Black Friday (23 November) and Cyber Monday (26 November) are around the corner and consumers are eagerly anticipating exciting deals from retailers and online stores. Marking the start of the festive shopping season, these days have grown in popularity locally over the past four years. With high transaction volumes and values expected again in 2018, merchants need to find more innovative ways of meeting the mobile needs of South African customers.
The value of transactions processed by i-Pay’s last year increased tenfold for the weekend when compared to the average previously. Perhaps more significantly, volumes increased five-fold. This indicates that more South Africans are embracing the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period and are more open to making purchases during this time.
In fact, statistics show that online shopping sessions jumped 936% last November with 43% of purchases made coming from international sites.
Store in your pocket
Unlike in more developed countries, South Africans use mobile devices as their go-to platform when it comes time to access the internet, watch content, and make purchases. With the number of smartphone users in the country expected to increase from the 16.42 million in 2016 to approximately 25 million by 2022, there is massive growth potential for merchants.
By now, one would expect most e-tailers to have mobile-friendly Web sites. Not only does this create a more enjoyable user experience when browsing for products, but it shows the willingness of a merchant to cater for customer needs.
Black Friday teaser campaigns are reaching fever-pitch with many retailers driving customers to their Web sites to either pre-order, pre-register, start viewing deals they want and start buying. Significant investments have been made in ensuring sites can cater for the influx of visitors, the availability of stock, and partnering with suppliers for high value discounts.
Unfortunately, the most critical component in this environment is often neglected – the checkout/payment process. Many retailers assume that their customers are familiar with transacting online or have access to credit cards.
However, in South Africa, many potential customers do not have credit cards and feel alienated by not being able to easily pay for their online purchases. Sure, a number of solutions have been launched to address this, but these are often cumbersome, require people to register, and often payments need to clear first before goods can be dispatched. Hardly an ideal scenario for the always-on, real-time digital world.
One of the ways merchants can overcome this is to use Instant EFT platforms such as i-Pay. As the name suggests, this manages the transaction in real-time and ensures there is no delay in the fulfilment of an online order.
Users do not have to register for the service and neither do they have to have a credit card. It is simply a matter of selecting the Instant EFT option during the checkout process, logging in to a bank account, and authorising the payment.
The environment is completely secure and no personal financial information is stored using i-Pay. Such has been i-Pay’s success that since its launch in 2014 there have been zero instances of fraud using the system. Transactions are processed in real-time with the merchants able to process products for shipping almost immediately. It is designed to be mobile-friendly and empowers consumers to easily and quickly transact.
Merchants who activate these alternative digital payment solutions can give their customers even more choice to pay using the method they are most comfortable with. Considering that Black Friday is expected to be one for the record books this year, having customers completing purchases who ordinarily would not have done so can only be a good thing.