Data on Informal Trade Now at the Fingertips of Brand Managers

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Johannesburg, 8 October 2018: 5M2T (5 Minutes 2 Town) is offering brands and wholesale distributors unprecedented access to data and analysis of South Africa’s informal trade outlets – and it’s all accessible through a mobile app.


5M2T started out as an innovative distribution model that helped commercial brands reach South Africa’s lucrative spaza shop and informal trade sector. After engaging with brands making use of its distribution model, 5M2T identified a need for more focused data and analysis on this sector. This led to the launch of their in-market audit platform that offers brands unique and highly detailed data on informal trade within a fraction of the time and with far greater reach and penetration than any other market research offering.

According to Stuart Smith, Operations Director at 5M2T, the problem that brands are facing is that the majority of data available is not accurate or specified to this unique retail model. “We currently lack a platform that allows distribution strategies to be planned around accurate data on informal trade. Often the research that is performed and data collected is one sided and does not take into account the unique idiosyncrasies of the informal trade sector. In spite of the fact that informal trade can fundamentally alter the fortunes of brands in South Africa, the investment into market research remains limited to anecdotal evidence and assumptions which couldn’t be further from the actual truth happening on the ground.”

5M2T’s audit platform provides commercial brands with valuable information on informal trade outlets such as their purchase frequencies, stock replenishment cycles, buying habits and the most brand-loyal product categories. They can go even deeper to provide highly detailed information – for example, which spazas in Soweto have refrigeration units. “Our solution is a focused platform that collects specific data tailored to the needs of brand managers across all product categories. This allows us to provide our clients with data that will maximize their distribution opportunities.”

5M2T is able to offer this in-depth research and audit capability off their current mobile application, using their existing network of agents who already have established relationships, networks and routes on the ground. The 5M2T mobile app delivers this information instantly providing a level of access to market data in real time that has not been offered before. The app provides accurate and extensive reporting on sales alongside market research monthly, quarterly or yearly across over 60,000 spaza outlets, as well as neighbouring businesses such as salons, kota establishments and barbers.

A full audit at the nearly 5000 spaza outlets in Soweto takes a maximum of one month from commencement to delivery of results, including a GPS heatmap of outlets visited as well as in-depth data about stock availability, shelf-space, pricing variations, replenishing cycles and whatever other information the client has opted to include on their custom-built wireframe.

Because the entire system is instantaneously scaleable, extending to broader geographical areas can be achieved in comparable timeframes. The data upload in real-time via mobile, creates additional opportunities to track promotions, product launches or sales rep activity on the ground.

“Brand owners, sales managers and even executive level management believe that they know their brands’ performance and position in the informal market but once we deploy on the ground, we discover huge gaps and insights and are then able to accurately shape a distribution model aligned to the brand’s specific needs,” Smith explains. “The brands that we have engaged with have been astounded at the data that we have collected. It is changing their perception of informal trade as a major part of their strategies.”

The 5M2T audit capability is available nationally, SADC territories and will soon be rolled out into key markets on the continent. “Our aim is to take the guesswork out of the informal trade market and provide transparent and accurate information to clients in a fraction of the time and cost they are used to, on an easy to use platform that it right at their fingertips. We’ve managed to do this without trying to formalize the informal sector, by leveraging on our deep relationships with our networks of spaza owners,” concludes Smith.

For more information on how to access the 5M2T audit capability for your brand/s, visit or email

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