Secure online payment is key to South Africa’s eCommerce growth

Research indicates that online commerce is set to grow in South Africa, the speed and extent of that growth will be dependent on several factors, with payment as one of the most crucial.

Getting online payments right will play a role both in encouraging existing online shoppers to buy more, and to tempt offline shoppers online.

A key characteristic of online commerce in South Africa—and in Africa more generally—is the centrality of mobile commerce.

Research by the online fashion retailer, Spree, in 2017 indicated that the number of respondents preferring to use a mobile phone to shop had increased by 167 percent over the 2015 figure. Apps will thus power online shopping going forward, making the penetration of smartphones a critical consideration for online retailers.
Winning online payment solutions will therefore have to include mobile.

As regards payment, research from Effective Measure shows that there is overwhelming preference for either credit cards (45 percent) or debit cards (21 percent), with bank transfer the next-biggest category (20 percent).

The Effective Measure survey confirms the important of payment to online commerce. It finds that the biggest barriers to shopping online include a trusted payment solution and a better experience on the website. For online shoppers a trusted payment method was identified as a desirable improvement by 14 percent of respondents. For offline shoppers, a lack of trust in online payments was the top deterrent to shopping online (20 percent).

All indications are that South Africa’s e-commerce market is set for strong growth. But the big winners will be those online retailers who create payment solutions that inspire confidence but that also enhance the customer experience.

By Moath Ismail, VP Digital Banking for CISMEA, Gemalto


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Online shopping is on the rise in South Africa, says PayPal

Online payment gateway company PayPal says there is a growing demand by South Africans to use digital wallets as a payment method.

The company, which is targeting SA's unbanked population, supports online money transfers and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods like cheques and money orders.
Click here

A digital wallet refers to an electronic device that allows an individual to make electronic transactions. This can include purchasing items online with a computer or using a smartphone to purchase something at a store. An individual's bank account can also be linked to the digital wallet.

As of 2016, PayPal has 600 000 users in sub-Saharan Africa.

PayPal recently released data about mobile phone usage and mobile e-commerce in SA. According to the company, online shopping is on the rise in SA.

The survey was run by Johannesburg-based research company Answered Insight. The research followed a quantitative approach where data was collected via a smart device (smartphone, tablet), PC or laptop form of an online survey.

"Our survey has shown that South Africans want to shop online via their mobile devices," says Efi Dahan, GM of PayPal for Russia, Middle East and Africa. "We found that many are already using their phone as a digital wallet, going so far as to leaving their wallets behind to do all their transactions with their phone."

It emerged that 85% of the respondents have used their mobile phones to make a purchase in the past year, and 46% said being able to shop on their mobile phones has made them buy more.

According to PayPal, 52% have said in the past month, they have left the house without their wallet at least once, preferring to do their payments with their mobile device.

The majority of South Africans would rather leave home without their wallets than leave home without their mobile devices (47% vs 53%).

Three of the top seven most used mobile apps were related to e-commerce.

"E-commerce has the potential to connect consumers to the digital global economy," says Dahan. "The data showcases a huge opportunity for South African businesses to reap rewards and grow their businesses if they embrace mobile e-commerce and provide the convenience consumers all over the world crave."

PayPal also asked respondents to rank a variety of stressful scenarios that would cause them the most anxiety. The survey results found 60% ranked losing their phone or having it stolen as a scenario that would cause them the most anxiety and worry.

This scenario tied with a home invasion for the highest response, and more South Africans are worried about having their phone stolen than getting fired from their job.

South Africans are beginning to see the benefits of online shopping, which gives them access to a large variety of goods, Dahan says.

He attributes this to an increase in mobile device penetration in SA. Mobile devices are allowing almost anyone to access the Internet.

There is also popularity with using PayPal's technologies like "One Touch", which allows users to complete purchases faster, he notes. When a user logs into PayPal, with their mobile phone or from a desktop, tablet or laptop, they can choose to stay logged in for easier, faster check-out across all eligible merchants.

He adds local retailers have upped the game regarding deploying technologies that enable online shopping.

