E-commerce is a total must in a world gone digital.
Offering customers an opportunity to buy your goods or services online has a wide range of advantages, from broadening your audience to being able to use analytics to track who buys what, when.
“There is a perception that setting up an e-commerce site is expensive, but there are different ways of doing it and a basic site can be done quickly and affordably,” says Flow business manager Roy Barford.
“It’s absolutely essential these days and each business is different. Get in touch with us and we can discuss the benefits and costs. Also, there are various payment models.”
Flow has extensive experience in setting up e-commerce sites, with one of the most notable being the online ticketing system for Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium in 2010.
Our most recent example is a new website for Trust My Travel, a United Kingdom-based company that provides 100% financial protection to travel companies and their customers. Since Flow updated the Trust My Travel website and e-commerce system in 2020, it has processed £100-million (about R2-billion at the time of writing) in transactions.
Covid-19 has changed shopping forever
The Covid-19 pandemic has forever changed online shopping behaviour, according to a survey by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).
Unctad questioned about 3 700 consumers in nine emerging and developed economies, finding that consumers in emerging economies like South Africa have made the sharpest switch to shopping online. Its Covid-19 and E-commerce survey polled people from South Africa, Brazil, China, Turkey, Russia, South Korea, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
More than half of the survey’s respondents said they shop online more frequently since the onset of the pandemic and rely on the internet more for news, health-related information and digital entertainment.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world. The changes we make now will have lasting effects as the world economy begins to recover,” says Unctad Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.
Convenience, convenience, convenience
In the property sector, the watchword is “location”; in the digital world, it’s convenience. Having an e-commerce site gives your customers and clients the convenience of buying your goods and services at a time that suits them.
It’s handy for shopkeepers and business owners, too. Online shopping delivers information you would previously have had to guess at: demographics on who your shoppers are, where they live and what they are interested in, details about when they shop, what items they look at and what goods and services they actually put their hard-earned money into.
E-commerce sites can also be coded to track your inventory, alerting you to imminent stock shortages, says Roy. Flow can even include coding that links your business directly to a courier service, alerting it automatically to parcels it needs to collect and deliver. It’s like having a set of your very own Santa elves working for you.
Ticket to success
For tourism ventures, e-commerce can add a new win – it’s been found that when people buy site tickets online ahead of time, they “forget” about that cash layout when they actually set foot on your premises. This can lead to visitors spending more in curio shops and restaurants, says Roy.
Catering for online ticket purchases, as Flow did a decade ago for the Two Oceans Aquarium, and for City Sightseeing, also allows you to reduce customers’ waiting times, which is important generally, and especially now that people are less keen on crowds. It also means you can lower your overheads, because you need fewer ticket booth staff and don’t have to manually print tickets.
All in all, e-commerce is your ticket to success. Hop on board.