SAITEX (the Southern African International Trade Exhibition), one of the continent's biggest retail goods trade fair, will host a three-day conference exploring online retailing from 16-18 July 2012 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg.
The Online Retail in SA 2011 Study, conducted by World Wide Worx last year, shows that online retail sales in South Africa surpassed R2-billion for the first time in 2010, reaching R2.03-billion. This is a 30% increase over the previous year's online retail sales. If similar growth occurs, the figure could top R2.9-billion by the end of 2012.
"Online retail in South Africa is big business and it's growing in a phase of sustained acceleration," says SAITEX organiser John Thomson. "New research by the Boston Consulting Group predicts that South Africa's Internet economy will double from R51 billion in 2011, to R103 billion in 2016. The question is, what proportion of this will comprise online retail sales."
The conference speaker programme features a number of leading online experts who will provide delegates with strategies and techniques for capitalising a web presence in most business sectors.
One of the speakers is Justin Drennan, co-founder and CEO of one of South Africa's biggest online stores, Wantitall.co.za. He will talk on the 'Current Position of Online Retail in South Africa'.
"Our business experienced strong growth last year; turnover generally increases by 10 to 15% year-on-year," says Drennan. But with more players entering the space, the online business has become a lot more competitive over the last few years. Marketing costs have also increased dramatically, which means businesses have to rely on more inventive methods to acquire customers.
"Unless companies are willing to spend serious money, or have a large brand to leverage, they should expect a tough time online." He is cautiously optimistic about future growth, despite growing competition in the local e-commerce market.
Other topics he will cover include the state of the overseas market compared to South Africa, the current role of mobile in e-commerce, best channels, sales drivers, trust and payment, trends and the future of e-commerce.
Jaco Jonker, CEO of South Africa's largest online marketplace, bidorbuy, will highlight trends impacting online retailing and explore how his online operation brings buyers and sellers together.
"One of the latest emerging trends is the growing number of people logging onto bidorbuy using mobile devices, tablets and smartphones," says Jonker. "Mobile is now a way of life for individuals and businesses - it took ten years for e-commerce to become mainstream, while m-commerce is expected to accomplish this in about three years."
Other speakers include Amanda Cromhout, MD of Truth Marketing, Brendon Williamson, CEO of Intercept Risk, Craig Ballantyne, MD of Fastmoving, and Leon Lategan, MD of Purple Cow Communications and Ryan Bacher, MD of NetFlorist.
Arthur Goldstuck, MD of Internet consultancy World Wide Worx, says that once people are experienced Internet users and go online regularly, their propensity to shop online increases dramatically. "There are currently 4-million Internet users in South Africa and this will increase to 6.8-million by 2015."
For more information on the conference, email Danie Herbst at .
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