Top SA e-commerce fails - and fixes

Online shopping could replace traditional stores as internet access expands. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Online shopping could replace traditional stores as internet access expands. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town - The proliferation of smartphones presents a new opportunity for retailers to reach increasingly mobile savvy customers.

However, many companies do a terrible job of building engaging channels that enable consumers to transact and interact with firms across multiple platforms and devices, says an industry expert.

According to Tim Bishop, director at Deloitte Digital, some firms get e-commerce so wrong, they completely put people off online shopping.

Here are Bishop's top e-commerce fails and how to fix them:

Not enabling social integration

Social networking activity is extremely valuable for gaining insights into customer buying decisions, as more people are using social networks to validate their purchases.

No differentiation

Retailers need more strategic innovation such as personalisation, mobile integration and even decision-aiding tools to set themselves apart. They need to have the right mix of relevant products, service and ease of acquisition to win at this game.

Launching unprepared

E-commerce is about more than just having a website. There are fulfilment requirements to consider, and they need careful thought because of the unreliability of the SA Post Office.

No content

One of the best ways to encourage people to buy is to create compelling and well-presented content, such as strategically placed recipes on a food retail site.

No returns policy

If a retailer doesn’t offer a refund or exchange option to unsatisfied customers, they are unlikely to want to buy from there in the first place.

Only offering credit card purchases

Most websites also offer EFT and services like PayPal as an option. E-commerce retailers should consider using transitive content that reminds customers that they have multiple payment options to ease them along to the point that they make a purchase.

Lack of trust

Local e-commerce retailers have a long way to go in order to establish the same kind of trust for products beyond airline tickets, books and music.

Getting after-sale service wrong

Many smaller e-commerce retailers might be put off by their inability to compete against the established players on a back-end and fulfilment level. But this shouldn’t be a handicap – they can outsource those functions, including virtualised warehousing and logistics to a third party until they are able to scale up to a size where doing their own warehousing is appropriate.

How has your online shopping experience been? Let us know.

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