by MarkLives (@marklives) What roles do brands play in today’s world of ecommerce? How does this impact on how consumers choose products? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on South Africa’s ecommerce market. Next up is Ryan Bacher of NetFlorist.

NetFlorist logoRyan Bacher (@ryanbacher) is managing director and co-founder of NetFlorist, which launched in 1999. It leverages global sourcing to enable customers to send bouquets, arrangements, gifts, perfumes and a wide range of quality jewellery and watches to loved ones, friends and associates, both locally and around the world.

MarkLives logoHow is ecommerce impacting on how consumers choose products?
Ryan Bacher:
Ecommerce has created a platform that provides ease of access to consumers, allowing them to search for what they are looking for directly, anywhere and anytime. With so many e-tailers to choose from, the consumer has access to a virtual shopping mall online, conveniently from the comfort of their own home or office. Ecommerce is helping consumers to compare information on the desired product. Instead of the inconvenience of driving or walking from store to store, they now have unlimited information on the product, from price and product descriptions to reviews from another consumer. Consumers are therefore less likely to buy impulsively because of the direct search that they’re able to access. The good news for e-tailers, though, is that consumers are more likely to spend a bit more to have that convenience factor, and there is always the option of showing recommended products that match the product already up for purchase. Even if a retailer doesn’t have an escommerce platform, it’s important for brick and mortar stores to have a website to showcase their products so that consumers can see what is available to them, should they visit the store.

For a brand like NetFlorist, it makes sense to buy online because customers are not only paying for a product; they are paying for the convenience and the emotion behind the gift ie getting the gift delivered with the surprise factor, in a decorated van by a smiling delivery [person] without having to go in-store to achieve this. We are also able to deliver nationwide, so consumers can conveniently place an order from one city to be delivered to another city.

MarkLives logoWhat should brand managers know about online retail through online marketplaces (such as and similar local operations)?
Online marketplaces have been a huge enabler for smaller retailers to sell their products online. Amazon leads in this space, but Takealot (South Africa) havs such an offering and, as far as we know, it is working well for most of the retailers who are on it. [This] also allows the marketplace (Amazon, Takealot etc) to offer a wider range of product without initially holding stock. NetFlorist has decided to make and deliver all our own product, so we don’t play in the marketplace space, nor do we invite retailers to list their products on out site. We are of the view that, as gifting is such an emotional experience that requires on time and accurate delivery, we must be in control of the full process ourselves. There are some gifting sites overseas and locally that offer a marketplace but it’s not our strategy to do so.

MarkLives logoHow may a brand optimise its presence in these online retail spaces to make it easy for consumers to find and access their products?
The most-basic requirement is to have an official desktop site that works alongside a mobile site or application. For NetFlorist, SEO (search engine optimisation) is a massive factor in optimising our online presence. By making use of Adwords and GDN (Google Display Network) banners, we have increased traffic to our site, as well as our online visibility.

Our blog, The Rambling Rose, has boosted our online presence significantly, and allowed us to not only share featured products but also engage with consumers, share content and have an overall successful digital footprint. Alongside this, we consistently maintain all of our social media pages and use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to interact with our consumers and create product awareness.

Retargeting and remarketing have also been a factor in our success. For an existing consumer who has been to our site, we will remarket goods that they have looked at by showing them these products on other sites that they visit. This keeps NetFlorist top of mind.

Mobile has made online buying quicker and more convenient. The more devices you have, the easier it is to access stores, which translates to more purchases. This will again allow customers the opportunity to compare prices and reviews. You can instantly research a product from the palm of your hand and find it at a store nearest to you at that moment, bringing in another factor of convenience.

Consumers are now also able to shop via social media. Facebook now offers a marketplace option and, according to a study done in January 2018 by Statista, 95.1% of Facebook users are predominantly browsing on mobile whereas 31.8% of users are using desktop. This means people have even more platforms to shop from. For offline buying, mobile will make it easy to compare prices. This could lead to a consumer researching in-store, finding the same product for cheaper elsewhere, and therefore leaving the store or getting the better deal.

See also


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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