E-Com­merce con­tin­ues to shape busi­ness A sur­vey by Ef­fec­tive Mea­sure and Visa re­veals that more con­sumers are be­com­ing dig­i­tally ac­tive. We look at what this means for busi­ness.

Finweek English Edition - - THE WEEK -

more con­sumers are adopt­ing on­line plat­forms for their shop­ping, ac­cord­ing to a study by Ef­fec­tive Mea­sure (EM) and Visa. Find­ings from the EM e-Com­merce In­dus­try Re­port 2016 re­veal that of the 12 000 peo­ple sur­veyed, 56% of re­spon­dents shop on­line.

The sur­vey is use­ful in help­ing busi­nesses un­der­stand who on­line users are and then tai­lor their prod­uct of­fer­ings ac­cord­ingly. It can also help them un­der­stand who their off­line users are, and how to draw these con­sumers to be­come more ac­tive in on­line shop­ping, ex­plains Ni­colle Hard­ing, EM lead for sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

Some of the find­ings show that con­sumers will shop on­line more if there was free or cheaper de­liv­ery, re­li­able pay­ment meth­ods and easy re­turn poli­cies. Users also pre­fer to shop on­line to save time, ac­cess on­line prod­uct re­views, com­pare prices and re­ceive spe­cial of­fers. The re­port also shows that con­sumers pre­ferred pur­chas­ing books, DVDs, mu­sic, event and travel tick­ets, as well as mak­ing ho­tel reser­va­tions, on­line.

When it comes to trust, on­line shop­pers are con­cerned about the plat­forms they use to make the pur­chase, with 59% pre­fer­ring to use a desk­top to shop on­line. Off­line users pre­fer to touch the prod­ucts that they are buy­ing, and do not nec­es­sar­ily trust the web­site, ex­plains Hard­ing.

It is ev­i­dent that e-com­merce is be­com­ing an in­te­gral part of daily life. Al­though not all con­sumers shop on­line, they are dig­i­tally ac­tive with­out even real­is­ing it, says Geral­dine Mitch­ley, head of emerg­ing prod­ucts and in­no­va­tion for Visa in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

Busi­nesses need to recog­nise the pro­lif­er­a­tion of e-com­merce and then adapt to make the most of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that come with it. “We are be­com­ing a mo­bile first con­ti­nent…busi­nesses need to an­tic­i­pate this.”

The fol­low­ing four trends are emerg­ing in busi­ness:

En­try of dig­i­tal pow­er­houses into pay­ments. “Ev­ery­thing that can po­ten­tially be digi­tised will be digi­tised,” ex­plains Mitch­ley. The in­tro­duc­tion of dig­i­tal pow­er­houses is turn­ing en­tire in­dus­tries around, and not just the re­tail and fi­nan­cial sec­tors. Uber dis­rupted the en­tire trans­port in­dus­try, for ex­am­ple. “It’s the big­gest trans­port com­pany in the world, and all it is, is a piece of soft­ware,” she adds.

More con­tent is be­com­ing digi­tised and mo­bile and smart­phone pen­e­tra­tion across all LSM groups is con­tribut­ing to these changes, ex­plains Mitch­ley. “There’s enough tech­nol­ogy built in phones to al­low us [busi­nesses] to ser­vice cus­tomers in very dif­fer­ent ways than what we did in the past.”

More re­tail­ers – like Wool­worths, Mr Price and Pick n Pay – have recog­nised the power of e-com­merce and have de­vel­oped apps to en­gage with con­sumers on a dig­i­tal level. Equally, gov­ern­ments and In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) sec­tors are work­ing to make these dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ments more ac­ces­si­ble, she says.

Shift from plas­tic to smart­phones and smart de­vices. “To­day, you can leave home with­out your wal­let, but you can’t leave home with­out your phone,” says Mitch­ley. More and more util­i­ties are be­ing served on our phones. With tech­nol­ogy evolv­ing, all pay­ments pre­vi­ously com­pleted us­ing cards can now be com­pleted via the cloud. As we move from us­ing plas­tic cards to smart­phones, pay­ment plat­forms such as Sam­sung Pay and Ap­ple Pay are com­ing to the fore. The de­tails of a card can now be digi­tised on a smart­phone. Off­line users can now make pay­ments by sim­ply tap­ping their phones at the point of sale, or by us­ing their fin­ger­prints when pay­ing on­line, she ex­plains. “The credit card was not de­signed for the in­ter­net,” says Mitch­ley. Banks are now start­ing to is­sue con­tact­less cards, where pay­ments can be made with a tap, and not the tra­di­tional swipe. Pay­ments with smart­phones work sim­i­larly.

“To­day, you can leave home with­out your wal­let, but you can’t leave home with­out your phone.”

Drive to cre­ate an ef­fort­less con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence will blur lines be­tween face-to-face and re­mote com­merce. e-Com­merce is pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with cus­tomers in in­ter­est­ing ways. A con­sumer can pay their taxi driver with their phone, in a face-to-face en­vi­ron­ment, mak­ing it an e-com­merce trans­ac­tion. Con­sumers brows­ing prod­uct of­fer­ings on a smart de­vice are ac­tu­ally still us­ing a form of e-com­merce, says Mitch­ley.

Busi­nesses should work to find ways to make on­line trans­ac­tions “fric­tion­less”. Shop­ping on­line is very cum­ber­some. “To shop on mo­bile you need three hands, one to hold the phone, one to fill in forms and one to grab the credit card.” Voice-en­abled wire­less speaker, Ama­zon Echo, for ex­am­ple makes the on­line ex­pe­ri­ence sim­pler with its “one-click” ex­pe­ri­ence, says Mitch­ley. Rapid growth of peer-to-peer shar­ing econ­omy.

e-Com­merce is be­com­ing an in­te­gral part of daily life.

Ni­colle Hard­ing Ef­fec­tive Mea­sure lead for sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa

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