Shoprite To Join Pick n Pay In Launching Its Own MVNO. Speaking at the group’s results for the 26 weeks to end-December, CEO Pieter Engelbrecht on Tuesday said Africa’s largest retailer plans to operate its own mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO. He said this move is part of its efforts to better use the six petabytes of data it has on its customers. “Very soon we will launch our own virtual network to enhance our customer data even further.”
Shoprite’s move into mobile networks follows Pick n Pay announcing in October that it was planning to launch Pick n Pay Mobile and that its Boxer chain would launch Boxercom. Though Shoprite will be emulating other retailers when it comes to being a MVNO, Engelbrecht’s vision is broader. He sees his group using it in combination with the information it gets from its 17 million rewards members, the seven billion products sold a year and its 7.5 million monthly digital visitors.
The announcement comes after Shoprite competitor Pick n Pay launched its PnP Mobile MVNO operating on MTN’s network in November 2020. According to Juicetel, 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.
A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. An MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, and then sets retail prices independently. An MVNO may use its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel, or it could employ the services of a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE).