By: Shane Biegnaar, Growth Consultant
There has been an uptake in online shopping due to the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, in South Africa and across the world. COVID-19 has challenged and shifted many of the barriers consumers have had to online shopping.
Over the past decade, customers are constantly changing the way they want to shop and businesses are trying to keep up. Customers are now fluid online shoppers who search, compare, and buy from online sites, marketplaces, mobile apps, physical stores, and social sites. As innovative technology aids their journey, consumers are looking for remarkable experiences across these digital and physical touchpoints with brands.
The increase in online shopping in South Africa presents an exciting growth opportunity for retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. To accelerate digital commerce in South Africa, research indicates that it will become increasingly important to design offerings that solve specific consumer concerns and use consumer insights to strengthen differentiation.
eCommerce encompasses any commercial transaction that involves the transfer of information across the internet.
That’s a broad description for a reason. eCommerce can take many different formats. It can include a branded website, mobile app, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shoppable Ads, and Pinterest Buyable Pins.
- Cost-effective and Affordable to Launch: When you’re first starting out, eCommerce allows you to avoid many of the large, upfront investments that traditional retail can incur – like a physical storefront, inventory, or payroll. With an online store, you can sequentially build out your business as your sales grow.
- Access new markets and customers: Online channels aren’t limited to who can physically visit and purchase from your store. Whether you’re just starting out or an existing seller, you can reach new markets and customers online that you couldn’t before.
- Customers start their purchases online: 87% of shoppers begin product searches on digital channels compared to previous years. Even if they end up buying from a physical store, shoppers are more likely to start their search online
- Open 24/7/365: Your online store is open 24/7/365 available anywhere, any time. So, time does not act as a barrier, wherever the customer and buyers are. Say goodbye to the days of trading hours.
- Gain valuable insights: One advantage of online selling you might not have thought of is how easy it makes it to collect, measure, and act on customer insights and data. If you want to be hyper-focused on the customer experience, then you need to own your consumer data.
This growth was predicated by Mastercard’s 2020 study on consumer spending, which found that 68% of South Africans were spending more time shopping online than prior to the pandemic.
And while the e-commerce industry is still expected to continue its upward trajectory, tipping R42 billion in sales in 2021 and increasing its total retail market share to around 4%, the coronavirus-induced boom is unlikely to be repeated.