Category Archives: Tips for Selling Online
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 [...]
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
As physical, brick-and-mortar retailers contemplate the online marketplace, they should consider their online stores in the same sense as if they were building another physical location. While it probably won’t be nearly as expensive to begin selling online as it is to build another physical outlet, the same degree of planning is involved. The article in the second installment of series where I assist physical, brick-and-mortar retailers migrating online. The first installment, “How Small Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Succeed Online; 4 Keys,”we published last month. Here are five planning tips for brick-and-mortar merchants to consider prior to opening their first online store. 1. Analyze Your Resources If you’re a busy retailer, you’re likely working long hours. It’s tough running a retail business, and the last thing you can imagine is piling more work on top of your plate. So, look around. If you have employees, ask them what experience they might have with computers, design, social networking and advertising. Even those with nothing more than an internship at an ad agency probably picked up enough to contribute. Almost everyone I talk to has a relative that “builds websites.” If you have one of these in your family tree, talk with them about your plans. But before engaging them to help you, emphasis the importance of your objective and ask them for examples of their work, just as you would any outside provider. Also, you have to consider not only the initial creation of your online store; the ongoing operational aspects of running an ecommerce operation means processing daily orders, managing online advertising, answering customer inquiries and updating product information. These are all functions of your current retail operation. Start out by cross-training your current staff to handle the online equivalent of their off-line responsibilities. For example, whomever handles customer inquires should respond to emails from your online customers; the person who manages product marketing in your store could learn how to update your online product presentations. Use the experience and knowledge you currently have in-house. 2. Consult Your Suppliers You may find that not all your suppliers will allow you to offer their products online. Usually most of them will, although they may have stipulations regarding price, presentation and shipping. While the number of distributors who drop ship is growing, there are still many in niche markets that don’t. To sell their products, you will have to maintain an additional inventory in [...]
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 [...]
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.
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.