Five years ago, Black Friday and Cyber Monday didn’t even exist in South Africa. Today, they’re a major cash cow for local retailers. On Black Friday last year, consumers spent a record R2.9 billion, and that number is expected to jump 30% this year, with e-commerce playing a major part in that growth.
Problem is, many local e-commerce businesses will lose out on sales through cumbersome payment and checkout processes that cause customers to abandon their virtual shopping carts, says Thomas Pays, the chief executive of automated EFT payment provider Ozow (formerly i-Pay).
“Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a tremendous opportunity for local e-commerce businesses to make money,” says Pays. “It’s the perfect platform to drive sales, attract new customers, and create consumer excitement.”
“But in a tough economy, it’s vital that you’re able to process every transaction reliably and securely. Customers won’t wait for poor experiences. If you’re making them fill out numerous fields, or you’re unprepared for the boom in site traffic, you’re pushing your would-be customers to your competitors.”
In 2018, many major payment platforms in South Africa buckled under the transaction volumes and went offline even before stores officially opened for business, causing thousands of lost sales. People could browse online stores but could not checkout and pay for their orders. In the end, several retailers and e-tailers, like Takealot and Loot, encouraged consumers to use alternative digital payment platforms to complete their purchases.
In spite of these payment hiccups, the Rand value of sales in 2018 was 1000% higher than 2016, and this is expected to grow even further in 2019. Ozow had already surpassed its entire 2017 Black Friday numbers by 8am. At one point, it was processing 438 concurrent transactions, with the fastest transaction taking 8 seconds.
This year, transaction volumes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expected to be a staggering 1950%1 higher than an ordinary shopping day as bargain-crazed consumers descend on online stores. The average consumer is ready to spend more than R1700, largely on clothes, shoes and electronics2.
Pays says alternative payment systems, like automated EFT payments, are becoming increasingly popular because of their sheer ease of use, with no tedious filling in of credit card details needed for every transaction. A further benefit is that they open up the online shopping universe to people who don’t have debit or credit cards.
“For retailers to make the most of the Black Friday opportunity, it’s no longer good enough just to be online,” says Pays. “If you want to drive growth, you’ve got to offer consumers digital payment solutions that are secure, do not require credit cards or customer registration, and are available even in the face of the heaviest traffic volumes.”
“The bottom line: if you want more sales, happier customers and fewer headaches, make the checkout process as easy as possible. Give your customers a choice of payment platforms. And make sure your payment platform can handle the increased loads. Do that, and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.”
Alexa can now read all messages
For the first time, an Alexa skill is available that makes it possible to listen to any kind of message while driving
For the first time, Alexa users can now hear all their messages and email read aloud.
Amazon’s Alexa has become a household name. The world’s most popular virtual assistant is getting smarter every day and now, with Amazon Echo Auto, it’s in cars too.
“In today’s highly connected world, messaging in the form of emails, texts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and work channels like Slack, are integral to our daily routine,” says Barrie Arnold, chief revenue officer at ping. “However, distracted driving is responsible for more than 25% of car crashes and thousands of preventable fatalities every year.”
ping, a specialist in voice technology founded by Arnold and South African Garin Toren, has developed a new Alexa skill as a companion to its patented smartphone app, that enables any message type to be read aloud. Designed for safety, productivity and convenience, “pingloud” is the first skill of its kind for keeping users connected when they need a hand or an extra pair of eyes.
“The ping Alexa skill is specifically designed to help drivers stay off their phones while giving them exactly what they want – access to their messages.” says Toren, ping CEO.
Opening up Alexa to developers has resulted in an explosion of new skills available either for free or for a fee that unlocks premium services or features. These tools magnify the usefulness of Alexa devices beyond common tasks like asking for the weather, playing music or requesting help on a homework assignment. According to App Annie, the most downloaded apps in 2019 were Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s main app and WhatsApp, highlighting the importance of messaging.
“The ping Android app is available worldwide from the Google Pay Store, reading all messages out loud in 30 languages,” says Toren. “The iOS version is in global beta testing with the US launch coming very soon.”
Once you’ve signed up for ping, it takes a few seconds to link with Alexa, enabling all messages and emails to be read aloud by a smart speaker or Echo Auto device. Simply say, “Hey Alexa, open pingloud.” ping links an account to a voice profile so unauthorised users with access to the same Alexa cannot ask for the authorised user’s messages.
All major message types are supported, including Texts/SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram, Twitter DM’s, Instagram, and all email types. Promotional and social emails are not read by default.
*For more information, visit www.pingloud.com
Coronavirus to hit 5G
Global 5G smartphone shipments are expected to reach 199 million units in 2020, after disruption caused by the coronavirus scare put a cap on sales forecasts, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.
Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global 5G smartphone shipments will grow more than tenfold from 19 million units in 2019 to 199 million in 2020. The 5G segment will be the fastest-growing part of the worldwide smartphone industry this year. Consumers want faster 5G smartphones to surf richer content, such as video or games. We forecast 5G penetration to rise from 1 percent of all smartphones shipped globally in 2019 to 15 percent of total in 2020.”
Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “China, United States, South Korea, Japan and Germany are by far the largest 5G smartphone markets this year. The big-five countries together will make up 9 in 10 of all 5G smartphones sold worldwide in 2020. However, other important regions, like India and Indonesia, are lagging way behind and will not be offering mass-market 5G for at least another year or two.”
Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The global 5G smartphone industry is growing quickly, but the ongoing coronavirus scare and subsequent economic slowdown will put a cap on overall 5G demand this year. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently restricting smartphone production in Asia, disrupting supply chains, and deterring consumers from visiting retail stores to buy new 5G devices in some parts of China. The first half of 2020 will be much weaker than expected for the 5G industry, but we expect a strong bounce-back in the second half of the year if the coronavirus spread is brought under control.”
Exhibit 1: Global 5G Smartphone Shipments Forecast in 2020 1
|Global Smartphone Shipments (Millions of Units)||2019||2020|
|Rest of Market||1394||1165|
|Global Smartphone Shipments (% of Total)||2019||2020|
|Rest of Market||99%||85%|
Source: Strategy Analytics
The full report, Global Handset Sales for 88 Countries & 19 Technologies, is published by the Strategy Analytics Emerging Device Technologies (EDT) service, details of which can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/wep83gc.