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What holds e-shoppers back

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E-commerce is on the increase in South Africa, but many shoppers are reluctant to shop online. DONOVAN MARAIS of Sage Pay provides some insight into what is holding them back.

E-commerce is on the rise in South Africa. According to recent research conducted by Ipsos on behalf of FNB and Paypal, 22% of South African Internet users have made purchases online, and 48% expect to do so in the future.

This is clearly a growing and potentially lucrative market for small businesses that are able to give customers the convenience and flexibility of doing business online. But what about the 30% of people who are not shopping online? What’s holding them back and how do can they be persuaded to make the big leap?

Here are a few of the reasons some people are still reluctant to shop online, and a few ideas about how you, the small business owner, can change their minds.

1.     Concern about delivery times

Especially as we enter the festive season, people are shopping for gifts for their friends, loved ones, or business contacts. Many of them are anxious about whether an item they order online will be shipped in time to reach the recipient for Christmas. According to Ipsos, 58 percent of those who have not shopped online say that concerns about not receiving items they have ordered is the reason they don’t do so.

Be sure that you work with a reliable courier company or have a good driver to handle your deliveries this time of the year. Speak to your couriers and suppliers to find out about their lead times and don’t make any promises that you can’t keep. If you miss a Christmas shipping date, you’ll probably lose the customer forever.

Tip: Post your cut-off dates for Christmas orders and shipments prominently on your Website, marketing emails, and other communications so that customers are aware of the deadlines and stick to them.

2.     Fraud and security fears

Some 67% of non-online shoppers in the Ipsos survey voice concerns about the security of online payments. With a flood of seasonal spam, many consumers are especially nervous at this time of the year. Payment providers, banks, and merchants clearly all have a lot to do to promote public awareness of the many scams and threats out there, while reassuring customers that online shopping is generally as safe as a visit to the mall.

You’ll need to offer an easy and trustworthy way for customers to pay online when they shop on your site. Be sure to tell your customers how you process payments on your site to give them peace of mind about its security. Also, detail your privacy and your refunds policy on your site.

Tip: Payment providers such as Sage Pay offer secure payment gateways that allow customers to pay easily using different payment types such as Bank EFT, Credit Card, Cashier payments at major retail stores and mobile payments via a QR code. These solutions mean you do not need to approach multiple service providers.

3.     Lack of awareness

Your customers might not know that you have a full e-commerce site in place. Be sure to promote your digital presence on your marketing materials and in the advertisements that you place in the press.

Tip: Your online customers might have a different profile to the people who visit your physical store, and hence may not read the papers or listen to the radio stations where you usually advertise. Use paid search ads, social media, and other digital channels to market to them in a measurable and cost-effective manner.

4.     Testing the goods

Depending on what you sell, people might want to see the product or handle it before they buy it. Few people are happy to buy a car without a test drive or clothes without trying them on.  But in most cases, they’ll be doing a lot of their research online. Here’s your opportunity to entice them into the store and convert the sale.

Tip: Offer a voucher for a small discount to entice web visitors into your store if they have been researching a product you sell. Or allow them to fill in an online form to book a test drive or ask for a sales rep to contact them. 

* Donovan Marais, Channel Manager at Sage Pay

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Homemation creates comfort through smart homes

Home automation is more than just turning the lights on and off, Homemation’s Gedaliah Tobias tells BRYAN TURNER

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The world is taking interior design notes from the Danish, in a style of living called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Its meaning varies from person to person: some see hygge as a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, others see it as a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The amount of “good feelings” one gets from these relaxing activities depends on what one values as indulgent.

But how does technology fit into this “art of feeling good”?

We asked Homemation marketing manager Gedaliah Tobias to take us through a fully automated home of the future and show us how automation creates comfort and good feelings.

“The house is powered by Control4, which you can think of as the brain of the smart home,” says Tobias. “It controls everything from the aircon to smart vacuum cleaners.”

