Tag: online

By Nomzamo Radebe, CEO of Excellerate JHI

There can be no doubt that digital processes and technology will underpin future retail, but what does this really mean for local brands and companies? Arguably, the first step towards future-proofing retail is to understand what the customer of the future looks like.

Today, with endless information at their fingertips, consumers are well informed, demanding, and in a rush. And while many ‘gurus’ have foretold the death of the brick and mortar store, consumers continue to go to malls for both shopping and entertainment. Essentially, retailers and property development partners have to balance out contradictory messages and trends: are they preparing for a digitally driven environment with e-commerce at the centre? Or must retailers find a way to merge hyper-connected, digital habits with physical shopping experiences?

Seamlessly connected, 24/7

As of 2017, there were 3.4 billion global Internet users, which equates to 46% of the population, according to Euromonitor. By 2022, that figure will reach 58%. Along with more people becoming connected, more ‘things’ will become connected – with devices of all kinds constantly generating and sharing data. Yes, this is the Internet of Things (IoT), which will become fundamental to individual lives and purchasing habits. In homes, connected fridges will automatically send notifications when certain things are running low – and may even send a grocery list directly to the owner’s device.

For retailers, the rise of the Internet of Things and overall hyper connectivity means that consumers will be very specific in what they are looking for – and will demand that the retail experience deliver on their needs both seamlessly and instantaneously. Retailers will have to harness technology, including IoT, to create a ‘friction-free’ environment. For instance, the use of chatbots can make sure that when consumers are online they receive immediate and data-driven feedback or help.

Embracing cash-free living

With the enormous popularity of cash-free or cashless services such as Uber and Lyft, even credit and debit cards are beginning to look obsolete. Already, some analysts are forecasting the shift towards an entirely cashless society – and consumers are increasingly demonstrating their keenness to ditch cash. In South Africa, many are already leaving their wallets at home as smartphones become the new [digital] wallet. According to a study by PayPal, 85% of respondents used their mobile phones to make a purchase in 2017, and 46% said being able to shop on their mobile phones has made them buy more. Tellingly, the majority of South Africans would rather leave home without their wallets than leave home without their beloved device.

Conscious living, conscious shopping

With dramatic climate change now firmly on the global agenda, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental impact – which includes their shopping habits. According to research firm J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, ‘consumers expect brands to be sustainable and are willing to pay more to support those that are.’ In a 2018 study titled New Sustainability, the firm stated that 89% of those surveyed ‘care personally’ about protecting the planet; 92% said they are trying to live more sustainably, while 83% would always pick the brand that has a better record of sustainability.

With digital transformation now becoming a global business imperative, local retailers will have to ensure that their digital strategies closely reflect the evolving needs – and values – of their customers.

The true cost of customers’ online experiences

By Charlie Stewart for Roger Wilco

By 2021, over 20-million South Africans will shop online. This is a third of the country’s population. But, while the commercial opportunity is obvious – currently eCommerce accounts for R14-billion of the total retail pie, or 1,4% – local brands aren’t taking full advantage. So reveals The Cost of Online CX: A R34-billion Opportunity, 2019 South African Digital Customer Experience Report. Commissioned by performance marketing agency, Rogerwilco, it was released today.

Among key findings the study found that 71% of South African online shoppers abandon a purchase at the digital tillpoint. The commercial cost of this for local e-marketers is staggering accounting for a loss of around R34-billion* worth of goods per annum.

So what’s going wrong? According to online South Africans, payment failure is a big issue (57%), while site speed (38%), being unable to find what they are looking for (37%) and difficulty in navigating the site (27%) all impact the likelihood of an end sale.

“Brands are hell bent on brand building and client acquisition – at the detriment of conversion. I see brands throwing heaps of money to get people to their sites and then they spend less on creating an ideal environment when they get there. If they curb their acquisition budget and put it into the very fundamental elements to give it a better experience, they will convert more customers,” says Charlie Stewart, CEO of Rogerwilco.


