File picture: Independent Media

CAPE TOWN - E-commerce in South Africa is still seen as an developing market as online sales only contribute to approximately 1% to total retail sales.

However, Woolworths says that it is has experienced the benefits of focusing on going digital as with their online clothing sales have been increasing over 100% between July 2016 and June 2017.

“Results such as this demonstrate a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour, specifically for Woolies. This kind of growth in a strained trading environment is remarkable, says Liz Hillock, Head of Online at Woolworths.

In The Times / Sowetan 2017 Shopper Survey,  Woolworths was ranked the best online shopping platform. “Mobile is an important part of our digital strategy. More than 50% of the traffic to Woolworths.co.za is already coming from customers browsing on their mobile phone and this year alone we have also seen over 100% growth in mobile transactions,” says Hillock.

Woolworths launched its updated App on Android and iOS. The app is so popular,  it trended in the top 10 for over a week in App stores. For this year, it resulted in a 166% growth in app registrations. 

“This is the start of our App journey, but we already have seen a significant increase in active users on this latest version of our app. The app provides our customers with daily inspiration for Food and Fashion which influencers their on- and off-line purchasing behaviour.  There is no doubt that mobile will lead the way towards an omni-channel retail experience,” adds Hillock. 

“However, our technology investments are not focused only on the e-commerce experience, but also to the in-store experience. Woolies has launched free WiFi to over 175 stores around the country.

Plus, we’re trialing an in-store stock locator in our latest App upgrade. Our customers want to be connected on-the-go and this investment helps to create a shopping community that is connected, with easy access to products and information,” adds Hillock.

“This total retail experience is becoming more important to customers, which is why we offer a range of quality shopping experiences to cater to those needs, be they online or in-store.. The investment has resulted in a strong food and fashion business online, and one which continues to grow rapidly,” concludes Hillock. 

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE