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By James Bayhack – Director for sub-Saharan Africa at CM.com

Online shopping is something South African consumers have had to become more familiar with recently. While we’ve had eCommerce options before, locals haven’t adopted the technology as easily and quickly as other countries – until now. From ordering immune-boosting vitamins to a week’s worth of family groceries, more consumers are shopping online than ever before.

Our fear of the unknown has been taken over by our fear of the virus, and we’re becoming more comfortable with purchasing products and services digitally. Additionally, more South Africans are supporting local businesses rather than international retailers to jumpstart the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic – yet another reason for proactive companies to focus on personalised experiences and excellent customer service.

Let’s look at how the online shopping space is changing, key trends that have emerged in the sector and how retailers can use these techniques to stand out from the crowd.

 eCommerce,  mCommerce and personalisation  

According to Statista’s market and consumer data, the eCommerce industry in South Africa is expected to reach approximately R62m in revenue in 2020 and grow by 10% each year. And with a projected total of 31.6 million local users by 2024, it’s clear that online shopping is only going to become more commonplace as time goes on.

Global research also reveals that online shopping is shifting from desktop to mobile. Mobile commerce ( mCommerce) is on the rise, with mobile bringing in 46% of the sector’s revenue, compared to 25% from desktop and 9% from tablets.

And with Millennials checking their phones on average 150 times a day, this group of tech-savvy customers make up a massive chunk of online shoppers and are more likely to shop on their smartphones, out of sheer convenience.

But this 24/7 shopping capability has also led to increased customer expectations and demands. Adobe’s research shows that consumers have come to expect personalised experiences, with 80% being more likely to buy from retailers that offer these experiences and 63% willing to increase their spending with a brand if it emphasises personalisation.

A competitive advantage

What does this mean for local businesses looking for an edge?

It’s now much more likely that online shoppers will be interacting with your company from their smartphones and want you only to send them relevant, tailored content. Armed with this knowledge, you can work towards creating a unique and seamless mobile shopping experience that appeals to your customers.

However, as eCommerce becomes more competitive and online shoppers more finicky, partnering with a cloud communications expert that can help you to optimise customer service and improve customer satisfaction is something that will set your business apart.

By combining innovative messaging and data, a conversational cloud platform irons out every phase of the shopping journey, offering customers a mobile VIP treatment that will keep them coming back for more.