In South Africa, e-commerce grew by a whopping 66% in 2020 as Covid-wary consumers decided to ditch physical shopping and turned to the internet for their shopping needs. (in this article, we lists popular products driving ecommerce growth in South Africa).
Not only this, a study by World Wide Worx shows that global online sales topped R30-billion – some 50% higher than what was projected by analysts.
The e-commerce explosion also saw the coming-of-age of the online marketplace, along with a growing number of mobile payment services across the African continent.
The unprecedented circumstances triggered by the pandemic were tailor-made for platforms where vendors and consumers could be brought together, and where users could make orders and payments without leaving the system.
Bidorbuy CEO Craig Lubbe unpacks trends online shoppers have placed high on their list, with convenience, choice, value for money and seamless ecommerce experience becoming some of the key factors.
Ecommerce opportunities South African etailers cannot afford to ignore
Artificial intelligence-driven personalised recommendations are becoming huge in the ecommerce space.
Not only do these suit the needs and tastes of a particular customer, but they also allow the marketplace to help grow loyalty to its sellers’ brands. It also goes without saying that by employing machine learning and data analytics, the platform is able to offer customers more of the items they want.
According to research by global consulting giant McKinsey, brands that excel at personalisation deliver five to eight times the marketing return on investment. Some of the brands that understood this all too well is Levi’s, which already used AI-enabled chatbots to assist customers find the perfect fit. This technology is able to learn about customers’ fashion preference and size requirements.
Another big innovation in the ecommerce industry is what is called ‘Social commerce’, which grew as more people long for social interaction and entertainment. As the result, they turned to ecommerce platforms that offer more than your standard select-click-pay process.
According to the Wall Street Journal, sellers and brands can further engage consumers by making associations with influencers and blending content into social posts, livestreams and videos.
And because friends often share the same interests, the platform essentially becomes a “meeting place” where they can shop, be entertained and chat to one another.
Something South Africans are starting to see more of, in the ecommerce space and beyond, are chatbots. This technology is set to become standard in the months and years ahead.
Chatbots essentially act in the same way as in-store sales assistants, an essential requirement when so much trade is being conducted online.
“Chatbots are all the rage today for customer support,” says Shane Barker, the founder and CEO of e-commerce thought leader blog. “They’ll become one of the most important marketing tools.”
Chatbots will become even more personalised as analytics technology improves. No longer will there be standard-issue responses, but assistance that is highly focused on individual needs.
A crucial part of the ecommerce experience going forward will be the variety of payment options offered. Particularly with this rise of mobile, more payment options mean bigger conversion rates. And when details of payment information are saved onto the platform, it creates greater convenience for consumers since they will be able to check out faster.
Platforms are also able to tailor delivery options to the needs of a specific country. Bidorbuy, for example, enjoys a partnership with Pargo, a smart last-mile logistics service for e-tailers, banks, telecommunications operators and others that offers what is termed Click & Collect.
Click & Collect is an alternative delivery method whereby online shopping is delivered to the customer’s choice of pickup point instead of a door delivery address. Today, there are more than 3,000 Pargo Pickup Points at popular retail chains like Clicks, FreshStop at Caltex, Lewis stores and others nationwide, from major cities and business districts to rural areas and townships.
As ecommerce continues to evolve, the importance of videos cannot be understated, since they can help showcase products better than still images ever can.
Video accounts for a huge amount of social media traffic, so it’s safe to say it would grab attention when it comes to online sales as well.