E- commerce retail is outgrowing traditional retail by double digit percentages year on year.
This raises valid questions.
Will e-commerce usurp traditional retail?
The short answer would be,yes, but only to a certain point. It is impossible to determine to what extent at this stage of e-commerce development. These two retail modalities will find their natural levels of co-existence at a point in the future. This is a dynamic and exciting time in the retail world’s history and we are living through it. The buying public are seeing the rapid evolution of e-retail and as the offerings grow, so is the confidence in using the services of e – retailers.
Let’s illustrate with some examples right here at home. Do you know anyone with an Amazon Kindle? If you do, chances are almost 100% that it was purchased online. South Africans that have bought the device sourced it locally on line. The majority of people we have spoken to purchased direct from Amazon.
South Africans shop on line for gadgets, mobile phones, books, music and so we can go on. The greatest challenge here is that our retailers have not caught on as fast as the buying public have. This is about to change, as retailers are investing heavily in this opportunity and in the next 12 months we will see at least two major brands going onto full e -commerce platforms equivalent to the best anywhere in the world.
The shopping public
Our e-shopping public have traditionally used their desktops to shop, however the world wide trend is to shop on handheld devices including smart phones. Eventually, the market will mature into a device agnostic environment, where we will just do our e-retail regardless of how we access the Internet.
e-Shoppers do some really interesting things. Some use websites to do product research, make their choice and pop into the store to purchase their goods. Others shop online, buy the goods online, but go to the store to pick up the goods. Then some just do the whole transaction online and the goods get delivered to their door. We are seeing a blend of activity that supports both retail modalities , the online and the bricks and mortar environments.
Some shoppers will always have to go into the store; others won’t, but the upshot of this is that brick and mortar distribution will be rationalised to support the change in customer behaviour.
The Internet has changed retail, the effects are evolutionary and the opportunities abound for those who will see the magnitude of this dynamic frontier.
Opportunity knocks once
The essence of this discussion is for you, as the entrepreneur, to decide how you will respond to this trend. We will see new opportunities available to support e-retail. We need to embrace this, because the opportunity is to serve the African and related markets across a variety of value chains.