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Don’t build a shop, build a customer journey

DPO PayGate processes payments for over 10 000 online merchants in Southern Africa. BRENDON WILLIAMSON, CSO at DPO PayGate draws on the company’s 19 years’ experience to offer some advice to companies looking to build repeat business in the digital marketplace.

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From the moment they click onto an ecommerce site, customers develop a lasting impression of your brand. Creating a frictionless environment with an outstanding customer journey is helping even small, boutique offerings significantly boost their bottom line. 

The last mile is the most important

Despite what many think, we have seen that the delivery of goods and services is the make or break of an ecommerce offering. 

The importance of this last mile service is clearly demonstrated by industry stalwarts like Takealot (which acquired Mr. Delivery) and Yuppiechef, which put their own branded drivers on the road. The companies which have succeeded in the local market know that how fast you receive your item or service is the last, and most indelible, impression left with a customer. 

Strangely, some of the biggest, and arguably most respected, retail bands still don’t have this part of the journey right. Fixed delivery charges can leave a bitter taste with customers. Being charged R150 for the delivery of a R50 item means shoppers will simply go elsewhere to buy or, at best, wait until they have a big enough order to make the delivery charge worth their while. The irony is that many of the big brands who employ this delivery billing model are the same companies which have spent millions on improving their checkout processes in their physical stores. 

A site’s returns policy is also important. If there’s not a quick and simple returns policy shoppers are left disillusioned and unlikely to ever use the service again, much less recommend it to their friends.

Allow reviews – customers trust other customers

As consumers we want to know that someone else has done what we are doing and that their experience was good. Allowing reviews on your site means first-time users will see that others have successfully transacted with you and this de-risks the transaction for them. 

And these reviews don’t all have to be glowing. Humans are, by nature, forgiving creatures. If we see that there was a glitch in the process for someone else, but the business was willing and able to quickly resolve the problem, we know that if we run into trouble there will be friendly staff who are able to assist us. 

In fact, the human element should never be underestimated. De-risking the transaction process means having someone available to help at every stage of the customer journey. Some ecommerce sites have built their reputation around excellent online service. For instance, if a customer is inactive on a page for any length of time, they should get an onscreen prompt with a sales assistant who is able to guide them through the process and even help them find the particular product they may be looking for. 

We trust what we know

The look and feel of the site can also help shoppers feel secure. Designing your site to have the same visual and experiential feel as the well-known ecommerce sites can help alleviate discomfort. Of course, companies should ensure their site is beautifully branded and clearly differentiated from their competitors, but the layout and step-by-step process can be modeled on those sites which have proven conversion rates. 

The same could be said for security. While many customers are not necessarily looking for security seals, having your SSL security certificates up to date is imperative. Online banking has taught the average consumer that they should be looking for the ‘https’ in the URL bar as a minimum. 

When it comes to payments, ensuring your customer has their preferred payment option is always a must. Having a complete bouquet of payment offerings including card, Instant EFT, and app-based payments such as Zapper and PayPal means you are far less likely to lose a customer as they are about to pay. 

Make you sure you have value-adds 

Buying goods and services online takes the personal touch out of the shopping experience. You miss out on the well-trained, smiling staff who can entice customers to support one store over other. Since there are so many online options to choose from when buying a product or service, adding unique value-adds can boost the first experience and lead to repeat business. Giveaways, free delivery, discounts, and coupons to share with friends all go a long way to make customers return and refer your business to their friends. 

Create interactive websites 

A common failing of some ecommerce stores is not updating their sites. It is important to ensure that you show that your products are selling. This could be done by having a top ten purchased items section or a ‘what’s hot today’ deals space that change regularly.

Using 360-degree images also go a long way to make customers feel confident about their purchases. More interaction can also be boosted using newer technologies like augmented and virtual realities. Experiential marketing is now making online shopping more exciting than real-world experiences and is helping companies to not only push merchandise, but build brands that excite and capture the imagination of the customer. 

You’re not a number, but you are producing data

So much is being written about big data and machine learning to crunch the numbers and come up with meaningful insights into customer behaviour. While the larger companies are all using this now, even the smaller ecommerce sites can use their existing site information and analytics to look for trends. Analysing user behaviour leads to better user experience. Even small tweaks to the existing model can have a significant impact when it comes to basket or trolley abandonment and companies should be paying attention to these details. 

Although it’s coming off a low base, ecommerce in South Africa is growing at a phenomenal rate. Ensuring you have designed a frictionless customer journey can set your company apart in an increasingly competitive market. From design to delivery, every user touchpoint is vital. 

Cars

Auto rivals team up for connected car demo

Rivals BMW, Ford and Groupe PSA, maker of Peugeot and Opel cars, have teamed up with the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), Qualcomm Technologies and Savari for Europe’s first live demonstration of C-V2X direct communication technology operating across vehicles from multiple auto manufacturers.

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The live demonstration also featured a live showcase of C-V2X direct communication technology operating between passenger cars, motorcycles, and roadside infrastructure. C-V2X is a global solution for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication in support of improved automotive safety, automated driving and traffic efficiency.

