Sandton City and Mall of Africa turn online as shoppers ditch brick and mortar stores

Business Insider SA
sandton city
Sandton City Mall on the Avo app by Nedbank.
  • Retailers and mall owners are increasingly turning to digital offerings, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • You can now shop at stores in Sandton City Mall through Nedbank’s new Avo super app.
  • The owners of Mall of Africa plan to launch a new app, SHôPING, to improve shopper experience.
  • The app will launch first at Mall of Africa and will the be rolled out in all of Attacq's malls.
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Retailers and mall owners are increasingly turning to digital offerings, as shoppers move away from traditional brick and mortar stores, as the global coronavirus pandemic changes the way consumers shop.

Sandton City Mall became the first big shopping centre to offer online shopping via Nedbank’s new Avo super app, and Attacq, the owners of Mall of Africa in Midrand, are planning to launch their new app - called SHôPING – later this year.

The Avo "super app" allows its users to shop from a range of stores at Sandton City Mall, including grocery, jewellery and high-end fashion outlets. It has a click and collect feature that allows shoppers to collect their products at a designated "avo locker" at the mall. Users can also opt to have their purchases delivered to their doorstep.

The app also allows users to pay for entertainment services such as Showmax and Spotify, and has a directory listing of services such as interior décor, electrical and pet and animal services.

"We aspire to enable our app users to do life differently," Vishal Maharaj, founding member of the Avo app said. "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," Maharaj said.

The Avo app has more than 30 stores based in Sandton City Mall including fashion, food and other category stores, he said. "We plan to onboard more than 200 in the coming months," Maharaj said.

Attacq says its app will be rolled out to all its malls in different phases and aims to improve consumers' shopping experience as well as the integration of its omnichannel.

"The accelerated adoption of online commerce during the enforced lockdown and need for on-demand services by shoppers are structural changes affecting the future of retail," the company said in its interim results to the end of December.

"In response, we are about to launch our digital application, SHôPING, at the Mall of Africa, which will facilitate integrated digital engagement with our shopper community to share news and invitations to events, send and redeem digital vouchers, and participation in an interconnected loyalty programme," the company said.

Super-apps  - basically platforms developed by a company offering various services under one umbrella - have been gaining traction globally. South Africa has also swiftly followed suit with Vodacom being one of the latest major companies in the country with plans to rollout one of their own.

The mobile operator has plans to list retailer Massmart’s stores on its super-app where customers can shop from a range of its brands, namely Makro, Builders Warehouse and Game.

Compiled by Ntando Thukwana

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