Although many South Africans are still using feature phones, Dahan says more and more cheaper smartphones are being shipped into the country.

According to Dahan, the South African market is growing much faster than PayPal expected, thanks to mobile devices.

Source: itweb.co.za

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New e-Commerce Business Opportunities

e-Commerce has changed the way the world conducts business, and the rise in technology has made it easier to interact with customers quickly and across borders. With economies becoming more interconnected, companies large and small are now able to access markets that were previously unattainable.

With a growing shift in retail industry trends, driven by technology and access to the Internet, consumers are now accessing most stores and brands through online platforms. This shift provides entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to expand with new opportunities to sell their products or services to a much bigger international market.

According to the PayPal and Ipsos third annual cross-border commerce report, South Africa’s online spend is forecasted to grow to over R53bn by 2018. In 2016, 43% of adults in South Africa shopped cross-border. The US is the most popular cross-border online shopping destination for South African online shoppers, followed by China and the UK.

“It is essential that e-commerce business owners address the entire value chain of the online shopping process to make sure that they cater to their customers’ needs and deliver on their expectations,” says Mike Higley, Vice President Operations, FedEx Express Southern Africa”.

“Businesses that manage to combine innovative products and services with a seamless online experience and quality customer care, will be the ones who attract and retain their online customers,” Higley adds.

Customer service, customer experience and price are the three main ways for e-commerce retailers to distinguish themselves from the competition. In “Seizing the Cross-Border Opportunity ,” a study commissioned on behalf of FedEx, Forrester Consulting surveyed online merchants and thousands of online consumers across 17 countries and markets to understand their concerns, their priorities, and what smart SMEs are doing to bridge that gap and remain competitive.

Below are some of the key research findings highlighting best practices for cross-border businesses in the digital age.

1. Understand your customer

2. Highlight what makes your products special

3. Put global consumers at ease

4. Build your brand on excellent service

Source: Fundisiwe Maseko It News Africa

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Google Africa mentorship programmes for tech entrepreneurs

The Google Developers Launchpad Africa Space was opened on 13 November in Lagos, Nigeria. It will interact directly with tech entrepreneurs in that country, as well as offer support and software tools to help build sustainable tech business ideas from the rest of Africa.

The Lagos operation is the first of its kind to be established outside the United States. The programme is accepting applications for its first onsite and online courses, beginning in early 2018.

Applications are open to tech start-ups with their own seed funding from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Those chosen to participate in the three-month programme will receive more than $3-million (R42m at today’s exchange rate) in equity-free support, working space, travel and public relations support, as well as access to Silicon Valley tech business experts over three years.

Google’s sub-Saharan Africa regional manager, Andy Volk, said Google had been looking for ways to get more involved in African tech businesses for a number of years.

“Anyone who spends time in the African technology space knows that the continent is home to some exciting innovations,” Volk told IOL News. “[Google’s small-scale engagement with African start-ups so far] has been able to tackle everything from healthcare, education and streamlining e-commerce to improving the food supply chain.”

It was now time, he said, to step that up and open opportunities to more African ideas: “We are looking forward to welcoming the first cohort of innovators for Launchpad Africa and continuing to work together to drive innovation in the African market.”

One example of the Google effect on African tech innovation is the South African start-up Jumo, a financial services platform aimed at emerging markets. The company was the first and so far most successful start-up to go through the Launchpad accelerator.

Company founders and some staff attended an intensive two-week boot camp at Google headquarters in California in July 2017. The two weeks were aimed at building the business and developing tools that would increase its footprint in offering easy-to-use financial services on mobile platforms.

The company received a $50,000 funding boost, and benefits from ongoing support and mentorship.

For more information about the Google Developers Launchpad Africa Space, click here https://youtu.be/xoZsNN9UGlQ

Opening Google Play to South African designers

Google’s online app store, Play, this month opened to South African app developers and designers, no matter how small or inexperienced.

In addition to gaining a virtual marketplace for their apps, designers are able to access Play’s development and commerce tools that will help them to monetise their products and access a market of millions of global users.

