Although online shopping in South Africa is a growing, it lags behind its peers in developing countries.
South Africa’s online shopping situation
Zeenat Moorad in Business Day describes online shopping in South Africa as less developed than other countries. He says it’s mainly because of delivery constraints, slow and expensive broadband and disparate online and in-store offerings.
Nevertheless, online shopping in South Africa has grown by 30% during 2013 (supermarket.co.za) compared to Bricks and Mortar retail that only grew by six percent. Also, the use of Smartphones grows exponentially in South Africa. South Africa only has 0.5% share of the global online shopping market. This is however set to change rapidly. 95% of South African own cell phones and worldwide PC ownership drops by 5% annually.
However, results from a study by Accenture showed that South Africans find purchasing using online or mobile more difficult than other countries. Consequently, after stores close, most shoppers will wait for the store to open the next morning. They will then purchase from their retailer rather than buy online at that retailer’s website.
South Africans also use their mobile phone more in the shop, to scan products, gather loyalty points and to receive real time promotions.
The retailers of South Africa should integrate their shops online and couch their online customers how to shop successfully online.
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Christopher Ratcliff in EConsultancy suggests that online fashion retailers should be helpful, flexible and clear about their return processes to ensure that they keep their customers. A return policy that is customer focus will not only help to keep your customers, but also win customers from your competitors.
Ways to reduce returns
Another way Christopher suggests to reduce returns is to help your customer to buy the correct size. A virtual fitting solution called Virtusize allows customers to compare the specific measurements of an item they are looking to buy with an item they already own.
It displays and overlays 2D silhouettes of both garments so customers can easily compare sizes. The customers can then choose the item that fit them best. This fitting solution may reduce the online returns for fashion retailers by 50%.
The Shoefitr app developed by Running Warehouse uses a database of internal shoe measurements, acquired using 3D imaging technology. It compares the size and shape of a shoe a shopper is currently wearing, to one she wants to buy. The returns of shoes due to size have reduced from 65% to 20% when customers use this app.
Innovations to reduce returns in the online fashion retail market may convince more customers to buy clothing and shoes online.
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Starting your own business takes more than getting money to cover your start up costs. Prospective business owners should consider the following costs of starting their own business:
Things that you should consider before starting a business
In the beginning the owner has often problems meeting his or her financial needs and has to live of savings. You may however manage the gap by:
- Preparing a household budget: Write down the amount of money that you have available and then estimate what your expenses will be;
- Identify the things that you really need such as food and housing and prioritize them;
- Cut down on the unneeded luxuries;
- Try get some money borrowed to help pay for your start-up costs of the business.
Risk of losing all one’s capital
The failure rate of SMEs is high and new business owners that fail may lose all their personal savings. Prospective business owners should carefully consider the financial risks involved when starting your own business. You should consider:
- Type of business: with a sole proprietor business (one man business), the business owner takes full responsibility for the assets and liabilities of the business – i.e. you may lose your house if your business can’t pay its bills. The responsibility of liability of a private company (Pty) is, on the other hand, proportionally shared by the shareholders.
- A well written business plan: to put your business idea in practice and to identify the possible weakness and strong points of your business to tackle the opportunities en threats of the market. A business plan is also required if you want draw investors or lend money from banks.
Long hours and hard work
A new business requires a lot of time and energy. In the beginning the business owner often has to do a lot of the work himself and may end up working eighteen hours a day for six or seven days a week without leave.
Initial lower quality of work
The long hours and hard work involved in starting a business can take its toll on the business owner’s family and social life.
Business owners often have to take decisions about things which they know little about. The knowledge that the success or failure of his business relies on the decisions that he has to make, can be very stressful for the business owner.
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