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Shoprite launches K’nect Mobile

The network is set to roll out to stores from mid-April 2021.
Image: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

Shoprite has launched its own prepaid mobile network operator called K’nect Mobile, which is set to be implemented next month.

This follows Pick n Pay’s launching of PnP Mobile via MTN’s network infrastructure last year, offering customers prepaid and SIM-based access to data and airtime.

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K’nect Mobile has partnered with digital enabler FREI One Digital and will use Cell C’s mobile infrastructure to offer airtime and data bundles at competitive rates, such as 50c per minute all day for K’nect to K’nect calls, and 99c per minute all day for calls to other networks.

Its PnP rival charges R1.49 per minute on voice calls across all networks, R0.20 per MB of data and R0.60 per SMS message.

“Customers can connect to the prepaid cellular network by accessing and activating (RICA) a K’nect Mobile SIM card at any till point within a Checkers, Checkers Hyper, Shoprite or Usave supermarket,” says Jean Olivier, Financial Services General Manager.

Customers can expect 10% free on recharge, but users of products within the Shoprite ecosystem such as Xtra Savings (an equivalent of Pick n Pay’s Smart Shopper) stand to gain much more. The retailer promises a 10% ‘Xtra’ reward each time a user recharges, and a 5% reward when recharging via the group’s Money Market Account.

Users with the K’nect SIM card will also benefit from accessing Shoprite and Checkers websites and apps without incurring any data charges.

Swiping the Xtra Savings card at checkout will gain a user free data and airtime, but it is not determined how much they will earn. Other rewards include early access to Computicket events and free streaming content.

Swiping a Smart Shopper card on the other hand, instantly earns users 5MB of data for every R10 spent in-store. So, if a customer tops up their SIM with R50 airtime and spends R500 on groceries, they earn 250MB in data rewards. However, to qualify, customers are required to link their Smart Shopper card and load their PnP Mobile SIM card with at-least R50 worth of airtime over a 30-day period.

The instant offers are determined by the customer’s spend and these may range from 250MB up to 2.5GB each month. The data, which is additional to earning loyalty points, is immediately loaded onto a customer’s card after each shop. Users don’t only earn this data by swiping at a PnP grocery store; Smart Shoppers can expect to boost their data-earning potential when swiping at Express, Clothing and Liquor stores.

While the Xtra Savings card may be used interchangeably at both Shoprite and Checkers branded stores, it is only applicable to the brand’s respective promotions and discounts.

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) offered by retailers are fast becoming a norm in South Africa. However, this should not come as a surprise, seeing that UK retailer Tesco now boasts over five million subscribers since it started operating an MVNO in 2003.

Olivier says that the group’s K’nect Mobile is “part of our ever-growing suite of fintech products” which are purposefully designed to better serve customers.

“We’ve spent a lot of time understanding how a mobile network can add value to our customers’ lives, and our solution is an easy-to-understand network that offers straightforward call and data rates as well as tangible rewards.”

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