Provide a helping hand – or bot

Customer service and support is also a big pain point, with over half of those surveyed saying that there is no-one to help them when they get stuck. “There needs to be an improved on-demand support for customers and also brands need to look at why customers need help to make online purchases in the first place – you shouldn’t need a support service if the experience works. What is failing in the customer journey that is causing customers to feel that they need support? This is a big red flag. Digital shouldn’t be a channel where you need customer service, it should be seamless self-service,” comments Julia Ahlfeldt, a Certified Customer Experience Professional.

Chatbots might well be the answer, although there are some misperceptions about what a chatbot is. “Businesses can address this by creating a persona that has some human traits which make it more relatable. Anything that can ease the journey is a good thing,” says Stewart. “Doing so can lead to a 30% saving in customer service costs. Furthermore, chatbots are bringing in the bacon; it is estimated that by 2023 retail sales via chatbots will account for $112-billion.”

Despite the commercial opportunity, bots aren’t every brand’s best friend, yet. “A percentage of our Customer Service queries can be solved using AI, but the majority can’t – highly personalised recommendations are an important part of our offering. Over time we intend to build a repository of information that will enable AI chatbots to deliver at a similar standard, but this is years away. Will a chatbot be able to talk a customer through the essentials for a summit of Kilimanjaro; it will take time before it can really understand customer needs,” comments Cape Union Mart’s Kia Abbott.

Better experiences = better returns

When brands do get it right, 44,5% of consumers report that they’ll spend more online. This also increases in relation to higher incomes; almost 60% of those who earn over R30 000 a month said they will buy more from a brand if the online experience is a good one.

“We consistently see that customers who have a seamless experience on our platform spend more money with us, so it makes clear commercial sense to continue to identify and remove points of friction. This can be as simple as enabling buyers to set up alerts so they are notified as soon as a product they’re looking for becomes available and having automated prompts that guide advertisers on how to categorise their products with tools that rate the quality of the images that accompany their ads,” comments Gumtree’s digital marketing manager Michael Walker.

Up against the best in the world

Notwithstanding site speed, good navigation and customer support, local brands are also being compared to international giants like Uber and Amazon, whose apps often sit side-by-side local brands. “Look at anyone’s mobile phone screen and it’s likely you’ll see local and international brands’ apps sitting side by side,” says ovatoyou’s Amanda Reekie. “Consumers dip in and out of these brands all day long, switching from Uber to News24 or Netflix to Takealot in milliseconds. And they expect a seamless experience across all of their apps; there is no differentiation in their minds between South African and global brands – they all need to work as well as each other.”

To overcome this brands must invest more in their apps’ usability to make sure that the experience is intuitive and not only be as good as their nearest competitor but as good as Uber.

Face to face

While banking online or via an app is the most common reason why consumers are online in the first place, with 85% of the sample reporting they use the platform for this reason, not everything can be fulfilled online; consumers still want a degree of physical contact, especially with financial services.

“When considering our customer journey, across income groups, consumers prefer to engage with us through human-manned channels. They’re comfortable with searching for information in the first part of their journey, when looking for options to meet their needs, however when they get to the buying phase they seem to be hesitant to make that in a digital environment and they want to fulfil the buying decision in a human environment, such as a call centre or face to face. This is a nuance of financial services as people tend to like human touch points,” comments a CX expert from a leading insurance provider.

Reinforcing this preference for a human over machine, 37% of those surveyed said it’s easier to go into a store or a bank branch.

Vicious venting

If customers don’t get what they want online, they are very quick to bad mouth a brand: a whopping 99% of consumers said they would tell friends and family about their ordeals. “In a world where people rely more and more on advice and recommendations from friends and family – and that then influences them as to where they spend their money – these experiences are more powerful than above the line marketing; you believe your friend over an ad. For existing brands, if there are negative experiences out there it just piles onto the brand. People still talk about experiences that happened years ago; it’s hurting you today and will hurt you tomorrow. On the other hand, those that had a good experience leads to a repurchase (44,5%). I think that if brands can look at this and understand this, that if I deliver a good experience, then 44% will spend more and recommend to friends and family, what is the knock-on effect of this? Bad experiences are the silent killer; you don’t feel the pain until it’s too late,” says Ahlfeldt.

