Today 80% of SA’s online retailers are profitable, 46% are very profitable and 34% are eking out small profits. This is according to Steve Mallaby, MD of UltiSales Retail Software.
“Online retail shopping in SA is still small, but it is growing,” said Mallaby. “We are going to see an increasing mixture between brick-and-mortar operations and online operations, with full integration across the two, giving customers their own choice.”
Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, which recently conducted a survey of 250 online retailers out of a total of 1 000, maintains online retailing in SA is healthy.
It is an interesting statistic given the affects of the recent – and still ongoing – worldwide recession. But he noted that on-line retailers must take customers seriously.
He noted that availability of product beats range and quality beats price. Speed is paramount. His research showed that there will be a steady increase in e-tailing through to 2012, when the market is set to “explode”.
Mallaby warned that retailers needed to ensure that they have plans in place to integrate their systems in order to straddle the worlds of brick and mortar retailing and e-tailing.
“Some are falling behind in terms of two-way integration and are going to have to address this urgently,” he said.
According to the US on-line publication, About.com, a growing number of large U.S retailers have integrated their online shopping with their traditional brick-and-mortar stores to give virtual shoppers the option to pick up their purchases instead of having them shipped. This, too, is a fast-growing trend.
“It is going to happen increasingly in SA,” said Mallaby.