E-commerce lessons from one of the world's leading online payments platform

Tips on how SMEs can provide faster and more convenient service to their customers


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South Africa's country’s e-commerce outlook remains optimistic with various payment gateway companies banking on the expected growth of the sector. 

One such company is PayPal, who according to their website has over 169 million accounts in 190 markets. They began operating in South Africa in 2010 and have since tipped the 1 million users locally.

SME South Africa speaks to Efi Dahan, PayPal regional director of Africa and Israel, about how the growth of internet and mobile penetration in South Africa is expected to push online shopping figures upwards.

"While e-commerce penetration in South Africa by global standards is still relatively low, it is expected that the number of online shoppers to nearly triple in the near future," he says

Growth of e-commerce in SA

Dahan says in a study conducted on behalf of PayPal, reveals that in 2014, 22% of South African internet users indicated that they made purchases online, and 48% said they will do so in the future.

Dahan explains that the growth of e-commerce in South Africa and globally is led by, among other factors, the need for convenience.
"People don’t want to wake up and do payments, so they look for the fastest way to get what they need," he says.

The benefits of e-commerce for SMEs

Payment gateway services have enabled businesses to provide faster services to their customers, Dahan says.
"Faster services means higher conversion rates - which is the number of people who will buy, out of those who started the process - for businesses."

"It is expected that the number of online shoppers to nearly triple in the near future"

Another benefit for SMEs is that it is becoming easier for businesses to learn more about their customers than ever before, Dahan says. He explains that with e-commerce a merchant can access and analyse each customers' purchase history and so help the business better understand and serve their consumers.

See also: All your e-commerce questions answered

e-Commerce Tips for SMEs

Dahan offers advice to SMEs and entrepreneurs on how to ensure they begin their e-commerce journey effectively.

1. Take EVERYTHING seriously

Dahan says it is vital for businesses to be prepared. "We can give you the best conversion in the payments part, but you have to understand that the entire flow, the entire service should be perfect, including user-interface, including inventory," he says.

2. You need to invest in CUSTOMERS SUPPORT

Businesses should understand that it's not just selling, he says and adds, "You need to deal with customer support, you need to deal with returns effectively. You need to give a full service," he says.

3. CONSULT an e-commerce expert

Dahan advises SMEs to consult with an e-commerce expert before taking the plunge. He says, "Not just on payment solutions but for the e-commerce holistically and on what kind of integration would be best suited for your business."

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