Getting it right

While there are no quick fixes, brands that have online platforms, can and should address common consumer challenges. “Given the rate at which South Africans are coming online and using the digital platform to engage with and buy from brands, businesses should be investing far more than the average 10 – 24% of their marketing budget on their sites, to prevent them throwing billions of Rands down the drain thanks to high incidences of shopping cart abandonment!
“Site speed, good UX, offering customer support and making sure products are available online are all relatively easy things that brands can do to improve their customers’ experience and which when implemented will significantly increase consumer loyalty, return visits and ultimately sales.”

According to IPG Mediabrands’ specialist digital agency Reprise, South Africa’s e-commerce industry, while still in its infancy, is showing strong growth thanks to high mobile penetration, secure payment options and changing spending habits.

Natasha Courtney, social media manager at Reprise South Africa says: “Currently only a quarter of South African retailers are spending through digital channels but with more of the population shifting their behaviour and budgets to online shopping, more retailers are making their products and services available online all the time.”

Women especially prefer interactive and easy-to-use options that allow them to share their shopping experiences with other users, and to get feedback and user ratings about the products or services they’re interested in purchasing. “Out of the 39% of women who are actively shopping online in South Africa, there was one predominant reason they enjoyed shopping this way – convenience,” says Courtney.

Digital shopping platform ThinkOver says that 89% of women will wait for an item to go on sale before purchasing. More than half of respondents (55%) said they continuously check a retailer’s website for sales while 58% monitor their inboxes for sale alerts. What’s more, 75% of women said they get upset when an item they wanted to buy went on sale and they weren’t aware of it.

When it comes to preferred payment terms, 54% of South African shoppers like to pay cash on delivery. When asked about debit card payments, 52% of consumers preferred this method – quite an even split. “Loyalty programmes are a big part of a woman’s shopping experience with the study finding that 80% percent of women belong to store loyalty programmes,” she says. “And we’re spending a lot of time online – the majority of female shoppers spend an average of an hour a day looking for great deals before we buy.”

For South African female consumers, the three most popular categories of online purchases are clothing, entertainment and education, and tickets for events. Over 75% of women stated that they go online and choose what they want to purchase before they go out, suggesting that most purchases are pre-meditated and not a spur of the moment decision.

“Pick n Pay’s integrated annual report for 2018 showed a 70% increase in its customers visiting their website from a mobile device since they launched their online grocery shop,” says Courtney. “But there are some down sides too – when purchasing clothing online, some women say that the clothing sizes are incorrect on delivery and the return policies and overall service turnaround times are the areas that need attention from retailers.

Poor user experience on websites is another deterrent to online shopping.

Mobile technology is transforming e-commerce in Africa, and consumers are actually more likely to have a mobile device than a bank account,” she says. “South Africans are also becoming more comfortable with mobile shopping due to, for example, easy-to-use apps for ordering car rides or food becoming more commonplace.”

This research shows that the online shopping industry is growing and is set to grow even more in the coming years. It is also clear that consumers will choose online payment partners they can trust, and that provide peace of mind that the security of their financial information will be a priority.

“For now, traditional shopping habits still dominate in South Africa but with almost half the population set to make an online purchase in the next year, it is clear that the ecommerce market has huge potential and will continue to grow year on year. It’s hugely exciting for retailers and consumers alike!”

The mall in 2029: imaging the future

Speaking at the recent South African Council of Shopping Centres Research Conference, Doris Viljoen – a senior futurist at the Institute for Futures Research based at Stellenbosch University – shared an imagined future for malls based on current retail trends.

With consumers moving from experiencing products in stores to ordering them online, smartphones and wearables play a big role in providing customised assistance while physical stores are already morphing into lively, immersive environments that rely on sensors to capture and analyse data in real time.

What is the next step? Presenting four different futures for the shopping mall, Viljoen’s work as a futurist often involves interpreting the history of retail – so what has happened until now – creating deeper layers of understanding, and then building a collection of plausible futures for consideration.

