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In-store experience still trumps online buying in SA
In-store experience still trumps online buying in SA

In-store experience still trumps online buying in SA

SERVICES NEWS - Jul 14th 2014, 11:00

While South Africans are embracing online and mobile shopping, the in-store experience is as important as ever. 

About 46% of local shoppers, according to an Accenture survey released this week, still lean towards purchasing in-store and carrying home — 25% are buying online or via mobile and shipping home. This is the converse of global shoppers, 37% of whom prefer online over 28% who favour in-store purchasing.

Online shopping in SA is less developed than in other countries — delivery constraints, slow and expensive broadband and disparate online and in-store offerings have been an e-commerce inhibitor in SA.

Sean Katzen, MD of retail at Accenture SA said the lines between the different shopping channels were blurring and delivering a seamless experience across all retail touch points remained both a key challenge and prime opportunity for retailers today. A seamless shopping experience was consistency in service across bricks and mortar, e-commerce and mobile platform — the same product, at the same price, irrespective of the channel.

"What retailers have typically done is to create those channels as silos… the sites are not built with customer experience in mind, and when it comes to being able to get fulfilment in the way we want, like being able to schedule when deliveries happen, it is not there.

"There are also inconsistencies on things like pricing in stores versus online. So from a tech perspective it means that the seamless experience is not there, we have disconnects between what you’ll see online, versus what you see in store, or in the mobile environment," he said.

Accenture surveyed 15,000 adult consumers in 20 countries. Each country’s respondents, including SA, represented 750 adult consumers or five percent of the total.

Where local respondents are using online shopping, the primary reason is convenience, which is aligned with the global response. However, South African shoppers lean towards using online to check product availability before wasting a trip to the store and to compare prices between retailers — cited by 48% and 46% of respondents, respectively.

"South African shoppers find purchasing via online and mobile more difficult than other markets. Consequently, after stores close, most shoppers will wait for the store to open the next morning to purchase from their retailer rather than buy online at that retailer’s website," the global consultancy firm said.

In addition, South Africans are more interested in using their mobile phone while shopping in-store than the other markets — wanting to gather loyalty points, receive real time promotions, and scan products while shopping.

The GSMA, a body representing mobile operators worldwide last year found that sub-Saharan Africa had been the fastest growing region in the world for mobile users in the past five years. It said that mobile had become the leading access point to broadband in the region, mainly due to the high cost of PCs and a lack of fixed-line broadband infrastructure.

SA has a mobile broadband penetration rate approaching 30%, well ahead of the global average, meaning that almost one in three people in the country have a mobile broadband subscription.

Mr Katzen said that those retailers able to integrate the physical store with the rest of their digital capabilities, and who also use analytics to support new models of customer engagement and personalised service, could gain a true competitive advantage.

While South African retailers are only beginning to develop seamless shopping capabilities, they appear to be more developed in connected account capabilities, compared to their global counterparts.

The Accenture Seamless Retail Survey showed that more respondents that are South African reported having connected accounts and the ability to use loyalty points across channels.From DFM Publishers (Pty) Ltd 

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