Massmart looks to Walmart to fulfil 'super app' ambition

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 11 Oct 2021

Massmart has introduced new mobile apps for its subsidiaries Makro and Builders Warehouse, as part of a mobile-first strategy inspired by majority shareholder, global retail giant Walmart.

The local retailer earlier this year announced plans to ramp up its e-commerce, as a business-to-business and business-to-consumer strategy.

The new mini apps can be accessed via Vodacom’s VodaPay Super App, which provides an ecosystem of third-party services that allow consumers to do everything from paying bills, to sending money and ordering takeaways, or making grocery purchases.

During a webinar on Friday, Sylvester John, Massmart Group VP for e-commerce, who has been seconded from Walmart US to lead Massmart’s e-commerce transformation, noted the group gained much insight from Walmart, which has over the years increasingly strengthened its omni-channel business to offer customers seamless and connected experiences.

Massmart’s digital strategy, he noted, is informed by a 360-degree holistic framework, pioneered by Walmart, with strategic priorities focused on significantly enhancing the performance of its websites, evolving towards mobile-first solutions, expanding into on-demand and same-day deliveries, and strengthening and revamping its fulfilment services.

Walmart acquired a majority stake in Massmart in 2011.

“This is an important step in our e-commerce strategy, underpinned by a mobile-first approach, which in this case will provide access to 43 million customers, 21 million mobile devices and 12.9 million 4G devices, with the additional benefit of data-free access for all Vodacom users.

“The VodaPay-based initiative serves as our launch pad into mobile applications. Pleasingly, we have been able to deliver these mini apps in record time, with the assistance of e-commerce software development experts from Walmart Global Tech in India,” noted John.

While Walmart’s shopping app is a one-stop shop for everything a customer may need, the global retail giant’s fintech division is in the process of developing a super app which will offer umbrella services, from finance, to healthcare, fresh groceries and electrical appliances.

Sylvester John, Massmart Group VP for e-commerce.
Sylvester John, Massmart Group VP for e-commerce.

In the past, Makro and Builders Warehouse customers relied on the retailers’ websites to make their purchases. This development is one piece of a multi-faceted strategic digital transformation strategy that is under way – with further developments to come in future, John added.

The VodaPay Super App offers consumers a single point of entry and payment platform, with no additional download required. Vodacom partnered with global online payment platform Alipay to develop the VodaPay Super App.

A super app, also described as a digital mall, is a mobile application that provides umbrella services – a trend which has gained momentum in the past year, accelerated by more people taking to online channels as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Massmart says its mini apps cannot be accessed via app stores, but only through the VodaPay Super App. They offer functionalities like ‘instant buy’ and ‘add to cart directly’, which the retailer says involves an improved customer transaction process that has been reduced from five steps to two, with prompts encouraging customers to top up their online basket to qualify for discounts, bundle ‘more 4 less’ deals and free delivery.

“The VodaPay Super App is characterised by its scalability. Our objective is to offer this capability to numerous businesses, across multiple industries, irrespective of size,” said Mariam Cassim, chief officer of Vodacom Financial Services.

“We are delighted that a respected South African brand such as Massmart and its companies can take advantage of the VodaPay Super App through their own VodaPay Mini Programmes.”