“Act now or get left behind”
By Max Bellotto
Having been deeply entrenched and immersed in the e-commerce industry for several years it’s astounding how little attention big businesses give to their e-commerce strategy. For many years I have witnessed how e-commerce has somehow and inexplicably landed up towards the bottom of the list in round table discussions. Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is that e-commerce can no longer be ignored as a major sales channel opportunity.
Forecasts by World Wide Worx for the next five years, from 2016 to 2020, show online retail sales almost exactly doubling over this period. Further proof of the shift of how well online is doing was evident in the events that transpired during the Black Friday sale in 2016.
Online retailers in South Africa adopted Black Friday as an opportunity to boost sales and much sought after brand awareness after it was introduced in South Africa in 2014 by Checkers as a pure retail opportunity.
It wasn’t long into Black Friday before many leading online retailers sites started crashing not being able to cope with the sheer volume of orders. This even included the Banks 3D secure systems. Despite the setbacks, online sales way exceeded market expectations.
The same was true for the popular brand Pandora, who manufacture and market hand-finished and contemporary jewellery. Not only was the Black Friday sale an incredible success but all their seasonal one day flash sales have resulted in online being by far their leading sales channel outperforming all their popular retail outlets. Launched in early 2016 by Digital Planet, Pandora have experienced incredible online success with an average growth in sales of 51% month on month over the last 10 months.
Retail giants Pick n Pay announced in April last year that its online sales surged by 38% in the past year, far outstripping group-wide turnover growth of 8,2% in the 52 weeks ended 1 March 2016.
There is little doubt that 2016 was filled with online success stories and early ecommerce adopters who invested in e-commerce are starting to reap the rewards. There was a clear and evident shift during 2016 and a line has been drawn in the sand. Major brands and retailers will need to prioritise e-commerce in 2017 as they have already been left behind.