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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, [...]
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 [...]
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