Jaco Jonker, CEO of South African online marketplace and auction site www.bidorbuy.co.za, believes mobile platforms, diversity of payment options and improved search are some of the crucial areas for online retail in South Africa in 2013.
“The proliferation of smartphones means the growth of e-commerce is not limited to computer-based Internet penetration, as we see more and more shoppers buying from their mobile devices,” says Jonker.
At the recent Mobile World Congress, several big manufacturers announced smartphones in the under R2 000, or even under R 1000 range. At the same time, service provides are coming up with more affordable data packages.
“For us, this means many South Africans in the lower income brackets will finally be able to take advantage of the lower prices that our sellers as a rule offer,” says Jonker and adds that bidorbuy is well positioned to accommodate this trend, having developed its mobi site and applications for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry 10.
“We experienced a sharp increase in the number of shoppers using the bidorbuy Android app after it rolled out in November last year,” says the bidorbuy CEO. “We still have more visitors via our iPhone app, released earlier. However, having in mind the number of South Africans who use Android-powered smartphones, shoppers with our Android app are set to soon surpass the ones with our iPhone app.”
Currently, shopping via a mobile device accounts for more than 5% of the gross value of sales on the site, and the bidorbuy CEO points out that he would not be surprised if mobile sales double in the next few months.
In 2013, bidorbuy will also concentrate on fine-tuning its online payments offering and on improving its search functionality.
Online shoppers want not only the ease of payment, but different payment methods too. This poses specific challenges for bidorbuy, because thousands of sellers sell their products on the site.
“Our fast Internet EFT payment tool, called bobPay, remains the most popular payment option on the site and we are always looking at ways to provide more payment options. Sellers with a proven track record are able to accept payment methods they would otherwise have no recourse to, like credit cards and Discovery Miles,” says Jonker.
As for the ease and effectiveness of search, the bidorbuy CEO believes this will become an increasingly important testing ground for e-commerce and mobile commerce.
“Shoppers want to find quickly what they are looking for,” says Jonker. “We plan to devote much of 2013 responding to this need by innovating the way our sellers list their merchandise, so that shoppers can easily locate the item they want among more than 1.2 million currently listed on the site.”