Post-COVID e-commerce business drivers for small businesses.
The Daily Maverick reported radical changes in revenues during March and April 2020 for Woolworths, blue-chip South African retailer.
“Demand for the food division (up by over 17%) has normalised to pre-COVID growth rates (7.2%), but the clothing division and the Country Road group crashed by 61.4% and 50.4% respectively, due to store closures”.
In spite of the general trend, online sales continue to grow.
Customers are currently buying essentials and doing so online.
We can further assume that revenues for non-essential items will remain under pressure for a very long time.
That does not mean that businesses cannot trade in luxury or essential products, but marketing will have to be targeted for niche products into shrinking markets.
We can conclude that small businesses will have to adjust business models from traditional structures and overheads, towards primarily online e-commerce models or at least hybrid models with low overheads.
People have become used to the interconnectivity we have from technology. Accelerated, increased online trading will essentially remain after COVID. The rate at which people are adopting technology to shop during lockdown is paving the way for the sustained development of e-commerce in South Africa.
The upside is an opportunity for small businesses to compete online, subject to good execution.
Evaluating and understanding the most important drivers for a successful e-commerce presence is important for every small business.
What are the important e-commerce drivers and success factors to consider?
1. Social media marketing.
Marketing of products and services utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Email campaigns, Blogging and others are all critical. It is perhaps the most essential factors in e-commerce and the most misunderstood. Many small business operators think it is about posting and boosting a post or just simply adding to an organic network.
It is much more than that and is perhaps the one area where professional assistance is required to target the right audience with the right message for a product. An e-commerce presence without effective social media marketing processes is as good as a traditional retail store in the desert without any foot traffic.
2. Build a functional relevant e-commerce online platform.
An e-commerce online environment should be engineered and built with the customer in mind. Gone are the days when it was all about flashy videos and images without substance. It is about a professional look, yes, but mostly about simplicity for customers to browse, find products and buy. Simple, Quick and Effective, Convenient and Save.
Instore service is critical in a traditional business. With an e-commerce
business, order delivery and order status updates from the system to the customer are even more critical. With the reach of social media, any customer letdowns of any nature could destroy an e-commerce platform in no time, as customer complaints are there for all to read.
4. Product value and pricing.
Shrinking economies, reduced discretionary budgets generally requires that e-commerce traders select products carefully. The value proposition should be substantiated. These are important times for the right product to the right customer at the right price.
Even more important than any of the other factors listed is to create trust with prospective and current customers. A trust relationship must be established with potential customers. This can be done by using a trusted credit card software facility. By adding a vibrant blog to a platform where product credibility is substantiated. Listing of testimonials. Highlighting return and privacy policies. Also by adding product reviews and media mentions.
6. Costing to develop an e-commerce platform.
When all of the above becomes daunting, excessive costs to have an e-commerce platform built could be crippling. Hosting and maintenance costs to facilitate the ever-changing nature of an e-commerce environment should be understood at the outset. CRITICAL is the inclusion of the cost of social marketing campaigns as mentioned above. The development team MUST be able to create relevant targeted and effective social media campaigns. Failing this, all the other factors will run into trouble.
Finally, Use a development company who can deliver on ALL the critical factors at a price in line with current economic circumstances.
FOR development and assistance, contact us at www.pro-ecommerce.com and have an effective e-commerce platform in no time at the right price.