Shoprite says it will launch its own virtual mobile network

The Shoprite Group – Africa’s largest food retailer – plans to launch its own mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

Pieter Engelbrecht, the chief executive officer of Shoprite Holdings said during a results presentation on Tuesday (16 March) that the group would aim to leverage the ‘petabytes of customer data’.

Shoprite told BusinessTech that it will provide further details on the launch early next week.

The retail group launched K’nect in 2019, a stand-alone store format which sells mobile products and related services and offers entry-level financial services and products to consumers across all income sectors.

The first store was opened in Delft Mall, Cape Town, on 27 May 2019, representing the group’s entry into the tech-sphere, while 10 additional stores followed. However, the group closed four stores over 2020. Four new stores are planned before June 2021.

K’nect stores aim to meet customers’ needs when it comes to airtime bundles, a data top-up or even a brand-new electronic device such as a cellphone, remote or flash drive.

Taking on Pick n Pay

Shoprite’s plans around mobile come after competitor Pick n Pay launched its PnP Mobile MVNO, operating on MTN’s network, in November 2020.

PnP Mobile is the first MVNO to use MTN’s newly-launched MVNO service, and it will give customers access to prepaid SIM-based services such as airtime, data, and SMS.

PnP Mobile allows Smart Shopper customers to earn tiered rewards that offer users between 250MB and 2.5GB depending on their tier.

The retailer provided an example where if a customer tops up their PnP Mobile SIM card with R100, and spends R1,000 on groceries, they will earn an additional 500MB in data rewards.

These data rewards are automatically loaded onto the user’s SIM card once after each shop, and do not replace traditional Smart Shopper points.

South Africa has several other significant MVNOs, the majority of which run on Cell C’s network. These include FNB Connect, Standard Bank Mobile, Mr P Mobile, and me&you Mobile.


Read: Checkers fires warning at Pick n Pay and Woolworths over upper-income shoppers

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Shoprite says it will launch its own virtual mobile network