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E-COMMERCE is going through an innovative phase of development as more individuals have access to the internet and more retailers take their businesses online. Internet users in South Africa reached 13.2-million in 2012, up from 11.2-million in 2011, according to World Wide Worx. “We are forecasting an increase of 2.7-million new internet users this year, 2-million of whom will be mobile users,” says MD Arthur Goldstuck. This figure does not include new tablet users who have typically had previous internet access using another type of device and are therefore included in the previous figures. The main online activity of mobile internet users is sending and receiving e-mails, followed by browsing and surfing for leisure, followed by online research, says Mr Goldstuck. He says in 2012 South Africa’s online shoppers spent a total of R3.38bn on purchasing traditional retail products — not including air tickets, accommodation and travel — reflecting a growth of 30% over 2011. “We are expecting a further 25% growth in online retail this year,” he adds. Mr Goldstuck says dominant new online shopping trends tend to emerge every two years. He says four or so years ago saw the rise of websites allowing rand purchases of products aggregated from overseas sites, particularly electronics goods, and two years ago group buying websites started making a major impact on the market. “More recently we are seeing a new category of high fashion websites such as Zando and City Mob emerge, which aggregate name brand clothing.” These online retailers differentiate themselves with low-cost delivery and the ability to return goods, whereby the courier waits while the customer tries on the clothing. Liz Hillock, head of marketing at Kalahari.com, says the highest conversion rate of internet users from browsing to buying is among tablet users. “Last December we sold three-and-a-half times more tablets than laptops, and these users have a higher propensity to shop online.” As a result, online retailers and other e-commerce oriented businesses are designing their websites to cater for tablets and other mobile devices, she says. She says the recently released 2013 annual Kalahari.com Mobile and Tablet Survey shows that 92% of online shoppers own a smartphone compared to 78% last year, and 68% have purchased items online using their phone. The survey also shows that 47% of respondents own a tablet compared to 34% last year. Ms Hillock says more experienced online shoppers are buying an increasingly [...]
Here you will see the latest trends in online shopping in South Africa and the impact which both good customer support as well as the credit card penetration is having in the online retail economy.
The South African market is going to be in a competitive space as larger players and international retailers and service providers continue to penetrate the market and seek to absorb sectors currently dominated by SMEs. How can the average business ensure sustainable growth in 2014? One word: Online. Everything, and I mean everything, is moving online. Plumbers see the need to promote themselves online and so do seedling growers, vehicle manufacturers and paper mills. Accounts, orders, communication, storage and recruiting are more efficient online and the list goes on and on. Every year, a percentage of the established markets of both offline advertising and traditional retail are siphoned off by the internet. This is what is growing global e-Commerce at over 20% per annum. While the e-market is growing organically, it’s mainly hijacking existing offline revenues. Despite this, it might seem “safer” to adopt a “wait and see” approach to investments, but it is clear that those pursuing disruptive innovation through leveraging customer relations and efficiencies online are reaping the results. (Just check out some of the market share and brand equity FNB acquired by being a first mover in innovative online consumer engagement.) 2013 is the year to prepare one’s online partners (retail, strategy and media) and draft a serious online investment strategy. I’m not talking about putting up GoogleAds, but seriously considering ways to undercut the competition and offer more value to your clients in 2014 through online efficiencies, portals, information and retail channels. If you’re not, someone else will be. Taking the Pain While some have been burned by over-investing in a limited online market, the majority of innovative internet-launched initiatives are reaping a great ROI. But to avoid painful expenditures and misdirection of online marketing, the business should keep in mind: 1. The Internet = NOT Magic. What doesn’t work, sell or attract offline, probably won’t work, sell or attract online. 2. Is it needed? Is the facility of service being offered online really needed? a. How much time does it same the client? b. How easy is it for the client to do? (If it takes more than 5 seconds for them to figure out the flow, dump the idea.) c. How many current clients do you have that would benefit from this? Don’t expect to triple market-share just because of an online gadget. 3. Is there a way to Test the Market with your approach, [...]
Because of the numerous advantages and benefits, more and more people say they prefer online shopping over conventional shopping these days. It’s important to understand the psyche of the online shopper. Cater to this and you’ll have them flocking to your… er, online store. Here’s what they say are important to them — and here’s how you can get a leg up by catering to these desires and fantasies. Know what the consumer wants and play to it — plug into your thinking all the ways that you can meet these desires, through your competitive intelligence, competitive pricing, customer service, and more. From shopping in their pajamas to convenience for elderly and disabled, the consumer comments below highlight what’s positive about online shopping for them. Also because of wider choice, not subject to upselling or impulse buying, better prices, good for the environment, and more. There are many reasons for online retailers to be sanguine about the future of online retail. Here are some consumers’ reasons for buying online, in their own words: 1) Convenience: Where else can you do shopping, even at midnight, wearing your jammies? You don’t have to wait in a line or wait till the shop assistant helps you with your purchases. You can do your shopping in minutes even if you are busy, apart from saving time and avoiding crowds. Online shops give us the opportunity to shop 24 x 7 and also reward us with ‘no pollution’ shopping. 2) Better Prices: I get cheap deals and better prices from online stores because products come to you directly from the manufacturer or seller without middlemen involved. Many online shops offer discount coupons and rebates. 3) Variety: One can get several brands and products from different sellers at one place. You can get in on the latest international trends without spending money on travel; you can shop from retailers in other parts of the country or even the world without being limited by geographic area… These stores offer a far greater selection of colors and sizes than you will find locally. If you find that the product you need is out of stock online, you can take your business to another online store where the product is available. 4) Fewer Expenses: Many times when we opt for conventional shopping we tend to spend a lot more than the required shopping expenses, on things like eating out, traveling, impulsive shopping etc. 5) [...]