The home of the future is secured by a connected lock. It acts like other locks with keypads and includes a key in the event of a power interruption. The keypad is especially useful to those who want to provide temporary access to visitors, staff, or simply kids who might lose their parents’ house keys.

“The keypad is especially useful for temporary access,” says Tobias. “For example, if you have a garden service that needs to use the home for the day, they can be given a code that only turns off the perimeter alarm beams in the garden for the day and time. If that code is used outside of the day and time range, users can set up alerts for their armed response to be alerted. This type of smart access boosts security.”

Once inside, one is greeted with a “scene” – a type of recipe for electronic success. The scene starts by turning on the lights, then by alerting the user to disarm the alarm. After the alarm is disarmed, the user can start another more complicated scene.

“Users can request customised scene buttons,” says Tobias. “For example, if I press the ‘Dinner call’ scene, the lights start to flash in the bedroom, there’s an announcement from the smart speakers, the blinds start to come down, the lighting is shifted to the dinner table. Shifting focus with lighting creates a mood to bring the house together for dinner.”

Homemation creates these customised scene buttons to enable users to control their homes without having to use another device. In addition to scene buttons, there are several ways to control the smart home.

 “Everything in the smart home is controllable from your phone, the touchscreens around the house, the TV, and the dedicated remote control. Everyone is different, so having multiple ways to control the house is a huge value add.”

We ask Tobias where Homemation recommends non-smart home users should start on their smart home journey.

“Before anything, the Control4 infrastructure needs to be set up. This involves a lot of communications and electrical cabling to be run to different areas of the home to enable connectivity throughout the home. After the infrastructure is set up, the system is ready for smart home devices, like lighting and sound.”

“For new smart home users, the best bang for their buck would be to start with lighting once the infrastructure is set up. Taking it one step at a time is wise.”

•    For more information, visit https://www.homemation.co.za/

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Face App grabs SA attention

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South Africans generated more than 100 000 search queries for “Face App” on Wednesday, while only generating 50 000 for “Mandela Day”. The Internet wentcrazy over the two-year-old app, which uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what users might look like in a few decades. Face App went viral as users posted their aged likenesses on social media in the #faceappchallenge. Privacy experts, however, warned that the app (made in Russia) may pose a threat to users’ privacy as it stores photos on its servers, with US Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, appealing to the FBI to investigate the app. 

In other top searches on Google this week, “Johnny Clegg” garnered more than 500 000 search queries on Tuesday as the news of his passing broke. The ‘White Zulu’ of Juluka and Savuka fame was an internationally acclaimed musician who was also an important figure in the fight against apartheid. Tributes to Clegg have been flooding media and social media over the past couple of days. Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.

More than 200 000 search queries were generated for “Mark Batchelor” on Monday after the former soccer star was brutally gunned down outside his Olivedale home in Gauteng. Investigations into the shooting are still ongoing. Batchelor played for Orlando Pirates, Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Bafana Bafana. 

“Jacob Zuma” also garnered more than 100 000 search queries on Monday as he made his first, much-anticipated appearance in front of the Zondo Commission on state capture. 

On Sunday “Macdonald Ndou” picked up more than 10 000 search queries after reports of theMuvhango actor’s arrest made the rounds. Ndou was held on various charges including extortion and kidnapping. The Hawks have reportedly provisionally withdrawn charges against the TV star, but a spokesperson said the decision to withdraw does not mean the charges will not be reinstated.

“Serena Williams” garnered more than 50 000 searches on Saturday as the tennis superstar suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat against Simona Halep in a Wimbledon final that lasted just 56 minutes. Williams later told Agence France Presse, “She [Halep] played out of her mind” and “I was like a deer in headlights”.

Last Friday, South Africans produced more than 20 000 search queries for “Duduzane Zuma” as the Randburg Magistrates Court found the former first son not guilty of a charge of culpable homicide. In February 2014, Zuma was involved in a car crash that took the life of Phumzile Dube when his vehicle crashed into the taxi she was travelling in.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year, worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40 

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