Did you know that 70% of South Africans shop online at least once a month? Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, e-commerce has boomed with approximately 22 million consumers saying they shopped online in 2020. This figure is expected to grow by 44% to 32 million users by 2024..
I can attest to this growth. Back in 2014, I started one of the very first online professional haircare stores in South Africa. The store, 'Hair Today Hair Tomorrow', was started with the aim of providing quality, professional-grade products to the growing online shopping community. Fast-forward to 2022 where today, under the My Beauty Luv brand, I produce and sell a range of professional-grade beauty supplements that target the most sought-after areas of wellness: anti-ageing, longevity, and vitality.
I believe that if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that businesses, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), need to be online to survive. Far too many businesses became casualties of the crisis. While some SMEs do need a brick-and-mortar presence, they also need to have an online offering to be able to compete in the ‘new normal’.
Here is my advice for SMEs wanting to enter the world of e-commerce:
- Find a niche. In an increasingly flooded market, business owners will need to figure out what sets them apart from their competitors. They will need to consider which beauty services or products they will provide and define their target market.
- Build the brand. With the above in mind, the next step is to think about how the packaging, branding, voice, and website design echo the brand and create an experience for customers.
- Set up the site. There is a myriad of e-commerce platforms and tools available. Business owners should choose the one that best suits their needs and budget. Once this is done, they need to pay attention to their product descriptions. Not only do they enable customers to make informed purchases, they also help with SEO and driving traffic to the site.
- Start marketing. Once an online presence has been established, how will people know about it if business owners don’t do some marketing? There are several tactics to choose from including public relations, Google Ads, partnering with an influencer and social media marketing. Try a few options and see which one works best for the brand.
The longer SMEs don’t embrace e-commerce, the harder it becomes to make the move online. Ultimately, your survival in the digital economy depends on it.