Apps for Play are limited to Android operating systems, but unlike competitors Apple, Google Play accepts all types of apps, with the aim of helping to develop and streamline app design for the benefit of the consumer and designer. This means that even the most novice and rudimentary app idea has access to and can get help from the global Google brain trust.

Developers in South Africa can get started right away by signing in to Google’s Developer Console and setting up a Google merchant account. If existing apps are already published as free, designers can choose to monetise them by adding in-app products or subscriptions.

Armed with fully developed apps and in-app products, developers can price them in any available currencies, publish, access financial and marketing data, and get pay-outs in South African rand.

“There have been plenty of amazing apps built in South Africa,” Luke McKend, director of Google South Africa, told IOL News at the announcement of the programme, “[but] the process of monetising them was never as smooth as we knew it could be.

“By allowing local developers to monetise their products on the Play Store, we’re underscoring how serious we are about digitally empowering South Africans.”

While the programme is currently limited to South African app development, success in this first stage of the project may lead to expansion into the rest of the continent over the next few years.

For more information about accessing Google Play and the Google Developer Console, click here https://youtu.be/GdZxbmEHW7M

Source: Brand South Africa, Google Africa

 

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South Africans are going global for Black Friday deals

South Africans shop for global Black Friday deals in the US, UK, China, Australia and Europe by subscribing to international shipping services.

This is according to Mark Mahoney manager of eCommerce services for delivery company Aramex Global Shopper, who said that South African consumers have become increasingly more comfortable shopping online from retailers all over the globe.

“Black Friday traditionally kicks off the global retail festive season – we saw a 31% increase in shipments over the festive season in 2016 and anticipate a similar spike this year.

“Additionally year on year growth in global shopping shipments grew by 96%”, he said.

Where South Africans are buying?

Unsurprisingly Amazon remains the “go to” site for many South Africans, said Mahoney.

However he said that site-choice was heavily dependent on whether shoppers were looking to make general Black Friday purchases or had a specific “niche” product in mind.

According to Mahoney, some of the favourites besides Amazon include:

    Sephora
    Alibaba.com
    Asos
    Zara Online
    ThinkGeek.com
    Google Home
    AmazonEcho
    Fisher-Price.com
    Lego Online;
    Powerhousefitness.co.uk

What they are buying

Fashion and beauty remains a big focus for South African female shoppers, said Mahoney, while sports equipment, gadgets ,and technology remain strong favourites alongside toys as Christmas gifts.

“While local retailers offer great savings over Black Friday weekend, retailers across the globe frequently cut prices to a mere fraction of their original price,” he said.

“South Africans can look offshore for unprecedented savings and can then use a well-priced shipping company like ourselves to affordably bring their finds home.

“Global shopping also allows South Africans to purchase ‘first to market’ tech and next season’s fashions for sales prices, making up for costly customs duties and ensuring that they stay abreast with trends before they arrive in South African stores months later.”

Source: Businesstech.co.za

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The Art of Digital selling

We frequently say that we live in the digital age, where data streams at speedier rates, is more intricate and is more open. As much as this data can be broke down by organizations to settle on better educated choices, the genuine inquiry is, is there space to adjust the business scene?

South Africa has about 52% users that utilise the web, with 70% mobile penetration. With more than half the population being enabled to use either the internet or a cell phone, businesses need to ask themselves whether digital retail strategies are the next evolution of selling. A simple, yet startling fact by GSMA is that in 2015, mobile technologies and services were already generating 6.7% of Africa’s GDP, amounting to $150bn of economic value and supporting 3.8m jobs.

As more consumer groups become digitally savvy, businesses need to shift both their approach and “shops” from being traditional to being digital. In the latest e-commerce report, South Africans frequently return to their online store, purchasing media, books or travel products – they are primarily based in metropolitan areas, visit social media sites (or check emails) while shopping and are quite at ease with technology.

These type of insights and analytics in the digital space are growing significantly to assist businesses target consumers via social media – an example of the extent to which targeting has reached are banner ads on Google or Facebook – these are usually very targeted based on individual user patterns. Around 37% of businesses are currently using social media or viral marketing as their primary marketing driver, however this number needs to grow over the next few years.

