Getting the Basics of eCommerce Right

We attended the Connect eCommerce Summit where major players in the South African eCommerce field shared their industry expertise, insights and knowledge. 

Speaker topics ranged from Designing your next Dollar, Building a Profitable eCommerce Business, The Future of Digital eCommerce in Africa as well as whether eCommerce in South Africa will replace traditional retail. Throughout all these intriguing presentations four main themes emerged for a successful eCommerce business. 

Traditional retail is not dead, it’s simply evolving 

There is a perception that online is killing offline. However, South Africa still has a huge shopping mall culture, coming only second to the United States with the highest number of malls per capita.

“It is no longer a matter of online versus offline, but rather online and offline,” said Deloitte Senior Manager Dylan Piatti in his presentation on the Future of Digital Commerce in Africa. 

Retail allows for different experiences and integrating eCommerce vertically into your business plan is the best way forward. As an entrepreneur, it is vital to find different ways of providing customers with personalised shopping experiences online and in retail outlets. 

Some examples of vertical retail and eCommerce integration include

  • Click and Collect: a customer can order their products online and collect from the store. 
  • Showrooms: customers can view, test and get advice from experts and then order online. 

Build online trust 

Trust in eCommerce is still a purchase consideration, if the customer does not feel safe purchasing products on your website, then they will find a competitor who seems more trustworthy.  

How to ensure that your site is eCommerce trustworthy 

  • Ensure that your website is SSL certified 
  • Offer various methods of fast and secure payment 
  • Have a returns policy 
  • Contact details should be easily accessible 
  • Place security seals on products
  • Offer delivery tracking via reputable couriers

Logistics – cost, time and communication

Offering cheap or free delivery can increase your purchase rate. Some online stores offer free delivery for purchases over a certain price, some include the delivery fee in the price of the product (bear in mind that this increases the cost of your product) and some online stores have a set delivery fee. 

It’s important to test what works for your business and your customer as well as whether you are selling locally or internationally. 

Smooth delivery can make or break the customer experience. Partner with the right delivery service based on the size of your product, type of product (fragile or robust), the weight and the location you are shipping to. 

Methods of delivery that you can look into include

  • Courier companies
  • Warehouse outsourcing 
  • uAfrica 

Always be sure to manage customer expectations. Customers don’t mind if something goes wrong but keep them updated on their delivery time. 

If you are selling cross-border ensure that you are aware of local regulations, especially with regards to health products, pharmaceutical, CBD or hemp products. 

Marketing is key

You may have the perfect online product, the right delivery method at the right price for the customer and you have found a way to personalise your service, but discoverability is still key to success. 

Marketing tips 

  • Understand who your customer is and serve targeted content within each phase of the purchase funnel.  
  • Know which platforms your customer uses.
  • Make use of seasonal buying; black Friday, summer sales, etc. 
  • Integrate the customer’s shopping experience through omni-channel online marketing; Google Ads (70% of budget), social media (30% of budget), remarketing and email marketing. 
  • Ensure that your website is fast, search engine friendly and targeted towards user intent.  
  • Ensure that your eCommerce store is mobile-first. 
  • Show customer appreciation through offering discounts or promotions – it is seven times more expensive to get new customers than it is to retain existing customers. 

In conclusion 

The way to succeed in eCommerce is to integrate online and offline, build brand trust, manage customer expectations and market your product. 

At Semantica we have a strong web development background in e-commerce solutions on various open-source and proprietary platforms. We have also developed several custom e-commerce websites, some of which handle thousands of products and transactions. 

Contact us for eCommerce expertise and services. 

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