JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 19, 2022 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/ – Is a website really a ‘digital experience’? South African retailers are in a rush to capitalize on the growing number of South African consumers choosing to shop online as digitalization and the disruptive impact of the pandemic change consumer habits.
According to Amrish Singh, Global Customer Experience Advisor at SAP Africa, South Africans have traditionally been used to physical shopping where they can see the quality of a product or the freshness of a loaf of bread – but that has changed dramatically.
“Recent years have seen a massive growth in online shopping as consumers become more comfortable enjoying the convenience of shopping online. Where South African e-commerce has traditionally lagged more developed markets, a new wave of digitally mature companies is leading e-commerce, ably supported by a rich ecosystem of fulfillment partners, forward-thinking retailers trendsetters and digital native consumers. However, this places significant pressure on retailers to ensure that they provide an excellent online customer experience at all times. »
Digital adoption drives digital maturityAccording to reports, online shopping in South Africa grew by 66% in 2020 to over R30 billion, double what it was two years ago. “Despite the easing of strict lockdown measures that restricted the movement of consumers to physical stores, online shopping continues to grow in popularity as more retailers introduce tailored e-commerce offerings for the retail market. booming consumption of SA.”
Singh, who advises companies on improving their customer experiences and digital maturity, adds that companies looking to introduce online offerings will first need to determine their level of maturity to understand what additional developments are needed to create compelling customer experiences.
“Digital maturity refers to a company’s performance across hundreds of touchpoints in a typical digital customer journey, grouped into four main categories, namely Mobile, CX, Digital Marketing, and Social Media,” Singh explains. “As businesses explore new revenue opportunities in the age of the always-connected consumer, tracking digital maturity will be critical to creating compelling online customer experiences.”
To help businesses in their efforts to develop smooth and effective online customer experiences, Singh provides tips for improving each of the four pillars of digital maturity:
Pillar 1: Mobility
In a country where smartphone penetration has passed the 90% markHaving a mobile presence is essential to any company’s digital ambitions.
“A fast, responsive and user-friendly mobile app or responsive mobile website is essential for businesses because it creates a powerful channel for sales and customer service while providing vital information, such as the location of the nearest store “, explains Singh.
More digitally mature businesses will also integrate other services such as WhatsApp for customer support chats or Google Maps so customers can navigate to the nearest store directly from the device of their choice.
Singh adds that businesses should also build custom features into their mobile apps depending on the type of business. “For example, if you are a pharmacy, does your app indicate if there is a clinic on site? If your business receives a large number of customer inquiries, are your contact details hyperlinked so that customers can reach you with just one click? »
Pillar 2: Overall customer experience
Customer experience is an important part of the experience economy and has become a fundamental tenet of successful businesses, along with traditional measures such as product quality and price.
Some studies suggest that consumers are 3.5 times more likely to buy more from a brand following a positive customer experiencewhile brands that provide a poor customer experience can expect to lose almost 10% of their revenue.
“Good online customer experiences are critical to the success of any business’ digital efforts,” says Singh. “How well designed and easy to navigate is your homepage? Can customers easily create an account profile? An easy win here is to use social logins so your customers don’t have to remember another set of usernames and passwords.
Guided selling, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help customers find exactly what they’re looking for – sometimes before they even know they’re looking for it – is also growing in popularity as the underlying technology is improving.
“Having clear product images with detailed information, along with customer ratings and reviews, further helps create a compelling experience that can build consumer confidence and encourage repeat purchases. A smooth returns experience, especially for consumer goods and fashion items, is also essential, as any delay in replacing a faulty product can damage the customer relationship and push them towards your competitors.
Pillar 3: Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a critical driver of modern commerce and has spawned some of the most valuable businesses in the world. In a survey of over 14,000 online shoppers, nearly half (48%) of consumers said they start their hunt for new products on search engines.
“Businesses need to ensure they rank well for their relevant keywords on popular search engines like Google,” Singh says. “Aspects like the branded keywords they search for, powerful calls to action, and ensuring that all ads go to a live link — not an unfortunate 404 page — are also key. “
Regulations such as the European Union’s Personal Information Protection Act and GDPR add an element of compliance to customer communications.
“The ability for consumers to easily opt in and out of communication is both a customer experience and a regulatory requirement. Digitally mature organizations will also ensure that there is an engaging and relevant deployment of content for a newly enrolled customer to deepen their interest and begin to build a positive relationship with the customer.
Pillar 4: Social media
With nearly four billion social media users across all platforms worldwidesocial media has become an ubiquitous part of modern digital life.
Singh says modern brands simply can’t afford not to have a strong social media presence. “At a minimum, businesses should have systems and processes in place to regularly post content in accordance with a well-thought-out social media policy, track engagement, and respond quickly and effectively to negative posts on their social pages.”
For more digitally mature businesses, social commerce could help drive valuable traffic and sales. “How easily are your customers directed from the social post to a product page with e-commerce functionality? And how do you leverage content to build strong connections with a specific audience? For example, if you are a hardware vendor, do you have a YouTube channel with tutorials on how to use certain tools or how to fix common home DIY problems? And do those videos link to other products relevant to the tutorial?”
According to Singh, companies should partner with experts who can bring a global perspective on best practices to accelerate their transition to greater digital maturity.
“Our customer experience consulting team assesses over four hundred touchpoints across the four pillars of digital maturity to give organizations a clear picture of their strengths and areas for improvement. This can eliminate wasted effort and push them faster towards greater digital maturity, with all the customer satisfaction and increased revenue benefits that this brings.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.
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