Appy days: Durban designed app lets you buy mobile funeral cover at your local spaza shop
29 November 2017 | Web Article Number: ME20177934
Funeral inflation in South Africa has grown at a massive 12% – significantly ahead of standard consumer inflation. Costing a funeral is a pricey affair because it typically can include a casket, tombstone, flowers, catering, undertaker fees and more. Most of these items require fuel and labour – needless to say the costs of mourning a loved one are skyrocketing. Getting funeral cover is a no-brainer, but unfortunately the segment of the market that needs this the most often struggles to access and purchase it.
But that’s about to change. From this month onwards, an initiative will be rolled out in KwaZulu-Natal whereby customers can purchase funeral cover on a month-to-month basis from a mobile vendor at selected local spaza shops.
According to a Nielsen study, while SA has 2 500 modern trade outlets there are estimated to be 140 000 traditional trade outlets. Considering the growth of spaza shops, customers may very well enjoy access to funeral cover where they work, live and shop.
African Unity Life (AUL), a long-term insurance provider, has partnered with Spazapp - the developers of an app that enables spaza shop owners to order and track discounted brands and sell other services like airtime as well. Together, AUL and Spazapp plan to provide mobile sales of funeral cover to customers. The funeral cover can be topped up monthly or bought in advance. In this way, a market that has traditionally struggled to access funeral cover can now purchase it easily and efficiently.
From this month, the first phase of the project will roll out in Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal. For residents, buying funeral cover will be as easy as a trip to their local spaza, salon, car wash or kota store – just like they would buy electricity credits or lotto tickets from a mobile vendor.
One hundred existing Spazapp vendors will participate in this first phase, during which they will earn an income from commission on the products that they sell. Twenty supportive service agents, known as “Sparks” have received in-app product and service training on how to sell funeral insurance and manage the sales process.
“We believe that this model of mobile sales of funeral insurance is a first, and we are proud to have initiated a new channel of delivering a product that gives our customers the peace of mind that their loved ones will have financial support at the most difficult time,” said Sonja Visser, the CEO of AUL. “We are also delighted to be offering a new avenue of income to the Sparks agents, who will earn a commission on the insurance products they sell.”
To buy, customers register once with the mobile vendor and can then conduct their top-up transactions securely at their local spaza store, Spark vendor or ATM once their registration is complete. They will receive SMS updates to inform them that their cover is active, that they are nearing the end of their cover period, or that their cover has expired. They will not need to register again to purchase further cover.
“Phase one of the project will allow us to test the market and iron out any kinks in the sales and purchasing process. We are looking forward to seeing the interest and adoption levels of our product, using this innovative approach to sales,” said Visser.
For Spazapp, a company that has been making waves since its launch in January this year, the partnership with AUL is a great addition to the product offering and functionality of the app.
“Ever evolving to meet the needs of the informal market we did a lot of research upfront, but as the market develops and grows, more and more opportunities present themselves to make our stores, our Sparks agents and their customers’ lives better,” said Tim Strang, CEO of Spazapp.
“Through our partnership with AUL, we are now able to offer funeral cover, which is an insurance product that is extremely valuable to our customers, but that they struggle to find or pay for near their homes or work. We are very excited about this huge step forward in our product offering and anticipate that the service will go from strength to strength,” Strang added.