When it comes to online retail, the slow and laboured adoption of e-commerce in South Africa means brick and mortar very much remains the king of commerce, but those ready to embrace the fourth industrial revolution have a unique opportunity and advantage; they just don’t know it yet.
With over 70% of the country’s population connected to the internet and 96% of those primarily accessing the web from their mobile phones and tablets, some 40 million+ tech-savvy South African consumers are more ready and willing to embrace digital than they are given credit for.
However, the fact that online make-up less than 2% of South Africa’s total retail market shows how local businesses have missed the mark when understanding what kind of experience is expected by the majority of the nation, especially when it comes to this time of year, with Black Friday (November 29) marking the start of the holiday spending frenzy.
When compared to the likes of the USA, UK and China, whose online retail comprises up to 17% market share of a $3.5 trillion industry, the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear for South Africa’s lagging retail players.
However, despite the market statistics and consumer demand, local businesses remain hesitant to commit to digital and bemoan either the costs associated with developing an e-commerce platform in South Africa, or voice concerns over a potential lack of profitability.
Tell that to the likes of Yuppiechef, Zando, Bid or Buy or, most notably, Takealot, who alone rake in R9 billion in annual revenue and who have embraced and, subsequently dominated, online retail in South Africa since the launch of Takealot.com in 2011. Meanwhile, global online monolith Amazon continues to set the benchmark for what is achievable in the digital retail space, having quintupled sales over the last decade alone.
So what, exactly, is impeding the South African retail industry’s long-awaited march towards a digital tomorrow so assuredly paved in gold?
From a technology perspective, the availability of effective and reliable open-source e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify means there is now more than enough choice to find a solution that best suits your own specific business needs and goals, without the need for an expensive bespoke software solution.
The exponential advancements of both e-commerce technologies and the software developers who implement them also mean getting an online store up and running no longer has to equate to long, lumbering project hours which devastate budgets and delay the ultimate goal of the project: growth.
Even more, the bridge between website and mobile app has never been shorter or easier to traverse, with Progressive Web Apps offering a never-before-imagined efficiency and cost-saving approach to app development.
The ability, or potentially lack thereof, to reliably fulfil orders has also previously been a cause for concern when entering the e-commerce arena, but with the rise of Drop Shipping (where a retailer does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers the customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer, another retailer, or a wholesaler) that is yet another road that has been paved significantly smoother.
Perhaps, then, one of the bigger barriers to entry for SA’s retail revolution is the ability for businesses to find a trusted and capable digital partner in amongst the smoke and mirrors that are so often associated with software development.
For Realm Digital, our approach has been carefully crafted over 20 years and has delivered every time. From building a detailed, focused and evolving digital roadmap, to the flawless execution of strategy and specifications, Realm’s long and shining history in South African e-commerce has seen them set the benchmark for online success in South Africa, which presents a tantalising opportunity for the country’s up-and-coming online retail players.
Do not get left behind. We’d love to connect with you to discuss the endless possibilities for you and your business. Let’s connect over a coffee. Schedule an appointment with one of our consultants to see how e-commerce can elevate your online business by emailing email@example.com.