Mobile platforms, diversity of payment options and improved search facilities are some of the crucial areas for online retail in South Africa in 2013. The proliferation of smartphones means that the growth of e-commerce is not limited to computer-based internet penetration, as we see more shoppers buying from their mobile devices.
At the recent Mobile World Congress, several big manufacturers announced smartphones in the under R2000, or even under R1000 range. At the same time, service provides are coming up with more affordable data packages.
"For the auction site, this means that many South Africans in the lower income brackets will finally be able to take advantage of the lower prices that our sellers offer. The site is well positioned to accommodate this trend, having developed its mobisite and applications for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry 10," says Jaco Jonker, CEO of bidorbuy.co.za.
"We experienced a sharp increase in the number of shoppers using the site's Android app after it rolled out in November last year. It still has more visitors via the iPhone app, released earlier. However, given the number of South Africans who use Android-powered smartphones, shoppers with the Android app are set to soon surpass the ones with the iPhone app."
Currently, shopping via a mobile device accounts for more than 5% of the gross value of sales on the site and he would not be surprised if mobile sales double in the next few months. Search functionality improved
In 2013, the site will concentrate on fine-tuning its online payments offering and on improving its search functionality, as online shoppers want not only the ease of payment, but different payment methods too. This poses specific challenges for the site, because thousands of sellers sell their products on the site.
"The fast internet EFT payment tool called bobPay remains the most popular payment option on the site and we are always looking at ways to provide more payment options. Sellers with a proven track record are able to accept payment methods they would otherwise have no recourse to, such as credit cards and Discovery Miles," adds Jonker.
As for the ease and effectiveness of search, he believes that this will become an increasingly important testing ground for e-commerce and mobile commerce.
"Shoppers want to find what they are looking for quickly. We plan to devote much of 2013 responding to this need by innovating the way our sellers list their merchandise, so that shoppers can easily locate the item they want among more than 1.2 million currently listed on the site," he concludes.