The Real Estate of eCommerce in South Africa: What You Need to Know

So, you’ve got a product or service that you want to sell online, but you don’t know where to begin? Let’s face it; anybody involved in retail knows there are many challenges to staying successful and competitive. Besides finances and marketing, the biggest challenge is eCommerce.

Advancements in telecommunications have aided in the success of eCommerce and the increased levels of competition between merchants to sell the best quality goods at the lowest price. Although brick-and-mortar retail is steady, it’s hard to deny that South Africans love online purchases.

49% of South Africans visit an online retail store, 47% search online for a product or service to buy, and 29% make online purchases. (We Are Social).

eCommerce is a giant industry—and South Africans are spending more online than ever before. With disruptive technology taking a firm grip—from smartphones to the rise of the digitally influenced shopper and showrooming, consumers are now demanding a more convenient, seamless customer-centric shopping experience. Online shopping gives them just that—and more.

Online shopping is the future of retail.

The Internet is changing the way we live—and eCommerce is now a way of life. An industry poised for growth as digital natives make up an increasingly large portion of consumers—it’s predicted by Statista that there will be 1.92 billion global digital buyers in 2019 and that global retail eCommerce revenue will amount to $4.88 trillion by 2021. Online shopping is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, including South Africa.

Recent research on South Africa shows people are browsing three hours or more a day on their mobile phones, and by 2021, the number of online shoppers expects to have reached 24.79 million. eCommerce is growing at a rapid pace—and everyone wants a piece of the eCommerce pie.

South Africa’s eCommerce market is worth over R20-billion, and research by PayPal and Ipsos forecasts that South Africans will spend R61 billion at online stores by 2020.

Why do consumers prefer to shop online?

While traditional stores still dominate the market, eCommerce is fast catching up. A customer can make a purchase anytime and anywhere. They can compare reviews and have the instant gratification of buying something just at a tap of a screen. Safe and easy payment options are available—and delivery is always on time—and sometimes even free.

Because of the zero overheads that physical stores demand—sellers can offer competitive prices, discounts, scorecards and loads of exciting incentive programs. As you can imagine, bargain hunters and deal seekers find online shopping a dream come true.

An eCommerce store can save you money.

eCommerce doesn’t just provide benefits to consumers—it is a holy grail for retailers. Running an eCommerce store can save you money. Brick-and-mortar thrive on location and branding—and this can be key to your new revenue.

Millions of people use search engines every day to find products they want to buy. With eCommerce, you overcome geographical limitations, and you gain new customers with Search Engine Visibility. With a physical store, it is tough reaching such a large market. However, an online store can easily accomplish this.

Your overheads are almost zero. An online store provides features that automate responsibilities and create targeted communication, allowing you the time to do other things and reduce the operating costs of your entire business. With such convenience to both the customer and the retailer, it’s no surprise eCommerce is on the rise.

How to cash in on the eCommerce revolution

2018 was a lucrative year for the South African eCommerce industry. Thanks to high mobile penetration, secure payment options, and changing spending habits, growth is strong. But as more outlets and competition increase, expectations become more refined. That is why retailers need to stay ahead of the trends.

Trends in the eCommerce industry emerge from various things.
How customers shop. What they buy and how they respond to marketing tactics used by businesses. If you want to get ahead of the game, here are three trends to jump on immediately.

1. Multi-Channel Selling

Online businesses cannot stay on one platform if they want to get ahead of the competition. That is where multi-channel marketing enters. Multi-channel marketing involves promoting and selling on every channel where customers spend their time—from social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to search engines, blogs, newsletters, SMS text messaging, and even good old-fashioned mail.

With 87% of eCommerce shoppers making a purchase decision based on social media marketing – it’s worth staying on trend with multi-channel selling.

2. Artificial Intelligence Chatbot

Customer patterns based on browsing history are a challenge for online stores, but we now hail intelligent algorithms as the key to dealing with such challenges. AI chatbots are computer programs that can understand a customer’s questions and provide human-like responses about products and services. Unlike humans, they deal with unlimited customer enquiries at once and operate at all hours of the day.

The other advantage of a chatbot is that it generates sales. It can do this by sending automated prompts to get users chatting about a product that interests them. It can also offer them discounts or even make personalised recommendations based on their session data.

3. Personalisation and Seamless Customer Engagement

The success of any business depends on customer satisfaction. The customer wants brands whose values they can identify with; websites that load quickly, are easy to navigate and work on any device; and purchasing processes that are simple, secure and fast.