Online retail businesses are a popular option for entrepreneurs with minimal capital to invest up front. What’s more, online retail is a great business to run as a home-based, solo, parent or part-time entrepreneur. It can also be a fantastic outlet for your creative talent or hobby. So you’re asking yourself—what does it actually cost to start an online retail business? We’ve got a real-life example for you: Amy Weaver, corporate refugee and owner of a new online greeting card company. Amy took her creative ideas about a tried-and-true product—greeting cards—and launched her own online retail business. “Your words, not ours” is the humble tag line that sums up the unique niche of Amy’s Whoopzie Daizie Cardz. “I’m a card addict,” Amy explains. “But for me, greeting cards always seemed a little over the top—the glitter and the butterflies and everything else. I just want them to be simple. Maybe start a thought or give a good impression of what the card will be about on the front, and then let me fill in the words.” Amy, a 32-year-old Dallas resident, began thinking about starting her own business more than a year and a half before she taxied down the runway. Her career as an airline property manager left her feeling confined. “Both my parents had their own companies, and I always felt claustrophobic working for someone else,” Amy admits. “So I’ve been attracted to the entrepreneurial lifestyle through experience.” “I was drawn to the card industry because it’s a low-risk industry,” she continues. “Other than printing cards and the other basics, it’s pretty low cost—it’s not like I’m building superconductors.” To finance her startup venture, Amy secured a $30,000 line of credit from a Texas bank and tapped into personal savings to keep up with her regular living expenses. While securing a line of credit is not typical for a startup that has been in business less than two years, many entrepreneurs are able to leverage personal savings, credit cards, friends and family or home equity loans to get started. Amy then mapped out three critical areas on which to focus her financial resources in the initial startup phase: designing a dynamic website creating a top-quality product implementing a strategic marketing program. Let’s take a look at these priorities one by one. Designing a dynamic website “First, I had to have a wonderful website because essentially [...]
It seems as if the whole world has recognized the need for responsive sites and nowhere should that acceptance be more evident than in emerging markets such as South Africa, where most of the new online data consumers (and the next generation of online retail consumers) first got online via a mobile device. Yet established players are hesitant to switch systems and seem to hoping all those pesky small devices are just going to go away. The good news is: “They’re not!” According to both predictions and sales reports, tablets are not the future, tablets are the NOW. T-Commerce (online sales made via tablet devices) grew by almost 100% in 2012 and I’m curious how 2013 will shape up. While I think Microsoft may have been a bit early with an immersive, mobile-oriented OS, it is plain to see that if the largest software developer is creating flagship products targeting mobile devices, than perhaps we should too. The mobile trend is here to stay and it is only a matter of time until the till becomes the tablet. Romero, of bitesizebschool.com says: ”Mobile/social/wireless communication is what people are buying, not desktops. Laptops, tablets, phones and peripherals will work better together in the months to come. Cables are and will continue to disappear.” Author: Jonathan Novotny Jonathan Novotny is Author, Speaker and Social Entrepreneur in Africa. He currently heads up www.changetheworld.org.za and is co-founder of www.cloudsales.co.za .