The demonstration exhibited the road safety and traffic efficiency benefits of using C-V2X for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) collision avoidance, as well as Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) connectivity to traffic signals and Traffic Management Centers (TMC). C-V2X was operated using real-time direct communications over ITS spectrum and demonstrated its ability to work without cellular network coverage, and underscores its commercial readiness for industry deployment as early as 2020. Superior performance and cost-effectiveness compared to other V2X technologies, along with forward-compatibility with 5G, make C-V2X direct communications a preferred solution for C-ITS applications.

Six demonstrations were shown including: Emergency Electronic Brake Light, Intersection Collision Warning, Across Traffic Turn Collision Risk Warning, Slow Vehicle Warning and Stationary Vehicle Warning, Signal Phase and Timing / Signal Violation Warning and Vulnerable Road User (pedestrian) Warning. The vehicles involved included two-wheel e-scooters provided by BMW Group, and automotive passenger vehicles provided by Ford, Groupe PSA, and BMW Group, all of which were equipped with C-V2X direct communication technology using the Qualcomm® 9150 C-V2X chipset solution.  V2X software stack and application software, along with roadside infrastructure, were provided by industry leader, Savari.

C-V2X is globally supported by a broad automotive ecosystem, which includes the fast growing 5GAA organization.  The 5GAA involves over 85 global members comprised of many leading automakers, Tier-1 suppliers, software developers, mobile operators, semiconductor companies, test equipment vendors, telecom suppliers, traffic signal suppliers and road operators.  

Cellular modems will be key to the C-V2X deployment in vehicles to support telematics, eCall, connected infotainment and delivering useful driving/traffic/parking information. As C-V2X direct communication functionality is integrated into the cellular modem, C-V2X solutions are expected to be more cost-efficient and economical over competing technologies, and benefit from accelerated attach rates.  C-V2X direct communication field validations are currently underway in Germany, France, Korea, China, Japan and the U.S.

C-V2X currently stands as the only V2X technology based on globally recognized 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications, with ongoing evolution designed to offer forward compatibility with 5G.  C-V2X also leverages and reuses the upper layer protocols defined by the automotive industry, including the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) organization. C-V2X includes two complementary transmission modes: 

  • Direct communication as shown in this demonstration for V2V and V2I use cases
  • V2N network communication, which leverages mobile operators for connectivity and delivers cloud-based services, including automated crash notification (ACN, as mandated by eCall), hazard warnings, weather conditions, green light optimal speed advisory (GLOSA), parking spot location, and remote tele-operation to support automated driving, to name a few.

“This demonstration builds on the successful C-V2X showcase we organised with our members Audi, Ford and Qualcomm in Washington DC in April, said Christoph Voigt, Chairman of 5GAA.

“We are excited to witness the growing momentum behind this life-saving technology and to see our members working together to deploy C-V2X, and to make it hit the road as soon as possible.”  

“The BMW Group introduced the first C-ITS use cases already in 2013 with the market introduction of the BMW i3. Today most of envisaged C-ITS use-cases are already institutionalized. With the implementation of C-V2X, the BMW Group accomplishes the last set of the puzzle with a practical path to C-ITS showing quick benefits,” said Christoph Grote, Senior Vice President Electronics, BMW Group. 

“With its ability to safely and securely connect vehicles, along with its evolution into 5G, C-V2X is integral to Ford’s vision for future transportation in which all cars and infrastructure talk to each other,” said Thomas Lukaszewicz, Manager Automated Driving, Ford of Europe. “We are very encouraged by preliminary test results in Europe and elsewhere which support our belief that C-V2X direct communications has superior V2X communication capabilities.”

“We’re moving forward with seamless communication between cars and their environment for enhancing road safety, as well as our customers’ safety,” said Carla Gohin, Group PSA’s Vice President for Research and Advanced Engineering. “Following the first European C-V2X direct communications demonstration we hosted with Qualcomm Technologies last March, we’re pleased to work with leading automotive and technology companies today to highlight that C-V2X interoperability is a reality.” 

“This demonstration of interoperability between multiple automakers is not only another milestone achieved towards C-V2X deployment, but also further validates the commercial viability and global compatibility of C-V2X direct communications for connected vehicles,” said Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president & president, Qualcomm Europe and MEA. “We look forward in continuing to work alongside leaders in the automotive industry, like the 5GAA, BMW Group, Ford, Groupe PSA and Savari, to help advance the automotive industry’s shift towards a safer, connected and more autonomous future.” 

“As one of the V2X pioneers, our company is extremely pleased to continue to help enable the next step in the V2X revolution that we helped start back in 2008,” said Ravi Puvvala, CEO of Savari. “For the last year and a half, the Savari team has worked diligently alongside the dedicated C-V2X engineers in the 5GAA partnership. The resulting string of increasingly impressive demonstrations is continuing to convince the world that C-V2X will soon be deployed around the world.”

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entires via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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