That led to marketing automation, which focuses on customised landing pages, easy to access shopping carts, personalised emails, displaying new products and promotions as per the visitors’ shopping history, and re-targeting customers for necessary product sales.

Framing business landscapes, eCommerce brings with it many advantages, especially for start-ups and medium-sized enterprises. However, as consumers continue to drive the market with their seamless shopping demands, you need to realise that you’re not just competing against local competitors but also the most cutting edge, slickest and fastest websites and apps that exist globally.

That means you need to invest in your website experience.

The Importance of Newsletters in Business and Why All Businesses Need It

63% of marketers consider generating traffic and leads and measuring ROI as some of their biggest challenges.

So what’s the problem?

Before the 21st century, business was fairly straightforward: if you had the budget, you invested in some advertising space. But in an age of saturated markets, limited funds, fly-by-night marketing trends, and millennials who would rather sit in their pj’s and hunt for bargains online, things have gotten a lot more challenging.
If you want to survive, you need to do more than just provide a good service or product

Simply put: with marketers no longer in the driver’s seat and with consumers calling the shots – marketing is no longer just about selling. Marketing is all about how you sell. To thrive and survive, you need to ensure you’re meeting the needs of your target market or get left behind.

Less about transactions and increasingly about the consumer relationship – marketing has become more customer-centric than ever before. You can invest in a fancy, informative website, a blog with SEO, and even print media advertising, but if you’re not constantly making an effort to connect with your target market—reminding them that you exist and that you care—you’re basically handing sales over to your competitors!

Marketing is about who shouts the loudest

Marketing is all about who shouts the loudest, and if you’re struggling to keep your head above water, it’s time to be innovative. You could choose to “WOW” your audience the digital route or you could stick to the traditional method of print – but are these methods enough to attract traffic and will they fall within your marketing budget? Probably not!

Now… if you had a weekly or monthly newsletter, you can, not only overcome the above problems but reap the rewards of many other invaluable marketing benefits.

Your competitors are using newsletters to grow. They are growing. Are you?

83% of marketers use newsletters as a marketing tool!

As one of the oldest forms of marketing, used by many successful businesses, newsletters are a cost-effective solution that gives you the power to reach customers in a place people visit every day—their Inbox.

Newsletters are a slick, efficient way to connect with customers
One in five consumers read every newsletter they receive just to see if something’s on offer!

You only need one sale to make a lifelong loyal connection—but you have to put in the effort. Your customers want a connection with you. They want to know you care about their needs and sending a newsletter regularly offers you a way of communicating with them, cross-selling other related products and adding value through promotions, trends, tips, and news they actually want to read. By constantly sharing relevant content, you’ll be able to stay top-of-mind and build credibility. An email newsletter increases your exposure and might just lead to that next big sale!

Newsletters guarantee a wider reach

83% of consumers say email is one of their preferred methods of brand communication!

Newsletters are one of the most popular forms of communication, and by sending marketing materials to an email address, you’re almost guaranteed that your audience will read them. Plus, with nearly two-thirds of all emails opened on a mobile device, newsletters are one of the best tools you can use to take advantage of the growing popularity of mobile technology. And you can also share your newsletters on your social media platforms!

Newsletters drive traffic to your website

75% of internet users make use only on the first page of Google result!

Your newsletter will most definitely include links back to your website, improving your search engine presence. Search engine optimization involves making your website visible on Google and the other search engines so that potentials can find you when looking for a product or service you offer. With 40,000 searches every second and with 3.5 billion searches each day – there are millions of opportunities for someone to find your business on search engines through the links in your newsletter!

Newsletters are inexpensive and offer a staggering ROI
75% of marketers say newsletters offer an “excellent” ROI!
One of the most obvious benefits of newsletters is its lower cost compared to mainstream marketing channels. Newsletters are almost 40 times better at winning over new customers than Facebook and Twitter, with the only investment being time spent on the newsletter design.

Creating a newsletter is easier than you think

Like all facets of your business, time is money. Luckily, there are many software alternatives to MailChimp that can design a newsletter in advance and send it out automatically. Not only do these newsletter management apps provide great looking templates, but you can even customise them for your readers.

It also lets you keep track of which newsletters are generating the most opens and clicks. Simple to follow, a newsletter app can show how your newsletter is performing—and what still needs improvement. These insights help you market smarter and also gives you the benefit of better understanding the needs of your target market, increasing traffic and boosting sales.

