Shopping Online in South Africa: Part One
I recently started shopping online for things other than band t-shirts, concert tickets and DVDs. Now I know this is nothing new, but in South Africa it's still a bit of a novelty that deserves to be taken seriously.
Local merchants haven’t been well represented online until recently, and payment systems have always been a bit of a problem.
In this two part look at e-Commerce, we’ll be tackling a few important elements to a successful site (part one), followed by a study (part two) of the following three South African online stores:
What Makes A Good Online Retail Site?
Let’s take a look at what elements make up a good e-Commerce site:
Keeping it simple
If your site isn’t user-friendly – just like having insolent or incompetent staff in a physical store – you’re product simply isn’t going to leave the shelf.
- Keeping down the number of clicks from entry to checkout.
- Outlining the next step in the buying process.
- Keep registration forms uncomplicated.
- Keep basket/trolley visible at all times (including number of items).
- Employing breadcrumb links.
- Using logical URL structures.
In store stability
An easy to navigate site is important for the user, but it needs to be built on a strong foundation. A website that crashes can lose a lot of customers. Security and authority are ultra important – whether potential customers are aware of it or not. One security breach can ruin the reputation of an online store.
- Valid W3C coding.
- Ensuring that the site fits in all the popular screen resolutions and browsers.
- Avoiding popups and element which may require users download software.
- A full Flash site probably isn’t a good idea.
- SSL Security to ensure safe transactions.
- Make sure your server is capable of handling the site.
Keeping it dynamic
From a user perspective, a predictable experience is crucial in building trust and credibility – but making those shelves interesting with new products, promotions and other specials is also essential when enticing customers.
- Utilising the space ‘above the fold’
- Split information into recognizable sections
- Use that CMS wisely, and include fresh content and product information.
- Allow users to ‘view all’ products, depending on category (e.g. sale items, new range etc).
Something that can really help sell products (and give the shop owner the opportunity to know what to do to sell more products) is social commentary. By giving users a chance to review products, make comments or have full discussions, there’s more chance for sales.
- Send to a friend option.
- Social media chiclets
- Product reviews.
- Extended information and consumer discussion.
Make it easy for the user to pay, before they have a chance to change their mind. Offer various payment methods to generate as many sales as possible – and also remember to show the user how far along the process they are.
- Remember to include a thank you page or email notification – also a good place for newsletter sign ups, ‘send to a friend’ options and cross-selling.
Remember to look out for the case study of our three South African sites next week!
Update*: You can check out Part Two here.