms and functionalities available on the mobile phone has made it even more ubiquitous than before. Shopping centres and retail venues that are still the dominant channel for many consumers, will need to start catering for the shopper that is harnessing the power of mobile shopping, mobile banking and payments, as well as mobile working.

While the role of ecommerce has certainly increased considerably during the pandemic, in-store retail shopping is still the dominant channel for many consumers. This trend has also been noted by Forbes Business Council whose research shows that the in-store retail channel is still an integral part of the customer journey. This also rings true in PWC’s March 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, where it says that “in-store shopping remains consumers’ channel of choice for daily or weekly shopping”.

But the instore experience that shoppers are expecting is also changing. A retailer’s focus should always be the store’s core asset – using merchandising to provide a sensory experience for the shopper. But, with health and safety concerns, space is limited. So, retailers are now starting to augment the experience using platforms available on mobile phones.

Changing consumer behaviour

A notable change in consumer behaviour is shoppers viewing products in store, especially larger ticket and luxury items, then using their mobile phones to make the purchase for delivery, especially if the store they are in does not have stock of the item they are looking for. This is confirmed by a recent report from Salesforce, which reported that six in 10 digital orders are influenced by in-store experience.

In addition, shopping centres are seeing an increase in the mobile workforce as well as students working in coffee shops, food courts and restaurants. According to a 2021 report by Ericsson, implementation of remote working in South Africa has increased by 66%; while a GlobalWebIndex report highlights that since the advent of COVID-19, Smartphone use is about 45% above normal levels. Interestingly, one study in the US found that millennials are spending more time on their mobile devices per day (3.7 hours), than Gen Z’s (3 hours), which could be indicative of more young professionals using their mobile devices to complete work tasks while on-the-go. This all feeds into how our ‘always-on’ culture can and is shaping consumers expectations, and ultimately their experience.

Adding to the shopper’s holistic experience

What our research is telling us specifically about mobile phone usage is not only that it’s on the increase, but how much power is in demand to keep up. The heavy use of mobile phones to make purchases, remain active on social media channels as well as working or studying, is depleting mobile phone batteries – leaving shoppers with no way of continuing with their on-the-go lifestyle.

Solutions such as mobile charging stations for smartphones and free WiFi, if created to enhance a consumers experience in the shopping centre or store, will attract the ever increasing mobile first community to the traditional bricks and mortar store.

To remain competitive, retailers need to think past their own brand and consider the overall experience of the on-the-go consumer. Most importantly, they need to understand that the desire of consumers to ‘stay connected’ or be ‘always-on’, will inform where they choose to spend their time and money. Throw loadshedding into the mix, and those retailers that can keep consumers powered up are already ahead of the curve.


Main image credit:



Kegan Peffer is the CEO of Adoozy Power, Africa’s first contactless mobile power bank ‘rent-as-you’ go solution. Adoozy power towers are located in  shopping malls, restaurants, at social events and festivals, as well as at selected Game stores across the country.


– Receive the Retailing Africa newsletter every Wednesday • Subscribe here.