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    E-commerce in SA is on track to surpass R100bn by 2026

    With online retail expected to make up 10% of overall national retail sales in the next three years, Laurian Venter, sales director at OneDayOnly.co.za, says that to accelerate further, e-tailers will need to continue evolving and innovating.
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    South Africa's online retail sector is booming, surging by 29% and on track to surpass R100 billion by 2026. This growth is fuelled by compelling online deals, innovative customer engagement strategies, and a wider range of secure payment options.

    But South Africans aren't just window-shopping anymore; they're actively spending online – shelling out five times more online than they do in brick-and-mortar stores.

    “This is critical if they want to compete with the immediacy and tactile experience of shopping in-store that still has a hold on consumers.”

    A key trend she sees advancing e-commerce is next-level personalisation.

    “E-tailers are already leveraging AI and data analytics to deliver customised product recommendations. This goes beyond purchase history; AI can analyse interests gleaned from social media profiles and Google searches to predict future buying behaviour.”

    “While this technology is currently underutilised, with only 6,5% of companies using it, AI has the power to personalise every step of the e-commerce experience at scale and make it not only convenient but memorable. For instance, it could predict when consumers will need everyday essentials, like shampoo or washing powder, and remind them to stock up before they even realise they’re running low.”

    Venter emphasises that AI's influence on e-commerce is just beginning.

    “As this technology advances, its capabilities will become even more powerful. Businesses that embrace it will be well-equipped to meet the ever-increasing demands of shoppers, which is crucial when one considers that customer reviews influence 77% of online purchases.”

    Gamification is another trend poised to propel e-commerce's popularity.

    “’Retailtainment’ is a fusion of retail and entertainment, which aims to entertain, educate, and engage customers, fostering a more enjoyable and immersive online shopping experience. Additionally, research has shown that gamification not only boosts purchase intent but also strengthens customer loyalty, especially among younger demographics.”

    “The adoption of these and other trends by e-tailers positions online retail for further growth. This is especially true considering e-commerce's resilience in the face of declining traditional retail sales over the past year, a trend I believe will lead to online retail’s dominance in the near future,” concludes Venter.

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