Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, a massive shift towards eCommerce was already taking place. South Africa’s adoption of online shopping might have been slower than other countries, but is quickly accelerating – especially with consumers likely to be cautious of in-person shopping for many months to come.
And while selling online certainly makes a lot of sense on paper for businesses and vendors, how to actually go about it is not quite so straightforward!
Here we take a look at why selling online is so important, how your business can start doing it simply and affordably, and how you can get your slice of the ecommerce action!
Why selling online is important
The single most important reason your products need to be available online? Because that’s where your customers are.
Take a look at some of these retail trends and ecommerce stats:
- Global ecommerce sales are expected to hit $3.9 trillion in 2020.
- US and Canadian online retail orders grew by 146% as of April 21st.
- In South Africa, online transactions increased by 40% from February this year.
- South Africa’s largest ecommerce sector is fashion, with a projected market volume of US$1,258m (that’s about R21 million) in 2020.
- 37% of South Africans say they’re shopping online more than ever before.
Perhaps the most interesting trend of all is among older South Africans. Online transactions for those aged 60 and above have increased by an incredible 90% since February.
It’s clear that now more than ever, brands need to allow customers to shop from the comfort of home.
Biggest benefits of selling your products online
- Reach a global audience: A billboard can attract customers from miles around. A great ecommerce site opens your offering up to the entire planet!
- Reduced costs: Without the need for physical retail space, you can lower your overheads significantly.
- Sell 24/7: Your brick and mortar store closes for the night – your website doesn’t.
- Boost brand recognition: Even if a virtual visitor doesn’t buy straight away, they’ve been exposed to your offering and learnt about what you have to offer.
- Ability to personalize the shopping experience: Through a virtual store, you can tailor the messaging each customer receives based on their interests and purchasing history.
How to start selling online
So, you’re convinced you need to put your products out there in cyberspace – what now? First of all, you have to find a channel (or channels!) that suits your brand and business model. Some of the main options include:
- Sell on an established online marketplace like Amazon, eBay, Jet, Etsy and, of course, RSA Made
- Build your own ecommerce site on a platform like BigCommerce, Shopify or Wix
- Sell via social media, such as with Facebook’s Marketplace or using Instagram’s ‘Shop Now’ buttons
- Add an online shop to your existing website, for example using WordPress’ WooCommerce plugin
Some of these options are expensive, and some cost next to nothing. Building your own ecommerce store means you’ll almost certainly need the services of a professional web developer – unless you happen to be pretty good at coding yourself. The same goes for adding an online shop to your existing website.
It’s also important to consider how many different products you want to sell online. Your approach is going to be very different if you only sell a handful of items (such as a cottage industry) or if you sell hundreds of different product variations (such as clothing which comes in lots of different styles and sizes). Some free website builders will allow you to list up to 10 or so products for free before you have to start paying for additional functionality.
What you’re selling is equally important. You wouldn’t want to try and sell electronic goods on a platform people generally use to buy beauty products.
Generally, the best approach is to start small, but leave yourself space to expand and scale. Budget-wise, a platform like ours here at RSA Made, which operates on a commission basis, makes sense as a starting point. Because you only pay based on what you sell, you’ll always end up making a profit.
5 tips for ecommerce success
- Don’t skimp on delivery: Ensure the courier service you work with has a good track record, and can get your customers’ orders to them on time.
- Invest in great product images: Because your potential customers can’t actually see or touch your items, the images you use need to make up for that!
- Prioritize customer service: Answer queries promptly, respond to reviews, and take complaints seriously.
- Keep ‘em coming back for more: Offer repeat order or loyalty discounts.
- Build your brand: Let people know what you stand for, who you are, and how your products can help them.
Ready to get started? RSA Made is the perfect place to showcase your Proudly South African products to Saffers and the world! We’d love to welcome you to the family, and help you reach your potential customers simply and affordably.