Are South Africans satisfied with their online shopping experience?
by Carey Finn (@carey_finn) If South African consumers are happy with their online shopping experience, they’re likely to tell their friends and family about it. But this potential brand advocacy hinges on retailers being able to provide an exceptional customer experience — something which doesn’t happen often enough.
Digital CX report
This is according to the 2020 South African Digital Customer Experience Report, the second annual collaborative research effort by marketing and advertising agency, Rogerwilco; market research provider, ovatoyou; and customer experience (CX) professional, Julia Ahlfeldt.
For Charlie Stewart, Rogerwilco CEO, the willingness of local customers to share positive online shopping experiences is the standout insight from the research. Of the 2 000 respondents, 75% indicate they would tell their friends and family, while 43% say they would share their experience on social media (an increase from 37% in 2019). In comparison, just 56% say they would share negative online shopping experiences with friends and family, and 32% would post about these experiences on social media.
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“This concept of advocacy is something brands have spoken about for years but I was surprised at the level to which people are willing to share news of good experiences,” says Stewart. “Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of emphasis on people’s willingness to share negative stories, and social media has become a sort of echo chamber where we only talk about the bad things, so that made [the result] particularly surprising.” He speculates that the change could be related to the covid-19 pandemic, and an increased propensity to share good news in a period that’s understood to be challenging for all. However, this would only be able to be confirmed with the 2021 report.
For brands, better advocacy hinges on being able to provide a digital experience which is smooth and pleasant. According to the report, more than R1bn in local programmatic advertising is likely being lost to fraud and service fees; redirecting this to improve the digital customer experience could be far more profitable in the long term, increasing brand loyalty. This would involve addressing pain points in the shopping journey, which commonly include slow websites or apps, a lack of customer support, inadequate product information, unreliable payment solutions, and delivery issues.
Stewart breaks down the fixes for retailers looking to enhance their online customer experience: “There are two different elements here: the first is making sure you get your housekeeping right. Having a fast website is essential and it’s very easy, in these days of elastic cloud-hosting services and hosting optimisation products, to deliver a seamless user journey online — yet brands continue to get that wrong.” Accurate, detailed product information is just as important, he adds. “People are doing 90% of the job; they’re providing the basics but they’re not delivering the detail.”
The second element is a broader, structural one. “I think this is where there’s real complexity with ecommerce,” he says. “We still have difficulties with shipping, for example, making sure that we’re able to get products from A to B, and then there are challenges with inventory management. Although there are algorithms that should enable brands to predict with a fairly certain degree of accuracy what demand will be, which will allow them to replenish stock, we’re still not at the point where we’re able to accommodate surges, or able to accurately understand where demand is coming from.”
The very first thing that a business should focus on, though?
Making its ecommerce mobile-first, says Stewart. “Across Africa as a whole, we’re seeing about 80% of ecommerce payments being handled on mobile devices. This isn’t news to anybody; we’ve been talking mobile-first for a long time. But it’s still incredibly frustrating when you get to the checkout section of a website and suddenly the screen resorts to this tiny series of boxes that you need to insert information into. That, for me, is a fundamental breaking point.”
Carey Finn (@carey_finn) is a writer and editor with over decade and a half of industry experience, having covered everything from ethical sushi in Japan to the technicalities of roofing, agriculture, medical stuff and more. She’s also taught English and journalism, and dabbled in various other communications ventures along the way, including risk reporting. She is a contributing writer to MarkLives.com.