Launched in 2021, VMLY&R Commerce is WPP’s end-to-end Creative Commerce Company, which works to deliver creativity that inspires conversion in the moment – regardless of channel. With its belief that commerce channels hold the most untapped potential to deliver memorable customer experiences and sales impact, the global agency has been leading the industry through the evolutions across the retail and commerce landscape.
Operating as a secondary brand within VMLY&R South Africa, VMLY&R Commerce amplifies the agency’s already impressive digital commerce offerings. These include its existing CX, UX, software development and ecommerce capabilities, as well as an expanded service offering that includes data-led strategy, user research, retail media and digital transformation consulting.
VMLY&R Commerce South Africa is equipped to curate the customer’s entire digital purchase journey, guiding them from awareness and discovery through the purchase experience and ultimately to advocacy. By combining data and technology to build a unified view of the consumer journey, the agency is designing creative commerce experiences that fulfil the client’s needs and the consumer’s wishes.
“As the last few years show us, Creative Commerce is in greater demand from clients across our industry. And with commerce being the fastest growing capability across the VMLY&R global network, I’m excited to see it launch with vigour on the African continent,” says Beth Ann Kaminkow, Global CEO, VMLY&R Commerce. “Imran Patel brings a wealth of experience, and with his leadership and guidance, we now further our commitment to helping brands in market rethink the role commerce plays in driving both brand equity, customer retention and business impact.”
Building On a Strong Foundation
Chief Experience Officer Imran Patel, who joined VMLY&R in 2022, leads the commerce offering bringing substantial experience in the UX, CX and technology space. "I believe that commerce is the 'other half' of what marketers need to be thinking about as they make plans for their brands going forward. While VMLY&R has taken its place among the leading South African full-service agencies, VMLY&R Commerce delivers on the critical services that engage the customer on the digital customer journey," he says.
This capability has been proven through work such as the powerful platform the agency built for the Foschini Group and the bespoke e-commerce and m-commerce platforms that the team developed for Nando’s, which took the Nando’s in-store experience and translated it into the digital space, attracting more than a million users. The team also created a revamped website for Metropolitan, which improved the client experience and user journey, decreasing the bounce rate by 17% and increasing the conversion rate beyond the KPI, and has contributed both strategically and operationally towards optimising the user experience journeys and user interface designs for brands such as Old Mutual, Makro, Hollard, BAT, Liberty, Ster-Kinekor Theatres, Momentum, Vodacom, CIPLA, Colgate, The Coca-Cola Company and more.
“VMLY&R South Africa has strong digital roots, having grown partly out of South Africa’s first full-service digital agency,” says Joint CEO Jarred Cinman. “Our expertise in the ecommerce and development space has remained a key part of our offering and it’s growing faster than ever as more and more businesses look to expand their operations and presence digitally. We have the necessary skills and experience to help clients identify their needs and develop robust solutions to meet them, and after the rapid digital adoption we’ve seen in the wake of the pandemic, the time feels right to house those capabilities under one specialist brand.”
Hitting The Ground Running
VMLY&R Commerce South Africa launches with two new clients already won – CIPLA and Renault, both of which were awarded in competitive pitches late in 2022.
“We have seen strong interest from the market in a focused, technology-centred, data-rich service to complement what we already do in the advertising space. While these are not new offerings to the agency, having the support of the larger VMLY&R Commerce global community and a beefed-up local skillset allows us to offer something new to South African and other African clients," says Imran.