Cellulant patners with Facebook to launch Augmented Reality (AR) powered try-on experiences on Messenger

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Pan-African Payments company, Cellulant, has built Africa’s first Augmented Reality (AR) powered try-on experiences in Facebook Messenger. As part of the roll-out programme, Kenyan brand Huddah Cosmetics, has been selected as the first social commerce merchant on Mula to launch the platform; leveraging on Facebook to provide a unique product discovery shopping experience for their customers.

Cellulant has recently extended product offerings on its Mula payment platform to include Mula Shops – a simple and convenient online shopping experience for the rising number of micro-merchants (or Hustle-preneurs) on social networking sites. Mula Shop integrates Augmented Reality into the Facebook Messenger where customers are able to discover and try products before they purchase. Brands that leverage social media as platforms for e-commerce can now give their customers a world-class one-stop-shop service from trial, to payment and delivery, all within Facebook and Instagram. This is a departure from the current disjointed social commerce experience.

The uniqueness of the digital experience using Augmented Reality is exciting. Trying out a product on social commerce before purchase has previously been impossible. Augmented Reality presents an opportunity for African brands and companies to build trust with consumers where “touch and feel” is often a pre-requisite before purchase.  For Huddah lipsticks, for example, the AR technology switches on the camera on your cellphone and engages the buyer to try different shades before making a choice and concluding the purchase through Mula seamlessly. Augmented Reality presents an opportunity to push brand lift, deliver world-class customer experience, brand interactions, improving conversion, and real-time purchase fulfillment.

According to Cellulant’s Chief Product Officer Faizal Mirza, “no matter how you look at the future of innovation in Africa- the future is in providing a seamless experience in a space that is currently fragmented. This partnership with Facebook allows us to do so for a segment that is often neglected when considering the economies of scale in Africa. This is the beginning of our journey to offering seamless, smart and connected digital payment experience to our customers across Africa. Fundamentally, we will be able to connect one of Africa’s growing base of micro-merchants’ gig economy a.k.a Hustle-preneurs to their ever mobile and digital customers”, says Faizal.

A GeoPoll survey published in February this year* found that a significant number of online shoppers utilize Facebook groups. At 32%, Facebook is the second leading online retailer in the main e-commerce regions. More and more, informal entrepreneurs are using this leading social media channel to sell through their groups or similar interest groups. With mobile phones having such huge penetration on the continent, e-commerce is an opportunity for online retailers to reach the youthful African consumer population, the survey reports.

Commenting on the patnership, Proud Dzambukira, the Facebook Product Partnership Lead, Middle East & Africa said  “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Cellulant and Huddah Cosmetics in a first for the continent, Augmented Reality (AR) in Messenger, a powerful and innovative tool to aid her customers discover, try and buy her range of cosmetics through Facebook and Instagram. With nearly 1 in 2 SMBs on Facebook building their business on Facebook, our platform can play a powerful role in enabling social commerce. We want to help drive innovation by supporting Africa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, and this is just one of the many ways.”

Kenya is the first country to launch this new online experience with Nigeria, Tanzania and Rwanda to follow.

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