Business Partners regional manager David Morobe has urged small business owners to embrace e-commerce in order to grow their market share and reach younger consumers.
DURBAN - A forecast by World Wide Worx shows that online retail sales figures in South Africa are expected to more than double from 2016 to almost R20 billion by 2020.

This makes it important for South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the retail sector to consider entering the e-commerce space, which is poised for growth as millennials and the digital natives of Generation Z begin to make up an increasingly large portion of consumers.

This is according to David Morobe, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited, who says SMEs with wholesale/retail operations made up the largest non-financial sector in South Africa, according to the 2018 State Entrepreneurship Survey.

“As consumers continue to demand that most things be available at the click of the mouse, small business owners should start considering how they can innovate and adapt to remain competitive, not only with other small businesses but also with large corporates.”

Morobe offered these tips for SMEs when planning an e-commerce platform:

Build and run a professional platform. A website is an essential asset for any business; however, if you decide to add an e-commerce element, you will need to ensure this runs smoothly with up-to-date software. The site must include a shopping cart where items will be placed by users before they check out.

Create content. Take professional photographs of products you plan to sell online and use copy that is informative and enticing on a site designed to be attention-grabbing.

Consider new roles in the company. As the online world never sleeps, a business that has an online offering needs to be running full-time. Consider hiring digitally trained professionals who will be able to co-ordinate these online business tasks and assist with any day-to-day issues.

Create a secure payment option and delivery strategy. Users need to be sure that the e-commerce site is a safe space to input personal details. A good option is to use an online payment service which allows businesses to accept credit card transactions and payments safely. Retail SMEs should have security to mitigate cyber threats, including phishing, hacking and credit card fraud.

Privacy is key. Develop a privacy policy which is displayed on the website. The policy should include how the users’ data will be stored, collected and used, with an option to opt out of email marketing or newsletters in line with the Protection of Personal Information Act.