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How to grow your online store in 5 steps

Growing a small or mid-sized online store into a significant market player takes time, the right strategy, and consumer trust. Photo: Leon Lestrade.

Growing a small or mid-sized online store into a significant market player takes time, the right strategy, and consumer trust. Photo: Leon Lestrade.

Published Jun 6, 2022


Johannesburg – If you have spent any significant amount of time on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram you would have surely come across an online boutique of some sort.

These online stores, which can sell everything from make-up and electronic gadgets to the latest fashion items, are a great way to start a business.

The low overheads and the already-established platforms provide would-be entrepreneurs with the tools necessary to start their own businesses.

But starting a business is the easy part; how do you grow and sustain it?

Joshua Shimkin, head of SME growth and marketing at Peach Payments, says growing a small or mid-sized e-commerce store into a significant market player takes time, the right strategy, and, most importantly, consumer trust.

Deloitte Digital’s report, Digital Commerce Acceleration: Increased online purchases present new opportunities for digital commerce players, reveals that the number of online shoppers in South Africa is expected to grow from 22 million in 2020, to 32 million by 2024.

While online shopping volumes are soaring overall, the report found certain key factors influenced shoppers' support of a store.

The report finds shoppers’ concerns are mostly related to issues of trust. Consumers grapple with questions about whether or not their data is in safe hands? Will the company deliver as promised? And will it offer the expected returns and refunds?

A top concern of 86% of respondents was the security of online payments, with 88% saying that being able to transact effectively at checkout was an influencing factor when choosing an online store.

Security and the ability to easily make payments play a big role in influencing buying behaviour, and will continue to do so as more consumers move online.

Shimkin says: “To scale your online business and keep customers coming back, you have to have a responsive site that’s easy to navigate, but most importantly, you have to make it safe and easy for them to conclude their purchases. You need a payment gateway that accommodates a vast array of payment methods, and a smooth checkout experience.”

He lists five ways to help take your online business to the next level:

1. Future-proof your payments gateway to accommodate as many payment methods as possible, including Mastercard, Visa, Mobicred, Masterpass, Instant EFT, 1Voucher, Apple Pay, with integrations into Shopify, Wix, Magento, and WooCommerce.

2. Check your payment gateway’s track record on support, payment success, and retry functionality (which means your customers can try different payment methods if they choose without retyping their details) – a small difference in the payments success rate can mean a major difference in return customers and overall revenue.

3. As the world becomes your marketplace, ensure you are able to accept debit and credit cards from anywhere in the world.

4. Make sure your payment gateway is as responsive, secure, and easy to use on mobile devices as it is on laptops or PCs.

5. Build trust by assuring delivery and returns as promised, through a partnership with a reputable courier; and by being always-on and responsive to queries and complaints via the channel of your customer’s choice – phone, email or WhatsApp – seven days a week.