South Africa’s online spend to top $4.2 billion in 2018 (and why shoppers are happy to order from abroad)
South Africa is undergoing a shopping revolution online with millions turning to the internet when making a purchase – but more and more are happy to order from overseas, according to a new report.
Home-grown sellers like Takealot and Superbalist are growing fast and Bid or Buy is doing for African’s what eBay has achieved in Europe and the USA.
According to the PayPal and Ipsos third annual cross-border commerce report, South Africa’s online spend is forecast to grow to over ZAR53 billion ($4.2bn) by 2018.
And more and more South African’s are ordering online from overseas: In 2016, 43 per cent of adults in South Africa shopped cross-border. The US is the most popular cross-border online shopping destination for South African online shoppers, followed by China and the UK.
“It is essential that e-commerce business owners address the entire value chain of the online shopping process to make sure that they cater to their customers’ needs and deliver on their expectations,” says Mike Higley, FedEx Express Southern Africa Operations Vice President.”
“Businesses that manage to combine innovative products and services with a seamless online experience and quality customer care, will be the ones who attract and retain their online customers,” Higley adds.
Customer service, customer experience and price are the three main ways for e-commerce retailers to distinguish themselves from the competition.
In Seizing the Cross-Border Opportunity a study commissioned on behalf of FedEx, Forrester Consulting surveyed online merchants and thousands of online consumers across 17 countries and markets to understand their concerns, their priorities, and what smart SMEs are doing to bridge that gap and remain competitive.
Below are some of the key research findings presented to day by www.biznisafrica highlighting best practices for cross-border businesses in the digital age.
- Understand your customer
Many of the merchants Forrester Consulting surveyed initiated global exporting without a solid strategy. The companies only became a global company after international customers came to them through search engines or online adverts and placed orders. It is important that a business knows and understands who is buying their products in order to cater to the consumers needs.
Broadly speaking, online shopping behaviors are similar all over the world, but paying attention to those regional nuances can help a business understand their customers better.
- Highlight what makes your products special
The differentiator for any business from its competitors is that no other company is quite like yours. Think about what you are offering or bringing to the table. Is there something you can offer that nobody else can? Use this as your selling point to customers.
More and more consumers are using their computers and smartphones to find goods that aren’t available where they live. For instance, 68 per cent of respondents in Europe, the Middle East and Africa considered uniqueness to be influential or very influential when it came time to clicking buy.
- Put global consumers at ease
One major hurdle for SMEs is that most cross-border shoppers prefer multi-brand retailers or marketplaces. In fact, in a survey asking consumers to rank preferred online shopping destinations for foreign goods, small or medium-size independent retailers were rated fourth out of five. In order to leverage the multi-brand marketplaces for your business, SMEs should consider selling their goods through a popular selling platform. Basically your homegrown venture can build off another company’s global reach, language, localisation and country-focused marketing. Skittish shoppers get buyer protection, and on-site customer reviews provide an unbiased demonstration of just how good your goods are.
- Build your brand on excellent service
Besides your reputation, logistics are key for many cross-border consumers. Key deciding factors for choosing a particular store included delivery times, package tracking as well as a simple return or exchange process.
Many of the successful merchants from the study worked closely with at least one major global logistics provider which provided guidance and assistance. This approach allowed businesses to easily offer those all-important add-ons like guaranteed delivery. However, the top merchants made life easier for business owners, offering services like calculating taxes and duties, paperwork support, and streamlining cross-border returns.