Pan-African Payments company, Cellulant, has built the 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 its 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.

Integration of Augmented Reality into online shopping

Mula Shops 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 in social commerce 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 cell phone 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.

Cellulant has integrated Facebook's Augment into messenger as a way to enhance an online shoppers experience

Cellulant has integrated Facebook’s Augment into messenger as a way to enhance an online shoppers experience

Cellulant’s Partnership with Facebook

In July this year, Facebook announced at its F8 developer conference that they were giving advertisers new ways to show off their products, including with augmented reality. Cellulant is the only African company and one of only five entities in the world to partner with Facebook to use Augmented Reality (AR) in e-commerce. In an article appearing on Tech Crunch, Facebook said that Michael Kors was the first brand to test out AR ads in the News Feed.

Proud Dzambukira, the Facebook Product Partnership Lead, Middle East & Africa commented:

“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 to 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.”

The gig economy and the rise of ‘Hustle-preneurs’

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.

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.

 Huddah Cosmetics as first Mula Shops Merchant

The success of Huddah Cosmetics, a beauty company, is credited to its founder, Kenyan model, and entrepreneur, Alhuda Njoroge better known as Huddah Monroe. Born and raised in Nairobi, Huddah has captured the attention of the Kenyan masses and enjoys a huge following on Social Media. Launched in 2016, Huddah Cosmetics provides a solution to long-lasting day-to-day makeup needs for African women.

“I started my company out of pure passion and vision to offer every woman a product that celebrate the diversity of African beauty. Huddah Cosmetics is for every woman who is strong-willed, outspoken and stands for what they believe regardless of what the society thinks,”says Huddah Monroe. “I am excited to be the first Hustle-preneur to work with Cellulant and Facebook as they launch Mula shops using Augmented Reality on Facebook Messenger. This is an opportunity for my company to give a unique online shopping experience of our beauty products to our customers in a way that has never happened before.”

This partnership with Huddah Cosmetics is in line with one of Cellulant’s objective to empower youth and transform their online hustle into a viable and scalable business by creating platforms that help grow their bottom-line.  As a payment platform, the company is investing in advancing Africa’s economic footprint by building payments infrastructure that gives the customer the choice on how they manage and use their money. Ultimately, the payments infrastructure will power the success of millions of businesses by providing a simple and easy way to receive money from their customers.