Mobilexpress has developed a logo which is placed on the advertising of its partner brands and enables a user to purchase a product simply by sending a text message. The start-up then manages both the payment and the delivery.
Mobilexpress aims to encourage impulse buying triggered by advertising, whatever the type of
phone the shopper uses, and without him/her having to divulge bank account details each time
a purchase is made. The company’s idea is to provide a go-between service based on SMS.
We met Mobilexpress during the Startup Turkey event held on 15-17 February in Antalya. The
company’s usual approach is to add a small insert into all the advertising media and materials
of their partner brands – e.g. newspapers, TV commercials, Internet banners and posters.
Each gives a short number, such as 3570, to type in, plus a code – for example ABC123. All
the customer has to do is to send an SMS to the number – no matter which telecoms operator
is running the network – indicating the code. S/he will then receive a request for confirmation,
giving details of the product, the price and the delivery date. Once the customer confirms the
purchase, delivery will go ahead. The code system can also be applied to radio advertising.
When the customer first subscribes to the service, s/he will have to give his/her banking details
– an account with almost any bank will do – and address.
Simplifying impulse buying
Mobilexpress then acts as a relay to the retailer, authorising the transactions and providing a
delivery address. Tunc Berkman, a partner at the company, explained to L'Atelier: "The service
is free of charge for the customer; we charge the companies." Commission is charged at a
rate of between 5% and 35% of the product price, depending on its scarcity. It’s interesting to
note that if a person who is not a Mobilexpress customer wishes to buy a product, s/he can still
send a text message. The phone number is forwarded to a call centre, which in turn contacts
the would-be customer, who can leave his/her details on a central system. The purchase will
then go through. The basic system has now been enhanced with a QR code option so that
customers with smartphones can also make these transactions using a convenient app. Tunc
Berkman says that the company’s goal is to become an intermediary capable of responding to
all customer needs.
In the same vein, Mobilexpress has launched an online version of the service. As with PayPal,
a customer can pay for the items in his/her shopping basket by clicking on the Mobilexpress
icon. Once again the transaction must be validated by SMS. This is not a particularly original
approach, but it follows the strategy of offering one single approval system to customers,
whatever purchasing channel they choose. At present, Mobilexpress claims to have thirty online
and thirty offline partners. The start-up is also busy arranging a deal with a telecoms operator
to create a mobile purse option. Launched last year, the system already has 5,000 customers
in Turkey. There are a number of other start-ups offering similar solutions. For example,
Slingshots enables a customer to put products from different retailers into the same shopping