Online shopping growth in SA is stalled by badly designed websites

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As the international trend of shopping online is slowly reaching out to all the corners of the globe, South Africans have been notoriously skeptical of clicking on their virtual wallets rather than sticking their fingers in actual purses.

But the problem with the perception and growth of online shopping  in South Africa might not actually lie with change-resistant consumers, but rather with merchant who don’t fully understand the processes involved.

“We hear the same old arguments all the time. Consumers take a long time to feel comfortable about shopping online, South Africans like to touch and feel before buying, and so on. But instead of focussing on what we think is wrong with consumers, maybe we in the industry should focus on how we can serve them better instead,” said PayGate’s Brendon Williamson is a press statement.

There is an old saying of ‘don’t trust a business with a bad website’, and Williamson adds that badly designed retail websites do actually play a role in changing perceptions about online shopping – and we should learn from it.

“Many, many small online retailers have come and gone. That’s to be expected in a new industry, but we should learn the lessons. Consumers are suspicious of poorly designed websites, so merchants need to invest time and money on professional design services. This is one case where more money on the frills does mean more money at the tills.”

He used the example of online retailer YuppieChef who just announced that they will be expanding into six different African countries.

“There have been some spectacular successes like YuppieChef. When our big, established retailers finally learn to be as nimble, effective and service-oriented as these online-only retailers, things can really start to take off.”

While the experience of shopping online is incredibly important, the way in which customers pay is just as vital. Williamson pointed out that not many South Africans have access to a credit card, so websites need to investigate different ways for potential customers to pay for the goods that they want to buy.

“In the US, consumers have an average of three to six credit cards each. In South Africa, it’s less than two per household, and a large proportion of consumers don’t qualify for credit cards. That isn’t going to change anytime soon, so we need to be innovative in offering consumers other secure ways to pay.”

[Source – PayGate, Image – Shutterstock]



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