Is South Africa ‘Ready to Shop’ off magazine pages?


Julia Raphaelly ()

Julia Raphaely


Online shopping in South Africa is not big. Yet, it is estimated to reach R45.3 billion (US$3.75 billion) by the end of this year. This figure represents a 19 per cent increase from 2017. Research released by PayPal suggests this trend could accelerate, projecting that online spend will reach R62 billion ($4.28 billion) by 2020. The research also indicates that 62 per cent of online shoppers have used mobile devices for their purchases, resulting in an estimated R14.9 billion ($1 billion) spend this year – around 33 per cent of the total spend.

Despite these ‘encouraging’ figures, Julia Raphaely, CEO of AMP, says their Ready to Shop campaign launched this weekend remains ‘a bold move’. The reality is that only two per cent of the total South African population have shopped online. ‘Not many people in South Africa know that you can shop off the pages of a magazine with a mobile phone. Neither do they know that a magazine can be a shop window.’

The Ready to Shop campaign uses Quick Response (QR) Codes as a recognisable emblem to identify the opportunity to shop off magazine pages. The October editions of all AMP titles are clad in QR code bags. Scanning these codes with a mobile device will take the consumer to a 30 second video that will explain how the ‘See it. Scan it. Shop it’ process works. 

‘Our digital content-consumers are already able to purchase items they like. Now our print readers will get to enjoy this instant gratification too,’ explains Raphaely. ‘This is a natural next step for magazine media: to serve our audiences better by giving them the opportunity to easily purchase the products our editors recommend.’

The group decided not to restrict the campaign to one popular brand, such as Cosmopolitan, but ensure it is part of a bigger idea, creating a sub-brand for all AMP publications. 



Linking content to commerce

‘We want to create an own-able, hyper-modern brand language and beautifully simple association between our magazine and the fact that you can shop any time, anywhere through QR codes relating to specific items on the page. We view this as another way of improving our service to our audience. It takes our magazines from a one-dimensional user experience and progresses it into a medium that links content to commerce. It gives readers the immediate opportunity to purchase the products that we recommend,’ says Raphaely.

Raphaely is particularly excited that it will change the conversation around magazines. ‘It will disrupt the newsstand, which quite frankly we need. We need to create excitement and dialogue. This is a fun new conversation around magazine media.’


Cosmo Ready to shop ()


Despite similar technology being used in other parts of the world, this is unique to South Africa as it is the first opportunity created by a media group for advertisers to collaborate and reach consumers through brand partnerships inside a curated and enhanced shopping experience across digital and print brand platforms. ‘There no longer needs to be a gap between falling in love with a product and getting to a store in time to buy it. We also want to be part of the growth curve towards increased online shopping in South Africa,’ says Raphaely.

The awareness campaign was created with visual communications agency North VCA. The concept centres around the QR code as the departure point from where the consumer journey begins. 


Ready to Shop ()


Future-proofing relevance

AMP foresees many updates and refinements to the existing platform as insights are gained from purchasing data and the understanding of what AMP readers want. ‘We anticipate that in the future a significant portion of the merchandise featured in all our print products will be shoppable. This is fundamental to future-proofing our relevance to consumers and the next S-curve for magazine media,’ explains Raphaely.

Elrike Lochner, group head of digital and marketing at AMP, says the campaign is one of the latest initiatives ‘to put consumers at the heart of everything we do. We’re offering readers an easy way to purchase carefully chosen content, utilising existing functionality that they already engage with. We have created a content-to-commerce solution that delivers an instantly shop-able, highly curated expert edit of merchandise for our consumer.

‘By enabling our readers to shop the items they find inspiring, directly from our pages via their mobile phones, we are completing the “content-to-commerce loop”, which will in turn make our brands more relevant and gratifying for our consumers,’ says Lochner.

For context, 98 per cent of South African adults have cell phones in their households; 90 per cent of South Africans older than 15 years of age personally own or use a cell phone. And locally developed apps like Snapscan, Zapper and SpazaApp use QR Code technology to offer South Africans a mobile payment solution for a variety of purchases, from fast food to parking, so the technology is familiar.


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AMP’s Elrike Lochner is one of the first confirmed speakers for DIS 2019, taking place on 25 to 26 March in Berlin.

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