On South Africa's online marketplace, bidorbuy.co.za, the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 saw an increasing number of people access the site using mobile devices, tablets or cellphones. During the past 30 days, more than 10% of visits were via a mobile device. In the same period last year, mobile devices accounted for less than 3% of visits.
In the mid-December 2011 to mid-January 2012 period, mobile visitors accessed bidorbuy with about 400 different devices. The single most popular one was the Apple iPad, with about 60 000 visits. Other frequently used mobile device brands included the iPhone, BlackBerry, Samsung and Nokia.
“We are aware that only some of the Internet-enabled cellphones in use in South Africa are smartphones, and that a very small percentage of South Africans possess an iPhone or an iPad. We endeavour to cater for all of them. That is why bidorbuy offers a basic mobisite for lower-end cellphones, a rich mobisite for smartphones, and an iPhone and iPad application, which was released in December 2011, and has been trending well in the iTunes store. The bidorbuy iPhone App is part of our larger mobile strategy, which will encompass apps for all the other major players. We also have an SMS service that notifies subscribers when they have been outbid on an online auction and enables them to increase their bids via SMS. The service won an international award last year,” says bidorbuy CEO Jaco Jonker.
The aim of the bidorbuy mobile offering is to provide a full mobile shopping experience for existing users and to attract new users, who usually access the Internet via mobile devices and tablets. “It's all about offering a smooth mobile shopping experience that is as good as on the desktop, with the added convenience of being able to browse and shop anywhere, at anytime, without being tied to a computer,” says Jonker.
According to him, the early insights show some interesting differences regarding “mobile behaviour”. The visitors who come to bidorbuy via a mobile device are more likely to be new to the site; they view fewer pages, they spend a little less time browsing, and they seem to prefer doing it on Sundays, while the peak days for computer users are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The bidorbuy CEO emphasises that mobile is now a way of life for individuals and businesses: “It took about 10 years for e-commerce to become mainstream, while m-commerce is expected to accomplish this in about three years. We at bidorbuy are ready for this,” he says, and adds: “However, for bidorbuy and the South African online economy in general to be able to take full advantage of m-commerce, we need faster, more reliable and more affordable mobile broadband.”