Source: Dr Yudhvir Seetharam, Head of Analytics at FNB by www.sagoodnews.co.za

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Yuppiechef is opening its first physical store

Online kitchen and homeware store Yuppiechef is opening its first physical store in one month from now, in Cape Town.

"It has been a long time since we sent the first Yuppiechef online order from my lounge. E-commerce based business empowered us to begin a retail business with no stock, staff or costly rentals. We have developed into a group of 85, with a stockroom and a large number of items, and have delighted in being a piece of a spearheading industry in South Africa," said Yuppiechef fellow benefactor Andrew Smith.

He said that for quite a while the organisation trusted that online business was the fate of retail, and that inevitably this channel would 'win' and the others would 'pass on'. "We weren't right," he said.

"We trust that the eventual fate of retail is 'omni-channel', which implies a mix of physical stores and online business."

Yuppiechef is opening its initially store on 1 October at Willowbridge Center, in Cape Town's Northern Suburbs.

"We trust that our first store is a major achievement and it is the begin of additional to come all through South Africa. At this stage we don't have firm gets ready for where or when future stores will open," Smith said.

Source: businesstech.co.za

 

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Alipay Payment Gateway Enters South Africa

Chinese tourists would now be able to utilize Alipay in 10,000 merchant traders in South Africa.

Alipay has reported an association with Zapper, a mobile payment, created in South Africa.

As uncovered by the firm, this partnership will enable Chinese visitors in South Africa to pay utilizing their cell phones at 10,000 Zapper-partnered dealers across South Africa.

Chinese visitors will have the capacity to pay for restaurants, bars, theaters, book shops and more through Alipay's in-app Discovery platform, and pay for their requests in RMB by means of Alipay by scanning a Zapper QR code.

We are eager to partner together with Zapper, to offer Chinese tourists a safe and convenient payment solution and seamless travel experience,” said Rita Liu, Head of Alipay EMEA.

Source www.itnewsafrica.com

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Acer Computers launch online store

Acer, the leading brand in consumer technology hardware, software and services in IoT globally, today announced that the company will expand its customer support by introducing its first online store in South Africa called Shop Acer.

In 2016 a staggering 58% of online adults in South Africa were shopping via e-commerce platforms and this trend will continue to increase year-on-year.

By creating Shop Acer, the company will be providing a unique online shopping destination for consumers that includes Acer’s bestselling products.

Exclusive deals and special offers will also be available from the store during peak seasons and holiday periods.

Marketing Manager at Acer Africa, Belinda Marais says, “We are delighted to finally announce that the Shop Acer store is now live.

The store will stock all Acer products available in South Africa and aims to provide our customers with an exclusive Acer experience and offer them a direct link to the brand and its services.”

Acer’s product offering includes laptops, desktops, monitors, projectors, accessories and gaming, all of which can be delivered free of charge to your door from www.shopacer.co.za.

As part of the Shop Acer launch, Acer will be offering customers exclusive deals of up to 50% off

Source: mybroadband.co.za

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Payments Gateways continue to dominate South Africa's fintech landscape

In 2016 $5.5 billion of venture capital investment went into payments start-ups. This represented 22% of global fintech investment activity. In South Africa, payments still dominate the fintech landscape. At AlphaCode, a club for fintech entrepreneurs, we are seeing a tremendous amount of innovation in payments as SA consumers seek new ways to transact. Due to SA’s sophisticated banking infrastructure, we possess strong skills in this sector and many entrepreneurs are finding better and more efficient ways to transact. Here are some of the innovative start-ups operating in the payments space that fulfill specific customer needs.

Tapping the informal economy

As a result of migrant labour, there’s a desperate need to be able to send money home in a cost-effective way. Mama Money spotted this gap, and leverages technology to reduce the current costs of sending money cross-border by almost 50%, compared to existing money transfer solutions. This addresses a customer need and a social imperative to deliver services at a price that users can afford. It’s been so successful that it has expanded from initially sending money to Zimbabwe two years ago, to providing services in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi, India and Kenya.