Whether you’re peddling products, services or information—you can’t afford to ignore a tool as valuable as newsletters. A reliable newsletter program with loyal followers is an essential marketing asset for any business.

• Nurtures and generates better leads
• Saves time and money
• Tweaks strategies to maximize results
• Easy to use—even for people who are not tech-savvy
• Makes pre-scheduling social media posts easy & effective

Start Your Success Story with Paarl Web Design

Bringing brands to life, we offer a marketing opportunity for businesses looking to expand or for small startups just getting started. Pairing strategic marketing tools with intelligent design solutions to help brands stand out and increase traffic – not only will we help you learn the tools you need to survive in today’s competitive world, but we will help with your newsletters. So don’t hesitate, get in touch today!

4 Powerful Ways Live Chat Can Positively Impact Your Business

You do not have to be a marketing guru to know that excellent customer service is vital for business success. Your customers want things now—and they usually get it. But this is not the case for customer service. Most people do not have time to call in and wait for an answer. Sure, email is a great option, but response times take longer than 12 hours. And delays like this will send your customers running into the arms of your competitors.

So, how can you respond quickly to your customers?
It is simple. Use live chat.

One of the most important benefits of live chat is that it allows you to talk directly to your customers in real-time (pretty much what it says on the box)—but there is so much more to live chat than providing quick customer support. Live chat is a must-have tool for your business, and this blog post will cover why that is. We have put together a list of how live chat can positively impact your business.

Increase Sales!

Research shows websites with chat support report a 19% increase in revenue and 38% in conversions. The same study shows that customers that use live chat are three times more likely to make purchases versus those who do not.

While traditional lead generation methods usually target only certain parts of the sales funnel, live chat generates leads throughout the customer journey. When browsing your website, prospects will have questions about your product or service and live chat gives you the chance to hold your buyers by the hand, from market awareness and pre-sales to post-sales support and customer retention.

17% cheaper than a phone call, live chat is like having a sales assistant on standby. You can answer back immediately without having to spend money on costly telephone calls and long emails that may be too late. Live chat will help you turn website visitors into qualified leads.

Availability builds trust!

63% of consumers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat. Why? Because responding faster = more leads. Consumers are naturally dubious about buying things online. It is human nature. But with live chat, you can have a direct conversation with your prospect, allowing you to give quick answers to questions about your products or services. It also helps you solve problems faster and assures your customers that you are there when they need you. That is a very effective recipe for improving customer service and building loyalty and trust.

As the chief currency between the business and its customer and as the secret sauce that can make customers leap, trust keeps customers coming back for more. Having a live chat on your website not only makes them happy but has a significant impact on their potential to convert. Without live chat, you will have to work harder to build trust with your website visitors.

Better customer satisfaction!

80% of businesses believe they offer superior customer service, but only 8% of customers think those same businesses deliver an exceptional service. The success of any business depends on one factor: customer satisfaction. With live chat come all kinds of valuable data about your customers. Not only does it allow you to engage in actual human conversation, but it allows you to flesh out your buyer persona to gain a deeper understanding of their needs, wants, and behaviour and pain points, transforming them into leads.

What better way to learn about your customers and your services and products than to talk to them? And customers love it just as much. At 73%, chat offers the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel.

Tracks your performance!

Live chat doesn’t just positively impact sales, support service and customer satisfaction. The benefits of live chat software are far-reaching. In the race to digitally transform, with businesses going paperless, live chat software supports that goal. And it also keeps track of your performance.

Rich with information, chat sessions allow you to harvest valuable data about the speed of your responses, helping you work toward service. With inbuilt analytics, chat software attracts visitors the moment they enter your website. It monitors sessions, conducts quality control, and gives you reports on usage, performance and customer satisfaction—all automatically and in real-time.

In addition, you get total visibility on the metrics that matter most. From engaging prospects in real-time, customising messages, shortening sales funnels, and improving lead nurturing to increasing sales, in today’s digital world, live chat is the best communication platform to offer a real-time prompt response to customers.

Live chat has the highest customer satisfaction levels, at 73% compared to 61% for email support and only 44% for traditional phone support. With 63% of consumers more likely to return to a website that offers live chat—can your business afford not to have it?

Set up a live chat NOW!

Customers are waiting on your site right now, and there are tons of live chat software available. You just need to find one that fits your needs, Clickdesk, Formilla, Olark and Livechatinc.