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Category Archives: Innovation

7 Reasons Why E-Commerce is Growing in Africa

In early 2013, the Boston Consulting Group published ‘Ten Things to Know About African Consumers’. Seven out of ten of these continent-wide trends are likely to boost online retail growth and B2C e-commerce in Africa. I’ve listed the brief below. Optimism about the Future – African’s, with the exception of Northern African nations are exceptionally positive about future economic developments. By and large, Africans are very entrepreneurial. Partially due to a lack of established career paths and an inadequate formal education structure, ambitious individuals tend towards creating new opportunities. Techno- Freaks – There is wild craze for all things digital and the speed and scale the internet and technology uptake is driving major change and economic opportunities. From football clubs to soft drinks, the African continent loves the international brand. This is a big selling point for international players with a serious brand appeal of value add. Massive discrepancies are often found in official market data and real markets, which include parallel and informal sector sales, can often be much higher and reflect greater opportunities. Quality sells. Despite higher prices, a better value-add and long-term investment coupled with higher prices can conquer market share. Look at the Toyota brand, but there are many other examples to back this up. Successful, modern retail outlets, greater varieties and cheaper products drive the cognizant African consumer. The evolving retail preferences on the continent imply that if online retail can offer convenience as well as opportunities for cost-saving, then it has a bright future in the coming years. While online retail has a ways to go, more affluent markets in Africa are ready for the practice and as the rapidly growing economies begin to stabilize it is expected that a massive wave of online e-commerce will follow. Africa may be lagging in online stores and e-commerce, but with growing wealth and broadband availability a massive spike is expected of the 3-7 year period with growth of between 20-25% in the next 3 years leading up to it. For more see: and for Online Retail Solutions & e-Commerce Author: Jonathan D. Novotny is an e-commerce evangelist and co-founder of the CloudShop/CloudSales online retail franchise.

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The Best Way to Grow your Business in 2014

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, [...]

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E-Commerce Companies Bypass the Middlemen – NY Times

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 [...]

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Mobile is Monstrous – So say the prophets.

Mobile is Monstrous, or so say the Online Sales predicting prophets. Jonathan Novotny, founder of SA innovation market-leader CloudSales, is so convinced of the “Move to Mobile” that all solutions implemented starting in 2013 will be native, mobile compatible. Paul Skeldon of Internet Retailing predicted that “more than half of consumers will buy Christmas gifts via mobile – 73% for the first time.” Now whether that benchmark will be hit or not is not relevant. What is relevant, is that South African small businesses should be looking at ways into the ecommerce foray and should not delay. “With professional packages starting from as low as R 299 per month for intermediate or even R99 per month for a starter solution, there is no excuse to sit on the side lines” says Novotny. Internet Retailing listed a number impressive results in the paragraphs below. Consumers worldwide are finally convinced by mobile commerce and are keen to use it for their seasonal purchases, with 55% of people across the globe likely or certain to buy gifts via their mobile device this Christmas, according to a global study by mobile media company BuzzCity. In the UK alone, despite never buying gifts via mobile before 47% of consumers are planning to purchase Christmas gifts via a mobile device for the first time this year. The poll also highlighted that around a third of consumers (31%) claimed that they are planning to spend over half of their overall festive budget on purchases via mobile, avoiding the traditional Christmas crush in favour of shopping from the comfort of their home or while they are on the move. Dr KF Lai, CEO of BuzzCity tells us: “These findings have given us the clearest indication to date that consumer trust in mobile shopping is higher than it’s ever been. The age of mobile commerce is finally here – and it has been a long time coming! It seems that the industry and retailers have done a good job of winning consumer confidence and trust to overcome the barriers that existed previously. This creates a very significant opportunity for advertisers and marketers wishing to reach their audiences via mobile at this time of year.” Convenience appeared to be a key benefit for those planning to shop on their mobile devices with almost three quarters of those surveyed (63%) saying they would be more likely to buy via their mobile [...]

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Going Mobile: 5 Keys for Selling Products on Mobile Devices

5 years ago, not everyone knew what a smartphone was and not many people owned them. You know how trendy mobile devices are now and that they will only become more common in the near future.  But, what does the growth of mobile device usage mean for selling products through e-commerce? Today, I’ll help you understand the specifics that will help you realize just how important it is to make your website smart phone friendly in order to sell to the mobile device market.  To begin, take a look at this picture, courtesy of eMarketer: In 2010, online sales from mobile devices accounted for just $3.5 billion – nothing to get too excited about.  But, that number almost doubled in 2011, more than tripled by 2012, and by 2015, it will have increased by 8.85 times, with about $31 billion in total sales being done online through mobile devices at that point! Now, that’s a piece of pie that you want to have a part of. 2015′s Only Two Years Away – How can You Position Yourself to Get Some of the Sales? 40% of visitors to your site who have a poor experience will leave to visit a competing site.  How can you make sure you make a good impression?  Here are some tips to follow to make sure your site is friendly for mobile users. > Keep it simple, stupid.  To maximize your site’s ability at selling products, all you have to do is to make sure you site has an easy-to-use, functional design.  That’s it!  Don’t make it any more complicated than is necessary. > Don’t be afraid to pay for plugins.  If your e-commerce site also features a CMS like WordPress, make sure you pay for plugins that increase functionality for your users.  The payment the creators of such plugins request pails in comparison to the benefits they return. > Optimize for slower connection speeds.  Mobile bandwidth hasn’t caught up to hardwired bandwidth.  Make sure all the images your site uses appear neat and clean, but are compressed and optimized for the fastest download time possible. > Make your site flow vertically.  Most mobile users browse websites vertically.  So, accommodate their use by making sure your site’s design requires no horizontal scrolling whatsoever – it’ll only frustrate the mobile crowd. > Use larger buttons.  Mobile users use their fingers to click on different things on your [...]

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