“It’s important to remember that people will still have an influence on the future that eventually unfolds. We cannot predict the future. We don’t know what is going to happen, but through the imagination of the different futures that could happen we can be prepared, and being prepared is more valuable than being right. All four of these futures could be wrong – but at least we then spend time thinking about what is possible,” she says.

Imagine a mall that recognises you the moment you walk through the door. As you enter the mall, your phone buzzes with a message from the mall, greeting you by name.

In this space, you are able to do anything with the smart device in your hand. If you see something you like, you can instantly get extra info about the product, where it comes from, pricing, and if you want to buy it, you can pay and arrange delivery from the palm of your hand.

Consumers can tag items they’re interested in, with notifications alerting them to the availability of these products in the mall, even guiding shoppers to their exact location – particularly useful for those instances where people still want to touch and feel before they buy.

Imagine meeting a friend for lunch at a restaurant and getting notified when she arrives, or even better, the restaurant using data smartly to predict what you want to order before you arrive.

Trends fuelling this scenario include consumers’ growing tendency to do their chore or convenience shopping online, saving their visits to the physical store for items they want to see and feel before buying. The growing use of facial recognition technology and customisation of both products and services have also contributed to the possibility that this could be the mall of the future – where people are able to directly influence their own shopping experience, creating useable data with each visit that retailers can effectively interpret thanks to machine learning analytics.

This may look like a normal mall, but some malls may start to empty, sitting with more and more vacancies as they struggle to fill the space. There is an opportunity here for developers to recreate these spaces into a gated community – where stores are repurposed and refitted into apartments, served by suitable retailers – think convenience and a place to socialise with friends and family.

In this future, Viljoen sees the rooftop parking converted into several green endeavours, including solar farms, running tracks and community gardens – building communities that thrive off the grid.

“And while this is a living space, there are still stores that provide food and personal services – so there is a lot of retailing and transacting is still taking place,” she says.

“South Africa is ranked sixth for the most shopping centres in the world, but urbanisation here is very rapid – in 2014 we had 34.2 million people living in urban areas, and by 2050 this figure will jump to 49.1 million. We need housing, and gated communities are becoming increasingly popular from a safety perspective, as well as the perceived value of going off the grid.”

Imagine a mall with a 2,000 seat auditorium for sports, where sport related retailers and activities become what the grocery anchors are now.

This mall consists of modular units that can easily move around, allowing retailers to continuously recreate the whole centre. Visitors might not be sure if it is a gym, adventure or a sports store. Here, they can eat a very healthy meal, or have personalised sports gear made specifically to fit them thanks to scans of their proportions.

This mall is built squarely on the concept of customisation, where experts are on hand to design programmes for you, while you have a new pair of running shoes 3D printed directly on your foot.

Connectivity, a major role-player in all four of these futures, will feature heavily here, but it is the rapid growth in the health and wellness industry that will bring this mall to life.

“People are looking for experiences, not things, so that they can share and post on social media.”

Here we’ll see a space filled with apprentices and trainees, from food and hair to graphic design and drafting – customers can go here and experience or buy from trainees.

This allows trainees to engage with real customers, while customers actively contribute to their learning while also benefiting from these services or products at a slightly cheaper rate.

“The population in sub-Saharan Africa has seen huge growth. There are a lot of people who need to be skilled, and people are living longer than ever before. In South Africa, our qualification status is also worrisome – only 13% of the people in South Africa have a post-school qualification. As business and the economy changes, we are going to need more and more people with qualifications, and for that, we need more places suitable to upskill the people we need,” she says.

Online shopping has become increasingly popular amongst South African consumers. Convenience, competitive pricing, and a wide choice of products make online purchasing a no-brainer for tech-savvy shoppers, but retailers need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to standing out against the competition.

Over the past year, a couple of popular South African retailers’ pricing has come under scrutiny where products were advertised as discounted from inflated list prices to give customers the perception of a bigger saving. In both cases, the advertising was ruled to be misleading. While unscrupulous practices like this may get consumers all riled up, the benefit of these kinds of cases being brought to the fore is that consumers have become more discerning when it comes to finding a bargain online.

