Tactile, from one-man business to technology leader

Over the past 20 years, Tactile Technologies has gone from a new entrant to a leader in the fields of touch screen technology, bar code scanning and payment solutions.

Having arrived in South Africa as a 20-something traveller, Italian Mauro Mercuri quickly fell in love with the country, and more, he recognised the business opportunities within the landscape. He explains that he recognised that SA was lagging a bit behind in certain technologies and saw an opportunity to build a company based on technology that was not yet readily available in the country.

Twenty years later, as Tactile Technologies celebrates this significant milestone, the company is a key player in the fields of touch screen technology, bar code scanning and payment solutions.

“For the past two decades, we have imported and distributed high quality solutions in these areas, adding value to our clients – in verticals such as retail, hospitality and fast food – through our focus, expertise, knowledge and support,” notes Mercuri, who is now chairman of the business.

“I was only 26 when I launched the company, so being quite young and launching a business on a new continent, there were certainly challenges around local culture and even ways of working, but these were ultimately overcome and learned from. It has certainly been an exciting journey.”

He suggests that the initial challenge was simply getting the Tactile Technologies brand known in the market and building credibility, particularly as the business was going head-to-head with the large incumbents in the market.

“By the 2007/2008 period, we had begun to win some big contracts, such as those with Engen and Spar, and with these as references, it made it much easier to gain traction with other large customers. At the same time, it enabled growth thanks to increased liquidity and also helped us build our reputation for being trustworthy and customer-focused.

“In fact, our customer focus and our expertise are what we consider our key attributes. We are all about building and maintaining relationships and consistently living up to our commitments to take care of our clients.”

His colleague, Steven Baeyens, Tactile’s Director for Product and Projects, points out that over the last 20 years, the company has shifted from a pure focus on touch screen technologies. He indicates that some six years ago, Tactile moved into the auto ID market, which really is a complementary field to that of touch screens.

“We believe we have been consistent market disruptors – from our original entry into the touch screen space, and on to our most recent area of focus, which is payment terminals. Tactile quickly realised that it made sense to provide an end-to-end offering regardless of application, encompassing touch screens and bar code scanners, as well as payment terminals,” says Baeyens.

He explains that such payment terminals are multifunction ones, enabling not just credit and debit card payments, but also allowing for the purchase of additional goods, such as airtime or electricity.

Mercuri adds that for Tactile, success is not only reflected in financial prosperity, but also by its people. The company has grown from a one-man business to one with over 50 employees, and the business consistently invests in youth, regularly promoting those who are most successful.

“We have promoted technicians into product management, administrators into procurement and general management. We believe this strong focus on people makes us a much stronger team, which naturally improves customer service and leads to more sales.

“Tactile Technologies is proud to have achieved a successful 20 years in South Africa, and to have served our customers with pride and focus throughout this time. To this end, we recently held celebrations of this anniversary in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, with many of our key customers. While obviously all COVID-19 protocols were respected, it was wonderful to share quality time and a quality experience with our customers, and we look forward to taking care of them for another 20 years at least,” concludes Mercuri.

More information on Tactile Technologies can be found on www.tactiletechnologies.com.

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