For most, the thought of selling online is daunting – and yet we know it’s becoming more of a necessity to have some sort of e-commerce facility on our websites. Having recently launched my own personal online pre-ordering facility for my music album, I thought I should share what I have learnt. So here’s “5 things to knowing about e-commerce in South Africa”:
1. South Africans need education
My immediate realisation when people started using my online payment system was that it was mostly international purchasers who were comfortable with the concept of buying something on a website. And that South Africans had a limited understanding of the pro’s and cons of the various payment methods available to them. The key issue being that they get scared off when they see a PayPal or PayFast gateway where they need to enter their credit card details. This is your main pitfall in South Africa, but I believe it’s worth persevering.
2. Maximise traffic to ONE place
Why fob off traffic to another website, when you could drive traffic to your own? While I believe all these e-commerce sites, like Amazon and iTunes, are useful, I have made a point of doing the entire sales process for my CD on a site developed by Lithe.co.za – www.WorshipAccess.co.za (you can check out the whole thing here: http://tinyurl.com/aqlevcp). It is my opinion that with the small online market in South Africa, although you’re accessible from around the globe, it’s best to gear your e-commerce strategy from a South African perspective. Rather takes tips from the US market, but don’t emulate it. The US have a massive online market which is far more tech savvy than ours. And, with that, they get far more local traffic. Because we are so limited with local traffic, it’s a far better strategy to guide traffic to your own website or web page. For me, this means an entire website. For you, it may be setting up a page somewhere, and focussing all your attention on getting people to that page.
3. You can sell for free
The only cost in selling ar the charges to host your website and the charges PayPal take when you make a sale. I admit, these charges are a little high, it is so simple to get started with a payment gateway. Apart from the PayPal payment system, there are great free plugins for all the popular web building tools to set up a shop. You simply install the plugin, install your PayPal account and your shop is ready to go.
4. Postage is NOT a problem
There is a gross misconception about the postal system in South Africa. My wife and I use regular post daily, and we have very little trouble. And when we’re sending something quite valuable, we use the insurance available. Also, if you’re afraid of regular post, just use PostNet.
5. Nothing sells itself
People keep telling me, “Adin, once they hear your music, it will sell”. But I have been in enough sales positions, from selling a plate of food to a R100 000 cellular deal to know that even the best product, at the best price, needs selling. And with e-commerce this simply means you need to be at your computer for a few hours everyday selling your product. There are a few techniques in marketing online which I have learnt from trial and error, which I will share another time, but the main one is: don’t tick people off. Meaning – spread out your “spam”. Take your time and get permission to send people stuff, don’t just add a kajillion people to a mail and send, unless you know them personally, or they said yes to a mailing list. In the end, as a fairly new worker in the e-commerce field, I’m finding it’s not a get rich scheme in South Africa, but rather a valuable entity to your marketing and sales activities. For more info, you can subscribe to this blog here – http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=litheblog&loc=en_US – or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org