Comparison tools and aggregator sites take the hard work out of shopping around and comparing prices. According to PriceCheck Founder, Kevin Tucker, comparison tools are just as important to retailers as they are to consumers. “Retailers are able to monitor price changes, price drops, promotions from competitors to allow them to stay relevant.” With more than two million visits each month, PriceCheck is South Africa’s number one product discovery and comparison platform.

Online purchasing behaviour indicates that consumers tend to go for trust over price point, particularly in the case of lesser known and international retailers. Consumers would rather pay a little bit extra at a reputable retailer than find a great bargain only to have to wait longer for delivery time, experience delays, or deal with poor customer service and a sketchy returns policy.

For this reason, comparison tools have become an invaluable tool for discerning shoppers, helping customers make informed decisions about their online purchases. Consumers love a good bargain, especially in tough economic times, and daily deals, sales and discounts create a sense of urgency and encourage impulse purchase behaviour. By listing retailers that offer a benefit to consumers, especially those that don’t have the financial backing of the big players in the e-commerce space, comparison tools add value to consumers while at the same time sending the listed retailers good quality traffic and qualified leads.

While building trust with consumers goes beyond fair and competitive product pricing, retailers need to consider the customer journey from start to finish. Tucker advises retailers to invest in online support through live chats or chatbots. “Real-time support can go a long way with consumers.”

He believes that providing as much information for the consumer to review is essential for retailers to maintain their credibility. “Delivery and returns policies, shop reviews, and payment methods all need to be clearly indicated to manage expectations and ensure that consumers are able to make the best buying decision possible.” he says.

By Wendy Knowler for Herald Live

Credit card fraud has been rapidly outpacing all other forms of bank fraud in recent months, with many older people being sweet-talked by fraudsters posing as bank officials into revealing their one-time-password (OTP) over the phone.

The Ombudsman for Banking Services, Reana Steyn, issued a warning about the alarming trend, revealing that 58% of the bank clients who complained about falling victim to credit card fraud in the past three months were older than 61 and 11% were older than 80.

“Not long ago credit card fraud was number five in our list of complaint categories, and now it’s number two, comprising 19,45% of all complaints,” Steyn said.

“That’s up from about 12% in December. At this rate it will soon overtake internet banking fraud to occupy the top spot.”

In a typical scenario, a bank client gets a call from a fraudster claiming to be phoning from their bank. In most cases, the fraudster already has the person’s credit card number.

The fraudster has gone onto an online shopping site – two of their favourites are Takealot and Foschini, Steyn said – and, poised to buy with victim’s credit card, they convince them that in order to help the bank prevent them from falling victim to fraud, they must please read out the OTP which has been sent to them via SMS.

The victim complies, and then the shopping begins.

The fraudsters also con people into believing that the bank will give them extra bank loyalty rewards points if they answer a few questions, Steyn said.

In the process of that Q&A, they’re asked for their OTP.

In one case, a fraudster asked a woman if she would like to convert her bank rewards points into cash. With that benefit in mind, she read out her OTP.

Alarmed at getting similar calls on the same day, she phoned her bank, but had already been defrauded of R11,200.

“Credit card fraud is a growing concern as banking systems increase in speed and efficiency,” Steyn said. “At the same time, fraudsters apply more sophisticated tactics to defraud and rob customers of their hard-earned money and savings.

“All bank customers, particularly the elderly, need to be knowledgeable and vigilant about their preferred banking channels.”

What not to do:

  • Never share personal and confidential information with strangers over the phone.
  • Banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information over the phone.
  • If you receive an OTP on your phone without having transacted yourself, it is likely that it is a fraudster who has used your personal information. Do not provide the OTP to anybody. Contact your bank immediately to alert them to the possibility that your information may have been compromised.

How to complain:

  • Lodge a formal, written complaint directly with your bank’s dispute resolution department.Ask for a complaint reference number from your bank.
  • Allow the bank 20 working days in which to respond to your complaint.
  • Obtain a written response from your bank and if you are not satisfied with the outcome, please log the complaint with the Ombudsman for Banking Services.

