As the near-overnight adoption of online shopping and services in the wake of Covid-19 showed, e-commerce can change at dramatic speeds. It also showed that some fads come and go just as fast. And how others, like 1994's QR code, can make dramatic comebacks.
Although predicting the next significant e-commerce trends is difficult, there's no debate that it will continue to be crucial for most businesses.
Speaking about the need for e-commerce adoption in South Africa's wine industry, RaboResearch analyst Bourcard Nesin said the days of e-commerce being a nice-to-have are long gone.
"E-commerce will be the number one driver of industry growth over the next decade and a critical component of brand building, awareness, and trial, both online and in-store. Companies that fail to proactively invest in their e-commerce teams will struggle to remain relevant and retain market share," Nesin said.
This is true for most industries in South Africa. And although it should drive business owners to rapidly adopt e-commerce plans, without a clear focus on what to do, where e-commerce is going, and what customers now expect from the experience, it may just fall flat.
According to Herman de Kock, Netbank Business Banking's head of sales and service, however, avoiding an e-commerce plan is non-negotiable.
"With consumers becoming more comfortable with online shopping, coupled with technology that continues to augment the online shopping experience, one can expect the growth in e-commerce trend to continue ahead of inflation," de Kock says. "To put it differently, can any business owner afford to miss out on the growth opportunity in e-commerce?"
These are the key e-commerce trends that will shape businesses in South Africa in 2022:
1. Your customer is still the priority - even with the rise of digitisation
For many businesses and customers, one of the joys of e-commerce is the limited human interactions. This is precisely why it rose overnight alongside the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet the distance between you and your customers doesn't mean they are less important now than they once were.
"The golden guideline is to see digitisation and whatever it means for your business as an augmentation of your strategy and not a strategy in itself," says de Kock. "Stay focused on what your customer wants and on how much their buying and product preferences have changed under the current circumstances."
2. The platform economy is here to stay
One of the best ways for a small business to grow its online presence is to tap into existing platforms. Companies selling a small inventory of products don't need to reinvent the wheel by building a complex and costly e-commerce store, for example. Platform economies like Netbank's Avo allow you to cut right to the chase of selling products and accepting payments online, says de Kock, without any of the hassle that used to come with e-commerce stores.
"This is an era where platforms give the business owner the ability to launch their business into multiple ecosystems. Whether users need home services, groceries, takeaways, great tech deals, deals on vacation destinations, entertainment options or security solutions, Avo offers these and much more," de Kock says.
3. Customer data will continue to be crucial
Customer data will continue to be one of the main drivers of e-commerce over traditional sale methods. When customers use your online store, they leave valuable information that businesses will need to continue leveraging to improve both the shopper experience and your turnover. This is less complex, and will become more important, than many business owners think - a bank that knows how to grow e-commerce will have solutions that do this automatically for your business.
4. Card payments will become even more accessible
Gone are the days when businesses need to carry costly, cumbersome credit card machines to accept non-cash payments. These days, anyone from a market stall operator to a large retailer can accept payments safely, securely, and instantly. And in 2022, payment technology and gateways are likely to get smaller, faster, and cheaper.
"Nedbank, for example, offers solutions that enable your business to adapt to the era of digitisation in small affordable steps, such as its brand-new Tap on Phone feature on its PocketPOS app," says de Kock. "This feature converts your compatible smartphone into a card-accepting device, with no extra fees."
5. Enterprise solutions will solve multiple problems for small businesses
The e-commerce world is not as fragmented as it may initially appear, and many leading banks are already consolidating a range of features and options to streamline the process of taking a business online. This will remove the hassle of small business owners finding independent providers for hosting, payment gateways, fulfilment, and delivery, and bring many features into compact, integrated packages.
According to de Kock, a business owner who banks with Nedbank can embrace the world of e-commerce through Nedbank Enterprise.
"We offer a payment solution for the digital era that is fully integrated into a company's website, eliminating the need to redirect customers to another site to make payment. With this solution, Nedbank Business Banking continues to make consumer convenience, ease of transacting and peace of mind a reality," de Kock says.
To learn more about Nedbank Enterprise, click HERE.
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This post was sponsored by Nedbank and produced by Adspace Studio.