The changing of retail-caring for today's online consumers

MAY 27, 2016

The local online shopping pool has increased drastically in size since 2014, with savvy South African consumers taking advantage of this quick, easy way to scratch their retail itch. E-commerce in South Africa is to reach a milestone this year, by reaching 1% of overall retail, according to research by Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx. This amounts to consumers spending over R9 billion online.  But by the same token, the average busy consumer doesn’t want to waste time on a site that doesn’t provide enough information or, worse, under-delivers.

The challenging economic climate in South Africa due to a weaker rand, increasing costs of energy and higher interest rates, has added pressure to consumers. Because of this 3.2 million South Africans are shopping online, and are driven by lower product costs, faster and flexible delivery and safer ways to pay.

Millennials’ are the main online shopper, and most of them do research before making a purchase,” explains Michael Richards, managing director of SiteMeUp Online Marketing, “this means that well written content with thoughtful planning into user navigation is required to improve the user’s experience.” A well designed site also needs to carry across the companies brand message quickly in order to give the user peace of mind that they are on the correct site and they will find what they are looking for.

 “Our research has shown that 50% of beauty shoppers don’t know which brand they want to purchase, so we have channels of communication set up to answer any queries, and help them make an informed choice,” says Dr Nikolic. SkinMiles.com provides a skincare hotline during office hours, enabling the consumer to direct questions directly to a qualified person. And if they want to go straight to the top, Dr Alek is on email. SkinMiles.com also has a unique loyalty programme whereby you can earn “SkinMiles” from your very first skincare product purchase, and redeem them at your leisure as they never expire.

Goldstuck states that South African ecommerce is relatively conventional, and has not seen the level of innovation brought to bear on most product categories in major Western markets. This indicates that there is tremendous potential in this market for new business models and even underexposed product categories. With this in mind South African ecommerce entrepreneurs’ can tap into the over 3 million online shoppers in South Africa with their innovative and stress-free websites.

One of the most important global trends in e-commerce is the focus on the customers’ journey and ensuring that their needs are met from start to finish.  “We want our customers to feel as if they have been given the same personalised service as if they’d been for a consult and received the advice from an expert in the skincare field,” says Dr Alek Nikolic, executive director of SkinMiles.com, a new online store selling high-quality skincare products at competitive prices. “The personal touch is very important to us and we feel that we meet that need for individual attention with the Face2Face skin assessment and the personal contact with me. I check each assessment and examine every photo sent to me before providing a tailor- made skin regime.”

Another concern of the online shopper is having peace of mind that their personal details will not be used fraudulently. A recognised and secure payment gateway is essential. “We have gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of our customers’ details at SkinMiles.com, by putting various security measures in place,” says Dr Nikolic. Their website is Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted and uses a strong protocol version and cipher suite. Credit card payments are processed on a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS) compliant gateway with 3D secure transactions, where users require a One Time Pin (OTP) to complete the transaction.

SkinMiles.com has sourced high end skincare products from around the world and made it available online to South Africans. “Being part of SkinMiles.com allows our brand, Dermaceutic, to be made widely available to the end consumer,” says Justine Campbell, director of Conquest Aesthetics, distributer of Dermaceutic. “It also enables our brand to be easily accessible to the consumer who can’t always have access the likes of doctor prescribed skincare products.”