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The future of e-commerce in SA

Mobile, online-offline convergence and simpler payment methods paint the landscape for where e-commerce is headed in South Africa, according to Luke McKend, country director for Google South Africa. Speaking at the uAfrica eCommerce Conference in Sandton on Wednesday (11 September 2013), McKend presented the challenges of doing e-commerce in South Africa, and painted a picture of what the market will look like in the next few years, according to trends seen by Google. According to McKend, the key challenge faced by online stores in South Africa is to deliver on the promise of e-commerce – to gain loyal customers through meeting expectations and provide a stable, trustworthy and secure service. Looking at the South African e-commerce market, McKend highlighted that the country is projected to see 29.8 million Internet users by 2016, with a 25% increase in online spend anticipated this year. Notably, McKend noted that, in 2014, South Africa is expected to have 80% smartphone penetration as mobile operators such as Vodacom and MTN are working to bring “sophisticated” devices to more people at a more affordable price. “The web is mobile,” McKend said, stating that most people’s first interaction with the Internet in South Africa will be through a mobile phone – and Google SA stats reveal that there are more mobile searches than desktop searches in South Africa. The future of e-commerce Quoting data from World Wide Worx, uAfrica head Andy Higgins said that, in 2013, South Africans are projected to spend as much as R4.2 billion online – excluding air tickets – representing an estimated 25% growth in the market. According to McKend, the “store of the future” will a convergence between physical retail and online – where customers don’t discern between buying something online or offline, but view purchases and transactions as “I’m buying this from a store.” The gap between what is considered “commerce” and what is considered “e-commerce” is going to narrow, McKend said, and technology is going to be core to the transition. To this end, McKend said that all stores will need to make sure all their products are available online – if not for purchase, at least for review. “We need to make sure that all the inventory we actually have lives in the cloud,” he said, adding that users need to be able to see everything retailers have, online. Users who don’t see products online, assume it’s not available [...]

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Sellers adopt savvy measures to entice online shoppers

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 [...]

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Till = Tablet – Is SA Ignoring the Need for Responsive Websites and Online Stores?

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 .

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4 Good Reasons to Sell Online

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 [...]

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How to Sell Online in SA …and be Successful

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 [...]

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E-commerce boom in South Africa predicted for 2013

SOUTH Africa will see a boom in e-commerce next year, according to Simon Leps, CEO of digital solutions provider Fontera Digital Works. “We are at a very exciting time for e-commerce in South Africa. A lot of the big brands have started to take notice and have realised they could be left behind. Locally, we have plans for about 10-15 e-commerce sites to be launched next year for our clients,” Mr Leps says. By global standards, the e-commerce platform in South Africa is small, but as the timidness of local shoppers fades, a growing number of time-poor and techno-savvy consumers are turning to the internet for retail therapy and bargain hunting. Research by World Wide Worx, commissioned by Google, indicates that online retail is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, growing at a rate of 30% a year. Online shoppers continue to increase locally, with 58% of the country’s 8.5-million internet users shopping online, and with the industry consensus aiming for 40% growth this year the highest rate in almost a decade. E-commerce start-up Zando recently landed an investment in the “three-digit million-rand” band from the asset management division of the global investment powerhouse JPMorgan. Zando is an online fashion store that sells local and international brands. “Attracting such a reputable international investor to support our future growth shows commitment and confidence in our business. This investment will assist the business by supporting its vision and all of its operations,” Manuel Koser, joint MD and co-founder of Zando, says. In order to gain market share from competitors Foschini‚ Woolworths and Truworths, fashion retailer Mr Price in July launched its online store‚ which allows shoppers to have their purchases delivered to their street address‚ post office or store for R35. “An online selling capability will enable Mr Price to further strengthen relationships with our target customers‚ who are tech-savvy and require a convenient and secure way to get their fashion‚” Mr Price CEO Stuart Bird says. Mr Price Home and Mr Price Sport are expected to follow with online stores next year. Woolworths CEO Ian Moir says the group’s online store is going well. “We’re seeing significant growth, but from a small base. We’ve invested a lot in our digital strategy, we’ve replatformed the site; it has our entire catalogue on now.… We’ve invested in better solutions in terms of picking and packing from stores, the distribution to the customers — [...]

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Imminent growth of South Africa’s e-commerce industry

The imminent growth of South Africa’s e-commerce industry presents a number of opportunities for business to leverage. However, it is also important to take cognisance of the specifics of the South African context to ensure that these benefits are fully optimised. Research by Morgan Stanley has estimated that sales of smart phones will exceed those of PCs in 2012, while research group Gartner has also forecast that smart phone penetration will reach 80% in South Africa by 2014. With the increase in smart phone users reaching a critical mass, combined with take-up of online and mobile payment solutions, this will lead to a rapid boom in e-commerce. According to Katherine Akeroyd at Step Advisory, a boutique professional services company, these two factors will significantly affect the online landscape for businesses in Africa over the next few years. “Internet penetration in South Africa has, so far, lagged many other countries, due to the high cost of access; however as more and more South Africans gain access to the internet for the first time through smart phone technology, this will radically alter the face of e-commerce in South Africa. “We have seen a number of new online payment solutions being developed including EasyPay and Virtual Card Services as well as the introduction of PayPal in South Africa. As consumers begin to understand that such services are secure, we are likely to see a far higher take up in online payments in South Africa. “In addition, we have also seen the emergence of successful mobile payment solutions such as Fundamo, a South African company that was bought by Visa, enabling people to make payments via an innovative e-wallet solution. It is positive to note that South Africa is at the forefront of technical innovation and as this solution is made available to local banking institutions, it will further drive confidence in online and mobile transactions.” As a result of this convergence between online and mobile payments, local businesses will be able to reach a far wider pool of potential customers than ever before. “While this change broadens the customer base available, it is also essential that companies that do aim to operate online conceptualise a robust strategy. Engaging with customers online is very different to physical interaction and companies need to develop their strategy for this online channel. “Businesses wishing to maximize their online presence must ensure that their products and services are [...]

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How to Create Killer Product Pages

We all want to be complemented for our Online Shop. We put a lot of time, thought, effort, hopefully some creativity, or we may have even hired a costly agency to take care of the whole caboodle. But people don’t seem comfortable on the site and aren’t making purchases even though you have plenty of traffic per month. – Sound familiar? Well, researchers found that there are just 3 primary things which prevent product “browsers” from being product purchasers. These are: Insufficient Product Information. Too Small Product Image. Too many distractions. To get a complete overview of the top 21 point in online sales, keep reading below.

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For Small Biz: Your Website is Your Cash Register

There is some particularly great information and tips towards the end of this Infographic. For a comprehensive eCommerce solution for South African Small business check out CloudSales.co.za.

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Welcome to Ecommerce News Africa

This is the birthplace of this site which hosts a compilation of the most relevant and hottest trends in South African Ecommerce as well as relevant trends throughout both developed and emerging ecommerce scenes internationally. If you are looking to become an ecommerce fundie, build-up a basic understanding of ecommerce and its application for you, than this is the place to be. For contributing articles and input please contact: [email protected]

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