7 eCommerce Trends to Keep in Mind During the Year Ahead

The eCommerce boom is real and, it turns out that lockdown was the little ‘nudge’ that South African consumers needed to develop a crush for online shopping. In fact, eCommerce revenue in SA is estimated to reach R225-billion by 2025.


Here are some interesting trends to keep in mind now that eCommerce is really here:

1. Competition is heating up

The competition is now ‘on’ and unlike physical shops that are essentially only competing with their neighbours, online stores have a far wider competitive field. Your Gauteng online store will now be competing with the likes of Cape Town stores, and that funky Vellie shop in White River.

Thankfully, the flip side is also true. Your target audience is far bigger and can literally be “as big as you want it to be”. Sharpen your marketing efforts, customer service, products etc. to remain competitive!


2. Influencer marketing is set to grow

Influencers show your target audience exactly just how cool a product is by creating fun and engaging social media content about and around it. Yes, you can try to create similar content yourself, but it will never ever be the same and you haven’t yet built up your followers. Besides, the fact is, customers generally don’t like companies to brag about themselves. Influencers, on the other hand, have built up a reputation for themselves as an expert in a particular niche field. Their followers trust their judgement and product or store referrals.


3. Greener more sustainable shopping is important

Caring about the planet is cool. eCommerce, in a sense, supports the green movement. Customers are looking to support brands that adopt this movement in one form or another. How can your business become ‘greener’? Did you know there is such a thing as plant-able packaging? How does knowing this effect how you packaging will look? Are your products sustainable, and if not, can they become so? These are the types of things you need to be thinking about.


4. Consumers want to see their favourite payment option

It took a pandemic to push more consumers towards eCommerce, however a payment gateway can still take the joy out of online shopping. While consumers are now more confident shopping online, they are very aware of the growing risk of cyber-crimes. If they do not see their tried and tested payment gateway at the point of checkout, they may very well leave your website. Hence, it may be a good idea to load as many of the more well-known payment gateways in South Africa into your store.


5. Multi-channel commerce with an omni-channel feel

The mobile market is growing, as many as 23% of online shoppers are now doing their shopping via mobile phones. Another type of shopping channel that is also growing in popularity is social commerce. People prefer browsing on their favourite channels, so are they likely to come across you? Whether they conclude the purchase there or via desktop doesn’t really matter, does it? Strike while the iron is hot and make sure your products are shoppable on multiple channels.

Omni-channel, on the other hand refers to a company’s ability to interact with a customer on various channels in order to improve the overall shopping experience, seamlessly. - Multi-channel = separate platforms. - Omni-channel = an integrated experience across multiple channels

A great example of an omni-channel experience that could get a 10/10 rating, is along the lines of this example:

A potential shopper browses shoes on your site via their smartphone. When surfing the internet later-on their desktop, a digital display ad of the shoes they viewed previously appears. This prompts them to enquire about sizing and availability through Instagram, where a sales assistant in the brick and mortar store responds to their enquiry.


6. Marketplaces are huge

Successful eCommerce has various touch points, however, the most important of all of these is customer convenience! Backend infrastructure such as fast, reliable and secure eCommerce website hosting, directly supports this goal as it will make the shopping experience quick and easy. But this is only the beginning. Marketplaces like Takealot are delivering on ‘convenience’ all the way from individual stores right to your door! As this trend gains more momentum, it could be a good idea to list your products for sale here as well.


7. Subscription eCommerce is picking up

It is one thing to reel in a once-off customer, and a completely different thing to keep them coming back regularly. What is the trick? There are many variables for this, but subscription eCommerce has found a way around it. Think Wine of the Month Club and Box Fashion that have both turned their eCommerce into an exclusive membership that they can offer their discounted products to. Customers are sent parcels monthly or at various convenient intervals and, as the company has had a prolonged time to impress and gain trust, their brand loyalty and product excitement is almost certainly a ‘given’.

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