I shop online often and it is my occupation but I feel certain stigmas hurt the industry, especially in South Africa. Some of them have grounds and others are urban legends in my opinion.

So instead of moaning about the lack of resources ecommerce currently receives from the government, I am going to try and suggest some solutions to these issues.

  • “I have added a product to the shopping cart, have I purchased it?” No… It is the same as walking through a normal store with your trolley and then paying at the till when you are completely done.  Adding an item to shopping cart does not purchase it until you have added all your details to the payment section of the process. You will be informed normally by means of breadcrumbs where you are in the process.
  • “The product is not available at your online store and there for have I been billed incorrectly…” This is a sticky one but I have experienced the shops  informing you consistently by means of email  if they have the product and if they do not offering a full refund if not. Shoppers need to remember that the shops generally do not have any stock onsite but are rather dependent on a supplier for the stock levels and sometimes the suppliers do not have stock and have not communicated that to the shop.
  • “Online shopping is unsafe…” I have not found an unsafe shop yet and generally look for shop reviews on the chosen shop before purchase. Secondly look for a secure connection(https) when paying for your purchase and if your browser gives you a message to the effect that that the information might be seen by others then walk away from it. If possible, purchase with a credit card and if anything unsatisfactory happens then do a  charge back with your bank that provided the credit card.
  • I have waited and have received no communication from the shop. I generally give the shop 48 hours and if nothing has happened then I will phone them. If I get no reply to the phone call then I will email the store and phone again. If nothing still has happened I will write a review on a comparison shopping engine to communicate to other shoppers my situation and use a dispute resolution service like hellopeter or getclosure.

Shopping online in general is an enjoyable experience but sometimes situations occur which are outside of the control of the shops. The process normally is about 3-5 days from order completion after the order is received by the shop. If it is an item that needs to be imported from outside the borders of the country then you are looking at a 10-14 day duration. I would also suggest that you subscribe to newsletters from some stores as that normally is a good place for good deals.

The one thing that does bother me is that certain retailers have not given their eCommerce offering the attention it deserves.  Clicks is a good example. I think their Clubcard platform is a great idea but you cannot buy anything online from them. Having a catalogue without a shopping cart is not an eCommerce play it is for advertising purposes only. You are still implying that the shopper has to go to your physical store.

Until pure retailers start realizing that their is an untapped market ready for the taking then eCommerce will be staying in this current position. The South African consumer would love a brick and click environment, not just a brick and mortar experience.