This week on  @SAFM with @AshrafGarda I will be chatting about South Africa’s leading shopping/e-commerce apps that are currently available on the app market.

Shopping/retail apps are growing in popularity globally and also locally. However, the presence of a mobile app doesn’t always guarantee sales. Many apps fail to effectively engage customers because they don’t provide value to the consumer. It is also important to realise that not everyone will use an app (especially the once off customer), so it is important to still have an effective responsive mobile friendly website. Successful shopping apps offer the following:

  • value and engagement to the consumer that you can’t get on another channel
  • seamless purchasing experience (if e-commerce enabled)
  • exclusive in app offers/benefits and incentives for app users
  • capture attention with relevant and personalised messages (push notifications or in-app messages)
  • using the phone’s native features (such as the camera or location settings) to enhance the shopping experience
  • continuous performance and feature updates based on ongoing user experience research from your target audience


The PriceCheck Tech & E-Commerce Awards held last month, was aimed at awarding outstanding South African businesses, organisations and individuals in the e-commerce and technology industries. As a judge at the awards for the second year, I had the honour of being part of an expert judging panel that got to assess the outstanding entrants which were voted by the public.

The following were the top 5 most popular shopping apps that were voted by the SA public:


1.Clicks – Available for iOS and Android. 

Clicks was a late comer to the mobile apps space but they certainly entered the space with ease of use and functionality in mind. While you cannot shop directly within the app (the shopping functionality branches out to a mobile optimised site within the app), the most useful features which appeal to the SA consumer base as a whole includes the following:

  • Access to your club card on your app which can be scanned so there is one less plastic card to carry around.
  • Easy access to your Clubcard points balance including partner points accumulated from Sorbet, Shell and the Body Shop.
  • Submission of medical scripts where you simply snap and send of photo of your script and you receive a SMS when your order is ready for collection. You also have access to your script history, including children under 16 and can check how many repeats are remaining.

The app is designed with a very modern look and feel and most importantly gives the user access to key information with the minimal number of steps.


2.Spree –  Available for iOS and Android. 

The spree app is definitely the go-to app for your niche target market interested in fashion and beauty. There is also a tablet optimised version. The app gives you exclusive deals that are different to the website and you have access to all website functionality including order history and tracking. A recent update to the app allows for visual search where you have the option to search for an item by an image either by taking an image with your phone camera or selecting an image from your camera roll. The app then uses AI to match up the colour, pattern, texture and silhouette of the image to their catalogue and returns the closest match. This image search feature was rolled out by Amazon a few years ago and also this year by UK based online retailer ASOS who have seem amazing results (58% conversation rate), so hopefully Spree will be seeing great results too.

3. Woolworths – . Available for iOS and Android. 

Key features of the Woolworths app includes:

  • access their account information
  • downloading WRewards vouchers
  • search nearby stores
  • access fashion trends
  • access to recipes
  • scanning a product in-store to get information on ingredients.
  • application for additional credit
  • exclusive offers and promotions


4.Takealot – Available for iOS and Android.  

Key features of the Takealot app includes:

  • easy access to daily deals
  • exclusive benefits and competitions
  • order tracking and history
  • Price-check items you see in stores using the bar code scanner to find the best deal
  • Send and share links to products via email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

The user interface is a bit dated as it hasn’t changed over the last 4 years, however it is a robust and functional app that is favoured by the SA consumer.

5.Bidorbuy –  Available for iOS and Android

Bidorbuy (SA’s largest and most trusted eCommerce platform) was the first to launch SA’s first fully eCommerce app in 2011 and have since launched across all platforms. They are also SA’s first and only SA developed market place app.

Other Feature firsts:
  • First e-commerce app in South Africa to implement 3d secure / verified by Visa in 2013
  • First e-commerce app in South Africa to implement 1Password & Dashlane integration
  • First e-commerce app in SA to implement Apple TouchID login
  • First e-commerce app in SA to implement Apple 3D Touch
  • First e-commerce app in SA to accept Bitcoin payments