While South Africa faces a weak rand, recent downgrades to junk status and a somewhat shaky political period in time, the retail industry is not filled with negativity as businesses continue to thrive while consumers continue to spend. In today’s world of advanced technology and online savvy consumers, here are four of the top consumer led trends in 2017 so far, written in collaboration with Hippo.co.za.
With more consumers having grown up with the internet, and therefore accustomed to online services, the more they expect a seamless online experience. Customers want to not only search for and receive your products quickly and conveniently, but also find answers to their questions or problems easily, and if they don’t they are quick to move away from a brand. According to a 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 68% of South African consumers would continue support for a businesses that proved it cared about its customers and their interests. Businesses need to pay careful attention to their customers’ comments, complaints and interests and ensure that they have a skilled team which knows how to deal with any issues that arise. Make sure your customers know how to get hold of you, that they are important to you and that the service you are offering is meeting their needs.
South Africans turn to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram specifically to catch up on daily news, find out what their friends are up to, what’s new with the brands they follow, and to share their thoughts and reviews with the world. With 26.8 million internet users in South Africa spending close to three hours a day on social media, make sure your presence on your various social channels is visible, and that your business is represented optimally. On Facebook for example, you can present your shop to your followers through images, prices and links to the products on your website. Make sure that your followers are aware they can browse through your products on this channel and that they can easily click through to your site to view them. Just as How a Supermarket’s Layout Influences Shopping Behaviour through its layout, so too can the layout and look of your social channels impact your turnover. If the ‘shop’ option is enabled, and your images are enticing, consumers are more likely to browse through your products.
While eCommerce is a new trend to the South African business market, it is growing rapidly at a rate of 26% since 2015. As more people gain access to the internet, and mobile devices, an increasing number of people will take to shopping online. Along with technological improvements, and an increased need to purchase products on the go, eCommerce is fast becoming the way to conveniently purchase products, and South African businesses need to be on top of this trend. Ensure your website is easy to use both on desktops and mobile devices and make use of stringent security measures, and you’ll be one more business on its way to capitalizing on the interest gaining in online shopping.
While South Africans are increasingly feeling their disposable incomes shrinking they still value quality, even if the product is more expensive than alternatives. Just as consumers would buy Car Insurance that provides more cover for their money, so too would they opt for other products that offer them, for example a longer lasting product. Businesses that continue to deliver well-made products and an excellent service will continue to dominate, even if their prices aren’t the cheapest, because of the value the customers are getting throughout the purchasing experience. According to a recent study conducted by BMi Research, even if a product is on sale, consumers will question whether the product looks like it will last, has been through a quality check, has an expiration date (if perishable goods) and the product meets their expectations before making the purchase. Ensure your business offers products that are worth people’s valuable time and money.
With South Africa’s commerce world fast becoming consumer led, these and many more trends will become priorities for businesses looking to make a name for themselves.