Research indicates that online commerce is set to grow in South Africa, the speed and extent of that growth will be dependent on several factors, with payment as one of the most crucial.
Getting online payments right will play a role both in encouraging existing online shoppers to buy more, and to tempt offline shoppers online.
A key characteristic of online commerce in South Africa—and in Africa more generally—is the centrality of mobile commerce.
Research by the online fashion retailer, Spree, in 2017 indicated that the number of respondents preferring to use a mobile phone to shop had increased by 167 percent over the 2015 figure. Apps will thus power online shopping going forward, making the penetration of smartphones a critical consideration for online retailers.
Winning online payment solutions will therefore have to include mobile.
As regards payment, research from Effective Measure shows that there is overwhelming preference for either credit cards (45 percent) or debit cards (21 percent), with bank transfer the next-biggest category (20 percent).
The Effective Measure survey confirms the important of payment to online commerce. It finds that the biggest barriers to shopping online include a trusted payment solution and a better experience on the website. For online shoppers a trusted payment method was identified as a desirable improvement by 14 percent of respondents. For offline shoppers, a lack of trust in online payments was the top deterrent to shopping online (20 percent).
All indications are that South Africa’s e-commerce market is set for strong growth. But the big winners will be those online retailers who create payment solutions that inspire confidence but that also enhance the customer experience.
By Moath Ismail, VP Digital Banking for CISMEA, Gemalto