The secret to luring SA shoppers online

By Adlips Jessica Hubbard, Deputy Editor, 25 November 15
See the video here

Earlier this year, WhyFive, a consumer insights business focused on syndicated landscape surveys and market reports, explored online retail in South Africa. Brandon de Kock, director of storytelling at WhyFive, highlights some of the key findings from their study and the implications for SA’s e-commerce players.

“When we first started looking into this whole online world [of retail], we noticed that people have a lot of suppositions; they have a lot of navel-gazing thoughts about who’s buying, who’s not buying, etc.,” he explains. “And that’s kind of why we went in; to try and work out who is doing a really good job of converting browsers into purchasers, where are people making purchases, and what kinds of things they’re trying to buy online.”

For example, he says that books and CDs make for easy online purchases, and are fairly popular online.

“It’s the other level of products, things like groceries and even wine, that are more subjective, and that’s where the difficulty lies in the market,” he says. “We’ve discovered that people definitely do want to buy online, it’s just that not every product is an attractive online purchase.”

He points out that when online retail first became a reality, many of the physical retailers realised that they would soon be competing with online players for their customers’ spend.

“So a lot of the brick and mortar clients needed to become ‘clicks and mortar’ clients, and to offer people that online option,” he says.

Something tangible
Interestingly, he maintains that the pure online players – such as Superbalist, and Yuppiechef – need to have some kind of physical manifestation of their brands.
“Because what we think we’ve discovered, is that most people in this country trust online retailers less than they trust retailers with a physical presence,” explains de Kock. “And it kind of makes sense: if you’re used to buying from a shop, why would you suddenly buy from somewhere that has no physical connection to your world?”

Any advice for local online retailers (and marketers)?
“Whether it’s through a pop-up shop, a marketing campaign, or a tangible brand ambassador, this kind of [physical] outreach is a necessary piece of the puzzle if you want to be a successful online retailer in SA.”