Clickatell’s Connect Interact and Transact (CIT) Joburg Event Reveals How Chat Commerce is Kicking Off a Convenience Revolution – African Business

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Clickatell (, a CPaaS innovator and Chat Commerce leader, discussed with attendees at its Connect Interact and Transact (CIT) annual Joburg event on Tuesday the new era of Chat Commerce and how businesses can lay the groundwork for a completely new way of serving customers. Big name local brands gave real-world insight on how they have transformed their chat channels to deliver personalized customer experiences at scale, and generated new revenue streams.  

Titled “Turning Conversations into Commerce”, the event was attended by an impressive list of business and technology leaders from across the continent and was moderated by Werner Lindemann, ​​Clickatell’s Senior Vice President Enterprise Sales: Growth Markets.

Bronwyn Williams, futurist and economist, was our guest speaker. She shared fascinating insights into the future technology and the many exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

Williams noted that chat is becoming more intuitive thanks to the rapid evolution of AI and other technologies. However, she noted that while the aim of the new technology was to make chatbots almost indistinguishable from humans, “any effective anticipatory communications with customers must happen in real-time and, most importantly, where they are and in a way that feels natural and not disruptive.” She summed up her presentation urging business leaders to carefully consider how they automate to optimise cost savings, while still maintaining a sustainable, human connection with their customers.

Building on these insights, Pieter de Villiers, Co-Founder and CEO at Clickatell, took a closer look at what happens when brands engage with their customers where they are, building on ‘the convenience revolution’, first put forward by Shep Hyken.  

De Villiers opened the session by challenging the audience members to question the true value and value of time, as well as how their customers weighed convenience against it. 

“As anyone in retail will tell you, location, location, location is everything. And, with chat now having almost twice the number of active users than the internet, there can be no better place than the address book of your customers– the most valuable location of all,” de Villiers said.

De Villiers pointed out that the features from mega platforms, Meta and WhatsApp, would take Chat Commerce to a whole new level, saying that soon there would be nothing that could be done on the internet that couldn’t be done on chat.

“Convenience is not difficult to achieve. If you meet your customers where they are, not only can you build a closer, more authentic engagement with them, but you’re giving them back the one thing that we all crave, time,” he shared.

The panel debate was followed by a lively panel discussion that allowed Clickatell partners and clients to share their experiences and lessons with the audience.

Daniela Birnbaum is the Channel Partner Manager at WhatsApp EMEA. She praised local brands that she believes are leading the way in building a strong WhatsApp channel. She also pointed out that South Africa is far ahead of other EMEA regions in terms of chat adoption. 

Gareth Bray, BD & Partnerships Lead EMEA – Business Messaging Group for Meta, went on to share that the rapid advancement in features had catapulted WhatsApp from a simple text channel to a customer engagement platform where brands can very effectively create personal relationships with their customers.

FlySafair’s ability to personalize communication is what has enabled them to take their digital offering to the next level.

“It doesn’t matter where I made my booking, when I type ‘Hi’ in the WhatsApp channel it will immediately be able to access my booking. We have been particularly excited about how fast we can roll out new features on the channel and being able to reduce the call centre engagement has massively benefited the customers and our business,” explained Eswee Vorster, Executive Manager and CIO at FlySafair.

Lynne Blignaut (Head of Loyalty and Customers Rewards at Dis-Chem), spoke out about how chat has helped local retail brands adopt chat. She shared that customers can now order chronic prescription medication via WhatsApp.

“Typically we only see 50% of people actually adhere to their chronic medication for a maximum of six months of the year. It is a huge leap forward to be able to reach more people, ensure that they follow their chronic medication, and keep them healthy by expanding the options they have to order their medication online without waiting in a line. Of course, adding a payment option to this will make a big impact on the overall customer journey, and we are really looking forward to seeing this happen,” she shared. 

De Villiers summed up the conversation saying: “WhatsApp is pervasive and safe. We see adding embedded payments as the logical next step and we have no doubt that this will be the one transformative thing that will keep customers engaged and a bold step into the convenience revolution.”

The night concluded with the presentation three Chat Commerce awards. FlySafair was the first to receive the award. They are now using WhatsApp to manage all their day-today operations messages. The second award went to aYo, which uses WhatsApp to sign up its more than 12,000,000 microinsurance clients. The Chat Commerce Innovator of the year was awarded to Imperial Logistics for its use of chat platforms within a B2B environment.    

Wrapping up Lindemann said: “The chat industry is currently valued at around eighty billion dollars and it’s no surprise that brands want to use this as a catalyst for their digital transformation. The continued advances made by WhatsApp provide the ideal platform for our clients to turn their imagination into reality and we expect many more ground-breaking use cases to emerge over the next 12 months.”

Chat Commerce can connect your business to your customers. For more information, visit

Distributed by APO Group for Clickatell

Contact Media:
Nadia Louw
[email protected]

Andrea Mahoney
[email protected]

Clickatell is the global leader in Chat Commerce, enabling businesses to connect, interact and transact with consumers anywhere, anytime in chat. The Chat Commerce Platform, which is low-code, feature-rich and features-rich, sits at a crossroads of communications (CPaaS/CCaaS), commerce (digital transactions) and communications (CPaaS/CCaaS). Clickatell serves more than 10,000 customers, including Fortune 50 brands. Clickatell is headquartered Silicon Valley, CA and has offices throughout Canada, South Africa, and Nigeria. Find out more at   

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