The ecommerce shopping cart is a software package that accepts customer payment and shipping information and facilitates the distribution of that information to merchants, payment processors, or others. At the surface, an ecommerce shopping cart is really something that every beginning online merchant intuitively recognizes. For example, almost no one would consider opening an online store without having made a few purchases online themselves. In the course of buying books from Barnes & Noble or clothes from Gap, that new ecommerce entrepreneur no doubt encountered a shopping cart. From the consumer’s perspective, an ecommerce shopping cart may seem like little more than a web form, little different than an email newsletter subscription or an online registration form. BY ARMANDO ROGGIO at Practical Ecommerce
When the founders of a start-up that sells eyeglasses online, Warby Parker, began investigating why designer glasses cost several hundred dollars, they discovered that everyone in the process was taking a cut: designers, manufacturers, brands, wholesalers and retailers. Warby Parker’s Manhattan headquarters includes a showroom. The company plans to open a stand-alone store soon. But what if they left out most of those people? “I had been to the factories and knew what it costs to manufacture glasses and knew the cost didn’t warrant a $700 price tag,” said Neil Blumenthal, a founder of the company. Inspired by glasses they found in their grandparents’ attics, the founders sketched a few frames, hired the same Chinese factories that make designer glasses and started selling directly to consumers online. By doing so, they eliminated enough of the cost to charge customers just $95 a pair. Warby Parker is part of a wave of e-commerce companies that are trying to build premium brands at discount prices by cutting out middlemen and going straight to manufacturers. They make everything from bedding (Crane and Canopy), to office supplies (Poppin), nail polish (Julep), tech accessories (Monoprice), men’s shoes (Beckett Simonon) and shaving supplies (Harry’s). The result is generally cheaper products for consumers and higher profit margins for the companies. Big retailers discovered long ago that controlling the supply chain benefited their bottom lines, which is why companies like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods sell many products under their own brands. At Macy’s and Kohl’s, such “private label” brands make up almost half of their sales. Start-ups have traditionally struggled to match those efforts. They do not have as much brand recognition as big retailers, and persuading consumers to take a chance on, say, Warby Parker eyeglasses instead of Prada’s can be difficult. “The challenge is, if you’ve never heard of the brand, you wonder, ‘Should I buy it when it’s 20 percent cheaper?’ ” said Raj Kumar, a supply chain consultant at A. T. Kearney. “Or should I buy a brand I trust?” What is empowering the upstarts now is the Web’s ability to reach lots of consumers without the costs of operating physical stores as well as a change in manufacturers’ willingness to work with small brands. The founders of Deal Décor, whose model was to sell furniture directly to customers, worked at Target and Home Depot Direct before starting their company. They said they saw an [...]
Ecommerce sales are growing. Online sales topped $1 trillion worldwide for the first time last year and there are good reasons you should consider selling online now to start getting your share. There are really two kinds of businesses or entrepreneurs that should be considering ecommerce opportunities right now. Small, successful brick-and-mortar retailers that want to see their company grow. Individuals with a passion or interest that translate well into a niche or specialty online store. What follows are four good reasons for these folks — small brick-and-mortar retailers or inspired entrepreneurs — to consider opening an online retail business now. 1. You Can Make Money Selling Online Ecommerce sales for retail goods are growing faster than offline sales for brick-and-mortar stores. comScore, the trend-tracking firm, said that in spite of “continued economic uncertainty, 2012 was a strong year for retail ecommerce. Throughout the year, growth rates versus the prior year were in the mid-teens to outpace growth at brick-and-mortar retail by a factor of approximately 4x.” Separately, comScore noted that online retail sales grew 14 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2012, reaching $56.8 billion in the U.S. alone. The fourth quarter also represented the 13th consecutive quarter of positive ecommerce growth and the 9th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. “It is clear that the online channel has won over the American consumer and will increasingly be relied upon to deliver on the dimensions of lower price, convenience, and selection,” said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, in a release. Finally, U.S. retail ecommerce sales represented 10 percent of American retail spending, excluding food, gas, and automobiles, in the fourth quarter of 2012. This is the first quarter in U.S. economic history that electronic commerce represented such a significant part of the total available market for retail consumer goods. The fact that ecommerce is growing will not guarantee success for new online retail ventures. But is does offer an opportunity to make money selling online. Where opportunity exists, entrepreneurs can excel. 2. Shoppers Are Online Already In 2012, Google worked with Ipsos OTX, a market research firm, to survey potential holiday shoppers about their 2012 holiday shopping intentions. One of the key findings was that 80 percent of the 1,500 shoppers queried would research products and prices online before they would make a purchase. Clearly the Internet is the engine driving retail. Consider [...]
By: Jonathan D. Novotny | Founder of CloudSales.co.za Most online stores operated by small businesses in South Africa fail to provide the user with an experience which leaves them at-ease and confident about their order being processed and delivered. The good news is, most of these problems are easy to avoid. Let’s look at the most common issues and the simple solutions. Design: The usual design issues arise from the use of: Outdated, irrelevant structures – Ensure that you are using the latest version of one of the global most widely implemented platforms – These are currently OpenCart, Magento, PrestaShop or Shopify if you want a DIY solution with no hands on support available. Weird, unusual or incomplete themes – If you want to be pro, just purchase a quality theme. This is like your skin, and regardless of how good your structure is, if your site looks like a ‘90s website, you aren’t going to inspire confidence. Just downright bad product photos – Get better ones. Give people what they want – If they are looking for contact details, don’t offer them a form to fill out, or if they want to pay and order online, don’t ask them to fill out an order form “…So you can get back to them.” Functionality: If you have time to set up your store and are an IT genius then there’s nothing stopping you from implementing this yourself. Responsive Design means the website scales down to the size and complexity of the device viewing it. For example, mobile devices see a narrow site with small product images and a simpler menu. Automatic Invoicing – Keep in mind that some shoppers may not want to pay via credit card, so give them an EFT option or have the system send them an automated invoice for payment. Integration with SA Payment Gateways – or just setup your own PayPal account & link to that. Integration with Courier Services Special offers, Coupons & Vouchers – You may not be planning on using this straight off, but if you are investing time and thought into your solution, best make sure that it has everything you need to build on. The Vital Final Touches: Use more & larger Product Images. Most insecurity online comes from not seeing the product up-close-and-personal. So make it as easy as possible for your clients by having pictures from every [...]