South African shoppers are online (30.5 million e-commerce users were accounted for in South Africa in 2019, 68% of which are said to be now shopping more online since COVID-19 according to Mastercard report). E-tailers, a web design expert argues, need to meet them with a seamless e-commerce experience – from the right visual aesthetic of your products to AI-powered personalization and fully enabled AR experience, you name it.
“The Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedly accelerated prevailing trends as well as consumer behaviour and preferences by as much as a decade. This extraordinary industry-wide transformation is a forecast of the future of South African retail,” says Geoff Hardy, head of digital at Immersion Group, a global team of experience design experts.
A solid digital footprint and strategy have become non-negotiable as was made clear by the recent acquisition of Yuppiechef by the Mr Price Group. “The deal demonstrates a definite push towards developing a solid online presence that meets the demands of discerning consumers who expect a seamless end-to-end digital experience.”
In the drive towards implementing sustainable digital strategies, retailers need to consider the quality of the entire shopper journey from beginning to end. “User Experience or UX is of course most commonly associated with a final digital product, but our position is its’ actually a journey that begins well before a product, app or website reaches the consumer, and indeed before a shopper even steps foot into a physical store,” says Hardy.
He adds that digital tech will increasingly become more integrated with traditional so-called offline experiences. “Former IBM CEO Thomas Watson Jr. famously declared that ‘good design is good business.’ This proves to be true time and time again as research shows design-driven companies have a competitive advantage over their counterparts.
Consumer facing organisations should weave good design principles into everything they do – from research, and strategy to products and service. This involves thinking beyond transaction and focusing on creating beautiful experiences that build lasting and meaningful relationships with customers.”
Hardy says that developing a long-term digital footprint and strategy should be informed design-led thinking as it acts as a framework for real innovation. “Evaluating every aspect of the customer journey, from top to bottom, puts the customer at the front and centre of the overall experience. Just as shoppers can simply switch websites, so too might they choose a competitor should the in-store experience prove frustrating and badly designed.”
(For insights on top selling products driving SA’s ecommerce growth, click here).
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