Ecommerce moves too quickly for most businesses to keep up

  • Accenture’s Commerce without Compromise report highlights some interesting details of the local sector.
  • Unfortunately, most companies can’t keep up with new developments in ecommerce and end up coasting by.
  • While ecommerce isn’t huge in South Africa just yet, businesses hoping to dive in should view investment in online shopping as a long-term endeavour.

South Africans love shopping online and more and more shoppers are moving into the digital space. Unfortunately, a raft of problems face companies looking to capitalise on this trend with as many as 95 percent telling Accenture that the ecommerce space is moving to quickly to keep up.

Granted, this sentiment is derived from just 75 South African C-suite executives surveyed by Accenture for its Commerce without Compromise report but the insight is no less valuable.

The cost of business, as with everything in the world is going up and while companies are looking to move online they face troubles with ad hoc systems, legacy technology, skills gaps, and poor infrastructure.

“The days when ecommerce was simple are long gone – if they ever actually existed,” says Mushambi Mutuma, sales and commerce lead for Accenture, Africa. “The reality today is that eCommerce is complex, dynamic, disruptive, and competitive. In this environment, companies have a choice to make – one that is potentially existential.”

Accenture separated respondents into three groups based on their answers these are Champion, Coasters and Compromisers. Champions tend to view ecommerce as a long-term investment and have adapted their business to account for the dynamic nature of the sector. Coasters are doing what they’ve always done because it works and change is slow if non-existent. The most interesting group are the Compromisers who chase the latest trend without proper consideration.

The bad news is that Champions only account for 20 percent of respondents and the majority – 55 percent – are just getting by.

This is concerning as it shows that most businesses see ecommerce as just another way to sell product rather than treating it as a separate endeavour.

As Accenture puts it, ecommerce needs to be simple while improving profitability and the experience for the customers.

The trouble here is that while this is all good and well in a territory such as the US, in South Africa investing in ecommerce is a hard ask. Establishing your own digital store requires a large amount of expertise which comes at a cost. Infrastructure needs to be resilient to loadshedding and that’s before we even consider how relatively minuscule online shopping culture is in South Africa.

Because of this, most companies use the likes of Takealot to reach more customers or make use of an off-the-shelf ecommerce solution.

Of course, the industry will change and that’s where Accenture’s study has some value. It goes without saying though that simply creating an online store and expecting it to bring in money for years to come is a terrible idea and as such, it’s important to invest in this over the longer term.

With that in mind, we highly recommend joining the Insaka eCommerce Community – South Africa on Facebook. Started by ecommerce expert Warrick Kernes, it has become an incredible resource for businesses that need advice about ecommerce whether that be for strategy, platforms or solutions to problems.

Local companies should be looking to the future but that investment must be compared against the ecommerce trends locally.


About Author


Related News