Yes, current level 1 lockdown restrictions allow South Africans to go to shops and do a little retail therapy, but venturing into malls at the moment still carries quite a bit of risk. It is why innovative ecommerce solutions have taken off over the past year, and why Nedbank is aiming to make digital malls more of a fixture in SA, starting with Sandton City.
Powered via the Nedbank Money app, the financial institution’s digital marketplace called Avo now allows customers to shop a range of different Sandton City stores remotely from their smartphone, purchase whatever items they want and then arrange for delivery or collection of said items.
“We aspire to enable our app users to do life differently. The concept of a digital mall is broad and includes everything from gaming, clothing and groceries to tech, gadgets and home décor. Our insights show that people across Africa are willing to travel to shop, with Sandton City being a preferred destination,” explains Vishal Maharaj, founding member of Avo, regarding the announcement.
“We have onboarded more than 30 stores to date, and more are on the way, ensuring they are live on the platform for customers to start shopping. Avo is also open to any individual or business that would like to use the platform whether or not they are Nedbank clients,” he adds.
Nedbank says this solution is a first of its kind on the African continent, and while the ability to shop online from local stores exists, bringing an entire shopping mall‘s catalogue onto an app is wholly new. It also has the added benefit of being a handy solution given the limits that the pandemic currently places on many retailers and shoppers alike.
“Nedbank’s move to become a ‘digital-first’ financial services provider led to the successful launch of the Nedbank API_Marketplace, a first-in-Africa platform aligned to open banking standards. It creates opportunities to disrupt the traditional approach to banking and financial services while laying the groundwork for a truly client-centred, market-orientated and innovation-driven future in the digital world,” adds a press release sent to Hypertext.
“Over the last few months, we have seen huge growth on our digital platform, and we are fast approaching the milestone of 200 000 downloads,” adds Maharaj.
While this solution could prove quite successful among Nedbank users, it is important to note that you must be a customer of the financial institution to benefit. As such, it will be interesting to see how quickly Sandton City will be able to get other mobile payment platforms and banks onboard to make it a truly digital mall.