2020 Online retail revenue in South Africa more than doubled in the short space of two years as a direct consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. While certain industries were especially hard hit by the pandemic, industries that were either already in an online trading space, or able to pivot to digital, captured opportunities that saw some businesses flourish.
Growth in certain channels has continued to accelerate, primarily food delivery, fashion retail and health and beauty. According to research conducted by World Wide Worx, 2021 growth in online is expected to exceed the 30% growth of 2019, fuelled largely by newcomers to shopping online.
Those merchants that are still or yet to migrate into ecommerce are dealing with challenges from how to convert customers to online; how to assure the customer to trust them in their online purchases; overcoming communication obstacles; and delivering a virtual service aligned with the in-store experience. From a customer perspective, resistance to shopping online covers cyber security concerns; desire for flexibility in payment methods; the processing of returns; and future transaction checkout time improvement.
Retailers that have succeeded in growing their online sales channels unilaterally agree that their ongoing success is attributed at least in part to fundamental building blocks that support their ecommerce strategies:
Demanding the convenience to shop 24/7, consumers increasingly expect retailers to meet them where they are and deliver a virtual shopping experience that provides unilateral convenience. This expectation can only be met if uptime protocols are established and consistently met by service providers, to ensure ecommerce website and payment portal pages are available whenever a customer wishes to transact.
Online payments providers (including Ecentric) are responding accordingly, providing active-active payment environments to ensure online payment availability 24/7. In an active-active environment, should one payment location fail for any reason, the backup location automatically steps in, with the ecommerce retailer none the wiser. (Ecentric’s active-active environment is achieved through its primary and backup online payment processing locations in Cape Town and Johannesburg.)
High conversion rates
Growth in both online conversion volumes and shopper basket value constitute the proverbial holy grail of online retailers. Targeting the reasons for cart abandonment is a vital step in achieving this goal.
Cart abandonment is ascribed globally to several factors including the need to create a new user account (despite visiting the same website on multiple occasions to purchase online) and over-complicated checkout processes. While some retailers prefer not to store customer payment details, requiring re-entry on subsequent visits to conclude checkout, translates into avoidable numbers of keystrokes for the online customer.
Tokenisation and significant advances in online security have fundamentally changed the customer checkout experience. This now industry standard feature enables a customer to create an account and enter card details once only. These details are then securely stored in their account profile on the online shop. Where customers prefer not to store their card information, retailers are enabling payment by instant EFT, digital wallets and other alternate payment methods. As one of the primary reasons for cart abandonment on the ecommerce landscape, card tokenisation protocols from online payment industry leaders such as Ecentric have fundamentally improved the online shopping experience for many retailers.
Granular view of transactions
Bank settlement of successful online transactions are transferred to the retailer in bulk, with the responsibility generally falling to the finance department to reconcile the settlement amounts to the transaction totals produced within the retailers’ ecommerce and/or POS system. This reconciliation requires the swift determination of discrepancies in bank settlements at a transaction level, for differences or errors to be successfully and timeously resolved. A dependency on manual reconciliation processes translates to prolonged lapses of time before discrepancies can be followed up and resolved, potentially introducing bottlenecks into a merchant’s ecommerce sales channel.
Leading retailers are achieving faster turnaround times in resolving discrepancies through automation of the reconciliation process, achieved through the implementation of automated reconciliation solutions. At Ecentric, we support this efficiency through ReconAssistTM. Processing transactions overnight, it delivers a granular view of transaction exceptions for resolution. The software supports many retailers in their transactional reconciliation for bank cards and alternate payment methods.
Ecentric Payment Systems is a one stop, omnichannel payments solution provider. Our online payment solution offers secure checkout, high shopper conversion rates and near 100% uptime. Our service confers payments across all digital channels, easy pay out for sellers and partners, one-click recurring subscription payments and has the feature to send out payment links for single platform invoice collections – all within a secure environment, with the added bonus of reconciliation at transaction level.