With E-commerce starting to gain strong momentum in South Africa, the new PriceCheck Barcode Scanner will most likely become your new best friend. We chatted to Charl Mocke and his team at PriceCheck, in order to better understand the great uses for their mobile apps, as well as gain some useful insight into price comparison in emerging markets versus the more developed world.
Hi Charl. What is your position at PriceCheck and what does it entail?
I am Product Owner of our mobile solutions. This includes envisioning, planning, development and the release of our current and future mobisites and mobile applications, as well as managing other cross-functional involvements that involve mobile.
Can you explain the barcode scanner and how it works?
Apart from their names, nearly all products on sale have some sort of unique identification by means of a number. In most cases barcodes are used to represent this number in a manner which can be scanned optically, quickly and easily, for example at cash point check-outs. An application running on a cellphone that can scan barcodes decodes the number after taking a photo of the barcode. This number can be used to look up the product name and details, provided a database of product barcodes can be accessed and used. The PriceCheck Barcode Scanner accesses PriceCheck’s product database, which contains the barcode numbers for more than 10 million products, and shows the product details matching those of the scanned product barcode. Comparative prices are then offered to the user in a listed display in the application, based on offers from over 300 South African online retail stores.
Can the barcode scanner be used by any smartphone?
Currently Android smartphones that are running Android v2.2 upwards, and iPhones that are version 3 and upwards, are supported. Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry OS7 devices will be added to the list within the next two months.
What is the mobile reach for PriceCheck?
Our mobisite, m.pricecheck.co.za, receives in excess of 100,000 Unique Visitors per month. Most of these visitors use BlackBerry smartphones which demonstrates the huge share we have in this very dominant user base in South Africa. The PriceCheck Barcode Scanner has been installed on nearly 10,000 Android smartphones and iPhones since it was launched in December 2011.
Our mobile reach is to be expanded with a brand new HTML5-based mobisite to be launched within 2 months, with corresponding app versions available on app stores for all popular brands of smartphones. New features will include an app-like look and feel, Location-Based Services, barcode scanning with increased barcode support, ability to share favourite products with friends using popular Social Media Networks, and ability to store favourite products and history of products viewed.
How do you see the future of price comparison in South Africa panning out?
I see the future to be bright, bold and growing exponentially as more and more merchants go online with their products.
The more our market matures, the more shops will be able to provide data to the various comparison engines and therefore more people will be able to buy online. Location-Based Services will also become more relevant and used more frequently as brick-and-mortar merchants also jump on the bandwagon.
How does online price comparison differ in SA in relation to the more developed world?
There is much more online retail in developed markets, whereas South African e-commerce is still in its infancy.
Stock levels and location based results are available overseas due to the fact that there are many more stores registered with internet-based price comparison services. The maturity of the markets has also ensured that the technology, meaning e-commerce shopping carts, is more advanced and more widely used than in South Africa. Thus online shops are able to feed higher volumes of products to price comparison engines.
In relation to overseas markets, mobile e-commerce has more potential here in comparison to more developed markets since South Africa has a higher mobile penetration than ADSL users, with a phenomenal growth rate. Consumer access to mobile internet in South Africa is tenfold to that of fixed-line internet access and by being at the forefront of mobile price comparison PriceCheck is and will remain the first stop for any online and mobile shopping or e-commerce.
Thanks for chatting with us, Charl. We look forward to seeing the new developments coming from PriceCheck!