IT’S TIME TO INVEST IN E-COMMERCE

There really is no amount of news coverage that can do the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic justice. We’ve seen millions infected, and many billions more affected by the outbreak. Only history will reveal the true effect on our society and our psyche. 

However, as has been the case throughout history, necessity has proven to be the mother of invention. As people have been forced to forego their morning commutes for Zoom audio checks and have grappled with whether they’re living at work instead of working from home, there’s been a sliver of positivity. 

This pandemic has pushed society into a digital revolution. Companies all over the world are rethinking their policies on office hours and remote work, meetings that could have been emails are quickly becoming emails and, in a consumer space, people are shedding their skepticism when it comes to shopping online. 

Consumers were already rapidly expanding their online spending, and the outbreak of COVID-19 and the limitations that it has placed on traditional retail, has sent that online spending into the stratosphere. The sky, however, is not the limit – with e-commerce looking set to continue growing year-on-year.

From a global perspective, while e-commerce had still been firmly in the minority when it came to total retail spending, the outbreak of the pandemic has caused some United States (US) retailers’ in-store purchase revenue to drop by as much as 50%, as reported by the US Census Bureau. 

However, retailers who already had digital and/or e-commerce strategies in place saw that loss in in-store spending be replaced by online sales. Digital Commerce 360 reports that Target saw digital sales grow 275% since April, meaning it could have its best quarter since 2000 even with in-store purchases declining. 

That being said, we know that trends in the Western world don’t necessarily filter through into Africa and South Africa. That also means that we can’t necessarily use cut-and-paste strategies to achieve the same success. 

Africa, however, had been on the brink of an e-commerce surge since before the pandemic, having passed the R14 billion mark – or 1.4% of total retail sales – in 2018, according to World Wide Worx’s Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study. With online sales growing at around 20-35% annually, it was projected then that the 2% mark would be reached by 2022. 

In a South African context, even before the Coronavirus effect, Statista Market Forecast was projecting that 2020 would be a key year for South African online sales, with expectations of the market hitting R60 billion in sales.

But, it’s not just a case of slapping a few products on a Shopify template and hoping that people will buy your products. It’s about crafting a refined digital strategy that’s suited to your target market and finding a creative solution to bring that to the market. 

We’re all sick and tired of hearing the phrase ‘the new normal’, but sometimes it’s a cliche because it’s true.

So, if you’re in need of an e-commerce solution, then have a look at the work hoola did for Coastland Sales earlier this year. We planned, designed and developed their new Coastland Shop and brought it to market with the #ProblemSolved campaign that we’ve been running via their digital channels. This has helped them stem the tide of lockdown and break ground with a new type of consumer.