The binary art of selling

Opinion piece by Dr Yudhvir Seetharam, Head of Analytics at FNB

10 October 2017 – We often mention that we live in the digital age, where information flows at faster speeds, is more complex and is more accessible. As much as this information can be analysed by businesses to make better informed decisions, the real question is, is there room to alter the sales landscape?

South Africa has roughly 52% of the population that use the internet, with 70% mobile penetration. With more than half the population being enabled to use either the internet or a cell phone, businesses need to ask themselves whether digital retail strategies are the next evolution of selling. A simple, yet startling fact by GSMA is that in 2015, mobile technologies and services were already generating 6.7% of Africa’s GDP, amounting to $150bn of economic value and supporting 3.8m jobs.

As more consumer groups become digitally savvy, businesses need to shift both their approach and “shops” from being traditional to being digital. In the latest e-commerce report, South Africans frequently return to their online store, purchasing media, books or travel products – they are primarily based in metropolitan areas, visit social media sites (or check emails) while shopping and are quite at ease with technology.

These type of insights and analytics in the digital space are growing significantly to assist businesses target consumers via social media – an example of the extent to which targeting has reached are banner ads on Google or Facebook – these are usually very targeted based on individual user patterns. Around 37% of businesses are currently using social media or viral marketing as their primary marketing driver, however this number needs to grow over the next few years.

With 72% of reported online shoppers using price comparison sites, businesses cannot afford to not price their digital store products competitively. Around 60% of customers prefer to pay via credit card services rather than on delivery, implying that customers want convenience when completing their shopping. By also shopping online, you allow customers to view reviews of your product, which can help boost your sales through indirect marketing.