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Digital-wary drawn to etail

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Although e-commerce is taking the world by storm, its uptake is still rather slow in South Africa. VUYO MPAKO of Standard Bank believes this is mainly to do with our high broadband costs and limited Internet access.

E-commerce may be taking the world by storm, but South Africans remain wary of shopping online, with only three million making regular use of electronic shopping trollies to meet their daily requirements. But, with online purchases expected to near R10 billion in 2016, indications are that changing socio-economic factors will increase the use of digital shopping as technology becomes more accessible.

According to Vuyo Mpako, Head of Digital Channels and eCommerce at Standard Bank, two of the major problems facing South Africans are limited access to the internet and the cost of broadband. Mpako adds that although uncapped access to fibre networks is increasing in homes across the country, the cost – usually more than R600 a month – restricts access to those in higher-income brackets.

“As making homeowners’ access to fibre a viable economic proposition relies on high consumer take-up numbers, suppliers naturally target major urban areas. Thus, it is the cities and higher-income neighbourhoods that receive services. For e-commerce to become popular beyond city limits, the traditional barriers of large distances and poor infrastructure have to be overcome.”

Factors impacting on e-commerce sales locally include:

·         A lack of trust in making online transactions

·         The belief that internet purchases can only be made if the shopper has a credit card

·         The internet may not be cheaper than local retail outlets

·         Local buyers tending to buy non-food items only, such as music, videos, gifts, clothing and software online

“The true potential of e-commerce in South Africa can be seen from the fact that, although there are only about three million people using facilities regularly, the value of purchases made annually is increasing steadily,” Mr Mpako continues. “World Wide Worx indicates that a milestone of 1.03% of total retail sales of nearly R10 billion will be expected to be made online in 2016.

“Increasing use of e-shopping will be made by young South Africans who have high levels of computer literacy and are comfortable with using applications, or apps, that make access to services easier.

“Presently, this sector, comprising people between the ages of 25 and 35, makes up the bulk of e-commerce users. Not surprisingly, young South Africans between the ages of 25 and 34 make up the bulk of e-shoppers, followed by those between 35 and 44 – about 16% of the total.”

As predicted by experts, adds Mr Mpako, the increasing market penetration of smartphones is set to add further impetus to the use of e-shopping channels.

“While South Africa’s internet penetration lies at 34%, mobile phone penetration lies at 86%, according to World Wide Work numbers, and probably more than 50% of the adult population. As these mobile devices become more sophisticated, they bring easier access to streams of information and opportunities.

“Every facet of life is impacted by smart technology. Phones are used for everything from banking transactions to monitoring fitness levels and ordering groceries. It is inevitable that with the high penetration of smartphones in the market, more South Africans will be drawn to use their phone’s offerings.

“There is no doubt that as more services converge on smartphones, adoption levels will increase. Local consumers may at present be slow to adopt the technology, but more will see the value e-commerce offers. As this occurs, more people will come to trust the medium, realising the time saving benefit and potential for the medium to add real value to their lives. This will boost e-commerce and see larger numbers of South Africans moving into a digital shopping environment.”

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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