By Angelique Arde for Business Live

Absa is tight-lipped about its meeting this week with the banking regulator about how the bank handles cyber risks.

Johannesburg attorney Mark Heyink, acting for 29 Absa customers referred to him by a digital forensic expert and a computer scientist, claimed that the bank had “improperly” held clients liable for losses resulting from online banking fraud and called on the regulator to investigate Absa and the ombud for banking services.

Read more here: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bt/money/2019-01-20-regulator-talks-to-absa-about-bank—fraud-complaints/ 

Black Friday weekend in numbers

According to an article by Business Tech, online sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 exceeded figures for 2017.

BankservAfrica provided Business Tech with the following figures on one of the biggest shopping days of the year:

  • A total of 581 189 online transactions were processed over the weekend
  • 404 594 online transactions were recorded on Black Friday
  • The single most expensive transaction for Black Friday was over R6-million
  • The single most expensive transaction for Cyber Monday was R5-million
  • Black Friday shopping peaked between 08h00 and 09h00
  • Cyber Monday shopping peaked between 10h00 and 11h00
  • The average number of transactions per minute peaked at 695 on Black Friday
  • Transactions averaged at 281 per minute on Black Friday
  • The average number of transactions per minute peaked at 277 on Cyber Monday
  • Transactions averaged at 1251 per minute on Cyber Monday
  • Black Friday saw 55% year-on-year growth in online transactions
  • Cyber Monday transactions were up 36% year-on-year 

The United States, where the trend originated, also saw some big numbers:

  • Cyber Monday sales surged to a record $7.9-billion spent online
  • This is a year-on-year increase of 19.3%
  • Black Friday pulled in a record $6.22-billion in e-commerce sales
  • Transactions on mobile devices were up 55.6% on Cyber Monday, generating $2.2-billion in sales
  • Cyber Monday marked the biggest shopping day in Amazon’s history
  • Amazon Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined saw the purchase 18-million toys and more than 13-million fashion items

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

Takealot has confirmed that it will open a new customer centre in Johannesburg.

This follows a report by TechCentral that the online retailer was considering opening a new facility on the N1 highway in Midrand, situated on the New Road bridge.

A distribution centre at this location would cater to customers in both Johannesburg and Pretoria, it stated.

Takealot has an existing customer centre in Cape Town for customer collections, but only a distribution centre in Johannesburg – where customers cannot pick up orders.

Takealot’s plans
Speaking in an interview with MyBroadband, Takealot CEO Kim Reid confirmed they will open a new customer centre in Johannesburg where buyers can pick up purchases.

He said that Takealot will announce more information about the customer centre in 2019.

“We are busy with that, and will be able to provide more details next year,” said Reid.

He added that customers can also expect to benefit from Superbalist’s Click + Collect locations in the near future.

“What people can expect next year, is that we have rolled out 23 Click + Collect points for Superbalist and we will make those live [for Takealot deliveries],” Reid said.

By Gabriella Steyn for IOL 

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) will soon launch a new online booking platform for South Africans to get their driver’s license.

First launched in the City of Tshwane, the system allows users to make an appointment to renew their driver’s license and also offers a delivery service that will deliver you a new card to you through MDS Collivery.

The RTMC said that waiting in long queues will soon be a thing of the past.

“The platform will ease the process of applying for vehicle driving licenses and combat corruption by minimising the manipulation of the process by unscrupulous officials,” said the RTMC in a statement.

The RTMC said that the current process requires applicants to queue for between 140-180 minutes at a testing station. “This process is also fraught with corruption as officials at the licensing centres have an incentive to withhold available bookings for lucrative payments from willing applicants,” said the RTMC.

They believe that this platform will promote efficient service delivery.

“When it is launched later this month, the solution will benefit the public by removing barriers to access, eliminating fraud and corruption, and optimising business operations.”

The system will first be available to people making their applications in Gauteng before it will gradually expand to other parts of the country.

Bookings for Gauteng can be done through The Online Company SA.

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