Zoona, which operates in Zambia and Malawi, offers domestic money transfer services to customers without needing a bank account. A key element of the model is the roll out of agent kiosks, which are like mini bank branches. This has been critical in a country with limited existing bank infrastructure. It has also empowered thousands of Zambians and Malawians to start their own businesses as Zoona agents. Zoona, in this way, increases financial inclusion by allowing citizens to transact, delivering a pleasing customer experience at a lower cost. To date it has serviced more than 1.5 million consumers and have facilitated over $1 billion in money transfers.

Facilitating payments for SMEs

Small businesses have battled to get card machines from banks. This has resulted in many SMEs operating in cash, which introduces significant risk to them personally. Even if a business qualifies, the costs associated with these card machines are often prohibitively expensive for an SME.

Yoco and iKhokha have addressed this by offering cost-friendly mobile card machines that simply plug into or connect with a mobile phone. Yoco and iKhokha have also simplified the pricing associated with card machines by not locking SMEs into expensive monthly contracts and allowing them to buy the device as a once-off purchase. They also offer much more competitive pricing on card swipes (2.5-3% compared to traditional bank rates of between 5-6%).

Increasing convenience for consumers

South Africa has a strong financial system but banks are behind on delivering the type of experience customers are looking for. In an on-demand economy, consumers want get things done quickly and easily – using their phones. Zapper and SnapScan allow customers to make payments via their phones as quickly as swiping a card. Restaurants and food markets have been early adopters of this technology, which vastly improves the customer experience; no more sitting around waiting for the card machine to pay the bill at the end of a meal or need to carry cash.

Walletdoc allows you to pay bills from your cellphone, thereby reducing the hassle factor. You can upload your City of Joburg bill for instance, and pay instantly without having to log into your bank or go into a Pick n Pay. In addition, the app ensures that you get loyalty points from your bank for these payments. Again, this is the type of convenience consumers demand in today’s fast-paced world.

Developing new rails

Businesses like Zapper, SnapScan and WalletDoc work on credit card and debit card “rails”. These “rails” work well, but it’s an expensive system for a business and they pay a significant portion of each transaction to banks and the card associations (Visa and Mastercard) for the convenience.

Wicode wants to take customers off card rails and onto new rails using mobile payments at retail stores – this is a game changer. It recognises that if you are introducing a new payment protocol, it needs to be easy for both the retailer and the consumer. Wicode has developed a seven-digit code as well as QR code technology, which you give to a cashier for payment. It’s simple and easy. The difficulty lies in getting people off old rails and onto new ones. However, this start-up has made great progress rolling out its solution into Pick n Pay, Shoprite and Vida e Café.

Bitcoin companies are also working on new rails – the blockchain’s decentralised ledger. Luno, which allows you to buy, store or pay with Bitcoin, takes the view that banks are expensive and slow. Luno realised it could leverage this new technology, which allows users to make payments that are cleared in less than ten minutes. People appreciate Bitcoin as a store of value, but have realised that it’s also a quick and easy way to pay for things. Finally, this is a rail that has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the traditional bank payment and card rails and gives an enhanced customer experience at a much lower cost.

Serving business needs

Electrum takes friction out of the payment system for corporates. Because there are different payment protocols – Bitcoin, mobile, cards, airtime – Electrum allows all these different options to be able to transact with a corporate in the changing payments landscape. It also allows corporates like retailers and banks to sell new products like data, airtime and movie vouchers to their customers. These value-added services are a great revenue stream for retailers and banks.

Peach Payments is a payment gateway and an integration layer which allows online and offline merchants to accept payments across all channels – website, mobile sites and mobile apps. It gives them access to all payment methods including credit/debit cards, bank transfers, mobile wallets, electronic wallets and mobile operator billing. This is important for retailers as they embrace an omni-channel world and servicing customers across physical and digital channels.

The payments landscape is changing rapidly. Fintech startups are gaining momentum and are beginning to shape how, where and when payments are made with new options and solutions being presented to customers at an ever-greater speed. This will have tremendous impact on the banking system as we know it. The race is on and the battle for the customer in this space is about to get more intense.

Source: Dominique Collett AlphaCode

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