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There has been a massive uptake of ecommerce in South Africa over the last three years with an increase in the number of online shoppers who are buying more frequently than ever before. The online shopping scene in South Africa is getting more competitive with many international companies now entering the local market hoping to take advantage of this growth. These companies have the potential to disrupt and take over categories with their international expertise and large investments. This means that every online retailer, whether they sell to consumers or businesses, have to up their game to compete with the big boys.
Here are five elements that can give you a real fighting chance against your competition.
1. Great user experience
Customers associate well-designed websites with quality and reputation. According to the Effective Measure Report of December 2013, 22% of online shoppers revealed that a good site design will see them spending more money on a website. Apart from an attractive site, every website should have a logical flow so that customers always know what to do next and how to get back to where they were. Ensure your products are easy to find, easy to buy, and that your website entices your visitors into not leaving without giving you some way of getting in contact with them once they have left. Enticement items can be used for remarketing, to build your database or to mine abandoned baskets, so don’t neglect this aspect.
2. Competitive prices and a large range of quality products
As in retail, if you come to an online shop and most products show ‘out of stock’ or you have a very limited range of products, it will almost always be a negative online shopping experience. The Effective Measure Report measured that 47.5% of online shoppers would increase their spend on a website if they have more quality products to offer, and 60.5% of the shoppers are very price sensitive, so if you stock great products at competitive prices you will dramatically increase your chances of taking a bigger chunk of the market. Lastly, ensure you have great product descriptions and quality product images, as these are two factors that increase the perception of quality when it comes to online shopping.
3. Frequent marketing campaigns
Whether it’s ignorance or stubbornness, many businesses are unwilling to spend money on marketing and advertising, but you cannot build a shop and magically expect people to find your store and start buying your products. You need to have a great marketing strategy that covers both on site campaigns as well as external drives to pull people to your site. The Effective Measures Report measured that 16.3% of online shoppers buy online at least once a month, and 17.5% at least once every 3 months. This shows that you should have promotions and campaigns at least once a month, and at the very least once a quarter.
4. Quick delivery and professional packaging
Two elements we’ve noticed time and time again is that quicker delivery times and seamless returns has a massive impact on online shop sales. Amazon.com is a trend setter in delivery and logistics as they are always looking at ways to improve their turnaround times. They have set up warehouses across the globe and are even starting to predict your buying behaviour based on browsing, and then loading your “predictive parcel” in a locker ready for shipping once you hit the ‘Buy Now’ button. They do all this because they understand the importance of quicker delivery times for their customers.
Furthermore it needs to be as easy to return a product as it is to buy it. Being able to return products easily is essential when incorrect items are delivered or if the item is broken and so on, it also gives consumers the confidence to buy items such as clothing and shoes without having to try them on first. Lastly, the Effective Measure Report noticed that 13.21% of online shoppers will increase their spend with you if you have quality packaging for your products. Quality packaging improves the experience of online shopping for the consumer as it is the only point of physical interaction with the brand. Yuppiechef understands this principle and their packaging has a personal touch with each delivery getting its own handwritten note.
5. More payment options and security
It is quite obvious but worth mentioning anyway – if you have various methods for clients to pay, your sales will increase. This is a trend that follows traditional retail where you can buy cash, swipe your card, make an EFT or get it on credit through a personal loan. Online shopping has had limited options in the past when it comes to payment, but voucher shopping and prepaid cards have become increasingly popular. Merchants like PayPal offer safe ways to buy while protecting your credit card details.
A creative new player is Creditcart.co.za, a division of popular personal loans company Direct Axis. It has been integrating with numerous online shops to offer credit for online purchases. Lastly, ensure that you display prominent messaging around the safety of buying on your site, as well as protecting the customer’s privacy. This is not only for the benefit of the customer, it’s also beneficial from a legal perspective to protect your own business.
If you have these five elements you should be in a good position to increase your sales in an increasingly competitive market but also a growing market. You don’t always have to be the best at everything you do, but you always need to know what the best are doing so you can devise your counter strategies. Good luck and happy selling!