CEO of MultiChoice Group Calvo Mawela. He says consumers, who were confined to their homes during lockdowns, drove demand for digital self-service options such as managing subscriptions and making payments for the company. Photo / Courtesy

In a couple of years, analysts will look back at 2020 as the moment that a global pandemic drastically changed how we do things differently.

With order in, stay in calls ringing from governments and businesses across the globe, nowhere else has record and sudden surge in growth occur like in the digital and e-commerce segments, which have soared amid the Covid-19 crisis.

As stringent Covid curbs and lockdowns became the norm, businesses and consumers “went digital”, offering and buying goods and services online, pushing e-commerce’s share of global retail trade to about 17 per cent in 2020 from 14 per cent in the previous year.

These and other findings are in a new report, Covid-19 and E-Commerce: A Global Review, by UNCTAD and eTrade for all partners, reflecting on the global and regional industry changes seen in 2020.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) acting secretary-general Isabelle Durant said: “Businesses and consumers that were able to ‘go digital’ have helped mitigate the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.”

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“But they have also sped up a digital transition that will have lasting impacts on our societies and daily lives – for which not everyone is prepared,” she said, adding: “Developing countries should not only be consumers but also active players and thus producers of the digital economy.”

The report findings show the robust uptake of e-commerce across markets, with consumers in emerging regions making the greatest shift to virtual shops.

Take Africa’s entertainment giant, MultiChoice, for instance. In the company’s push to innovate and adapt amid the pandemic, MultiChoice launched DStv streaming services and enhanced DStv app capabilities, effectively giving users huge control over their customer experience.

Armed with the DStv app, millions of DStv subscribers across Africa now have a better leverage on their customer experience with services such as keeping tabs on their accounts and making payments on time as well as upgrading or downgrading their bouquets from the comfort of their homes.

This app capability has had renewed importance due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen an accelerated uptake of digital services in Africa, effectively pushing the content provider into a dynamic, reimagined future.

“We have built our systems to provide self service functions, enabling customers to solve their most burning questions without waiting in line or waiting on call to talk to a service agent,” a statement on MultiChoice website says.

Let’s face it, WhatsApp is now at the core of communications among people and between customers and businesses. As the pandemic limited travel, MultiChoice enhanced the integration of widely adopted third party platforms such as WhatsApp, giving millions of customers the ability to get in touch in ways they are comfortable and familiar with.

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“Consumers, who were understandably reluctant to engage in unnecessary face-to-face transactions or were confined to their homes during lockdowns, drove a substantial increase in demand for digital self-service options such as managing subscriptions and making payments. MultiChoice saw roughly a 20 per cent increase in demand for such transactions across the board as a result,” says Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice Group.

With families hurdled together at home for months on end, it can be a little hard to control what the kids watch. DStv app has the solution as its kids’ entertainment features offer parents a family friendly menu complete with PIN-code access suitable for the little eyes only.

Unlike in office set up where one can catch up with friends at the lounge, cafeteria or workstations, working from home can turn a little boring if not exhausting. With everyone at home fighting for the remote makes it worse but MultiChoice has come to the rescue by proving DStv streaming services.

You can now get up-to-the minute updates in news, sports, documentaries via livestreaming on-the-go access anywhere, anytime, on the DStv app depending on your subscription.

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