For many years, South Africa’s e-commerce industry lagged drastically in comparison with overseas industries. But Covid-19 changed that, and virtually overnight businesses went online and customers quickly became comfortable with shopping remotely. While we may not be able to predict exactly how this trend will settle in post-pandemic times, we can be sure that not only will e-commerce remain a significant channel for most South African businesses, but it also holds the potential for massive industry growth. While a business may not necessarily operate online, like for example health professionals or manicurists, e-commerce can still be an important space for brand building, brand awareness and for retaining market share. So what key e-commerce trends do South African business owners need to think about to help them shape their businesses in a post-pandemic world?
1. Customers are still a priority in spite of digitisation
Like it or not, the rise of digitisation is not an excuse to disengage from your customer. Your customers continue to remain at the heart of your business and putting distance between yourself and them should not be extended unnecessarily. Rather, we need to think about digitisation as being an augmentation of existing strategy, rather than a strategy in and of itself. So it is important to stay focused on using digitisation to get to know your customer even better, by understanding what they need and how much their purchase preferences may have changed over the course of the pandemic.
2. The platform economy is set to become permanent
A smart way for small businesses to grow a presence online is by tapping into existing platforms. If your company sells a small inventory of products you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel by building a costly and complex e-commerce store. Rather find existing platforms like kajabi, which are user-friendly, affordable and empower you to take advantage of what is already out there.
3. Customer data is crucial
One of the main drivers of e-commerce growth is going to be customer data. This will trump traditional sale methods. Hold in mind that every time your customer buys from your online store, they are leaving behind a trail of valuable information about how and why they buy. When analysed, this information can tell you everything you need to know about servicing your customer’s needs and so customer data is key to slowly improving your customer experience and growing your turnover both online and in-store.
4. Card payments will continue to become a lot more accessible
Cumbersome credit card machines are in decline and are being replaced by smarter, cheaper and smaller payment and technology gateways. Meaning that now operators can process transactions even more safely, securely and instantly than ever before.
5. Enterprise solutions will continue to solve a wide range of problems
While it may seem that e-commerce is highly fragmented, this is being addressed at a systems level. Here many institutions are consolidating a wide range of features in order to streamline the path to e-commerce. This means that business owners will be saved from the hassle of finding independent providers like payment gateways, delivery options, fulfilment solutions and hosting and will provide the option of many integrated packages bundled into one service offering.
The bottom line
E-commerce is here to stay. While this may feel incredibly daunting, nowadays there are many options which lessen the barriers and provide a more seamless transition that will make the space a lot less intimidating for business owners who are used to running brick-and-mortar establishments. Hold in mind that if there is a worry that upgrading your e-commerce store will be a costly exercise, there are alternative lending options which are tailor-made for retailers, where funding can be obtained in under 48 hours. Ask us how and we will be happy to facilitate your ambitious growth.