South Africa is a large consumer market with a growing e-commerce sector expected to reach over 306 billion rand in 2021. Of course, succeed in this market has its challenges. Fortunately, by following a few best practices, you can generate conversions and, in turn, maximize your income.
An introduction to hosting and ecommerce software
The first step? Choose between a hosted or self-hosted ecommerce platform. Shopify is a popular hosted solution because it lets you launch your store in minutes:
However, the ease of this platform comes at a cost. You may only use the tools provided by Shopify and the add-ons available on the platform marketplace. This can limit your options, especially if you have a specific creative vision in mind. You also won’t be able to choose your host – an important decision in terms of performance and security.
Alternatively, you can install a self-hosted E-commerce platform like WooCommerce. Self-hosted solutions are generally more customizable than their hosted counterparts.
“As the owner of a WordPress web design agency, my go-to platform is WooCommerce. It is also the most popular e-commerce platform in the world, with a 26% market share. I recommend WooCommerce because it is easy to use, cost effective, and well supported. – Felix Norton, Whoa
With WooCommerce, you have full control over your ecommerce platform. This includes installing WordPress plugins and themes to add new functionality. You can even customize the finer elements of your store design using specific page builder plugins. However, not all WordPress plugins and themes are free, so you might need to factor this into your start-up costs.
Choose a web host
If you choose a website builder like Shopify, this platform will host your website for you. If you opt for a self-hosted platform, on the other hand, you must choose a reliable host.
Many companies provide hosting services to international customers, but the location of your store’s data center can impact your page load times. When data has to travel longer distances, it causes latency and slows down your store. To improve the shopping experience for your local customers, it makes sense to go with a vendor with servers located in South Africa.
Creation of your online store
“When it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform to build your site on, entrepreneurs in South Africa should only choose between WordPress or Shopify. These platforms are the most established, offer the widest range of support and both have a wide range of plugins and applications that allow you to add additional functionality to your website as you go. your growth, which means you won’t need to hire a developer once you want to make a change. – Warrick Kernes, Insaka
Once you’ve chosen your hosting partner and platform, you need to create your online store. This includes creating essential sections such as your product pages, a cart, and a checkout page. You should also create an area where loyal customers can log into their accounts:
To help drive sales, your site must have persistent orders. This means that customers can return and complete their purchases at any time. Some buyers may be reluctant to share their payment information online, so it is also essential that you meet important safety standards, including the installation of a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.
Three tips for breaking into the South African e-commerce market
It is important to tailor your store to your target audience. With that in mind, here are three tips for building an eCommerce store that has instant appeal in the local South African market.
“The first thing to think about when starting an online store is choosing the right product. Unlike physical stores, you have to take logistics into account. Take into account the weight, size, delivery distance and perishability of your product. – Felix Norton, Whoa
1. Prioritize the most popular product categories
According to International trade administration, the main categories of e-commerce products in South Africa are clothing / apparel and media. By highlighting these categories in your online store, you can increase your appeal to local consumers.
2. Support South Africa’s Preferred Local Payment Methods
If customers cannot pay using their preferred methods, they are likely to abandon their online shopping carts. In South Africa, 41% of all e-commerce transactions are completed using a credit or debit card, while Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) accounts for 20%.
Due to an increase in credit card fraud, the Payment Association of South Africa is enforcing the use of 3D Secure. This means that your store must implement Secure 3d at the register.
Many popular ecommerce platforms support EFT and card payments, including WooCommerce and Shopify. By choosing a platform that supports these out-of-the-box gateways, you can reduce the time and effort required to launch your online store.
You can also process payments using a mobile solution such as SnapScan. This popular app removes the need for cards and EFTs, which can positively impact your conversions and cart abandonment rates.
3. Choose a local domain extension
Your domain extension can instantly communicate your local eCommerce business status. If you are operating in a specific city, you can opt for an extension such as .capetown, .durban or .joburg. Alternatively, if you are operating throughout South Africa then .co.za is a good choice.
“Rely on the e-commerce community. You’re not alone. It can be a lonely trip if you try to figure it all out on your own – there are already thousands of people on the same trip and you should lean on them to find the answers to your questions. – Warrick Kernes, Insaka
It’s time to become South Africa’s next e-commerce success story
Taking your business online can be a daunting prospect, but there are huge potential rewards. For example, online giant Takealot is believed to be generating R700 million in revenue each month.
By creating an e-commerce store optimized for the local market, you’ll be in an ideal position to connect with a huge (and growing) audience of online shoppers, and maybe even compete with Takealot for profits!
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