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Online retailing has grown significantly in the last few years and increased online transactions are proving that South African consumers are feeling more and more comfortable translating their previously traditional purchasing habits to the more interactive and fast-paced online environment.
Christy Turner, co-founder of Webtickets, the market leader in integrated online ticketing solutions in South Africa, says, “We have noticed incredible changes in the online retail environment in South Africa over the last 10 years and I’m proud to say that South Africans have really stepped up to shopping online in a unique and dynamic way. Two of the biggest shifts we have experienced are mobile and the increased sophistication of the SA online audience. They have high expectations and insist on interacting and doing business online via their mobiles quickly, effectively but at the same time want technical advancements and features that provide them with increased functionality”.
The five online retail trends that will most impact SA businesses and consumers this year are:
1. Mobile, mobile, mobile
There has been a substantial increase in migration to mobile ecommerce from traditional web retailing, allowing instant impulse purchases anywhere, anytime. For example, friends out at a dinner party can now book tickets online via their mobiles for that rock concert they’ve all agreed to attend next week. Talk becomes immediate action. Another mobile first is that the emerging middle class will leapfrog the web and complete their first ecommerce transactions on their mobiles. “There is huge potential here as smartphones and bandwidth prices come down drastically and become more affordable for the lower LSMs,” adds Turner.
2. More customer control
Online customers are becoming more sophisticated e-shoppers and require enhanced flexibility, choice and control of their online transactional behaviour. Being able to actively manage their online accounts and view their past transactions via their web-based store accounts are extremely important.
3. Internet-enabled debit cards
Ecommerce is opening up to a new group of consumers as banks start issuing internet-enabled debit cards to their newly banked lower LSM customers, as opposed to credit cards. This will have a significant positive impact on online spend by income groups not previously able to transact online.
Increased attention will be focused on ecommerce personalisation. When browsing your favourite online shopping site, the consumer will be given a personalised and targeted experience. It’s about more than just welcoming consumers back to the site says Turner. “Online retailers need to effectively use customers’ past transactional history to create a unique shopping experience for them by offering products and services that are appealing and relevant to their lives.”
5. Less is More
There will be a switch to a “less is more” approach to social media for e-marketing purposes. Consumers can expect less distractions while browsing and shopping so that they can focus on the products on offer and make purchasing decisions. Only once the products are safely in the shopping trolley and the transaction is complete, will they be encouraged to share their experience virally via Facebook or Twitter.