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eCommerce in Southern Africa is Just Taking Off and Neuromarketing Can Help

When prompted to think of hot spots for eCommerce, Sub-Saharan Africa probably isn’t your first thought. However, it is currently the perfect melting pot of conditions for eCommerce to make a huge impact. Here’s why, and how Neuromarketing can help you jump on board.

Current eCommerce Use

Internet user penetration in South Africa is currently predicted to reach 59.5% in 2020. Although smartphone penetration is currently less (approximately 30%) it is predicted to grow to 37.2% in the next few years.

Currently, the leading product category for online shopping in Sub-Saharan Africa is electronics and media, followed by furniture and appliances. 54% of South African shoppers prefer to pay cash on delivery, as many South Africans do not have access to credit. 52% also like to pay with a debit card.

Some of the bigger players across the African continent include eCommerce sites like TakeALot, Jumia and Kilimall, which act as giant virtual department stores with a huge range of products, many of which aren’t commonly sold in the brick and mortar stores that most Africans have access to.

Why is eCommerce an ideal option for African consumers?

Made up of several developing nations, Southern Africa has limited infrastructure, particularly in less urban areas. This means that a large portion of the population has, at best, limited access to conveniences like shopping malls or department stores. Thanks to internet penetration, the demand for more niche or luxury items is higher than what local stores can affordably supply. eCommerce, on the other hand, makes a wider variety of products available to virtually anyone with an internet connection.

eCommerce also requires a smaller initial investment to get started than a brick and mortar store would, while providing wider customer reach. This makes it an appealing option for many South African entrepreneurs, who have a great product or service but not enough resources to open a physical store.

As mobile penetration increases and internet becomes faster, eCommerce is something to which more and more South Africans will have access. This, coupled with the advances in technology that allow for more secure transactions, means that people may be less likely to hesitate in making purchases online.

What to take into account

If you’re thinking of starting an eCommerce venture in Africa, bear in mind that:

Formal addresses are not always the norm. In rural areas or informal settlements, it can be rare for street names and numbers to be demarcated. You need to ensure that your delivery is flexible, and you’re able to contact the buyer directly to arrange delivery. Sasha Poignonnec, co-CEO of Jumia, talks about how they use local liasons in smaller areas to coordinate the final delivery, as they understand how to navigate the area. Alternatively, eCommerce services can have pick-up points set up.

It's also important to remember that Southern African consumers don’t have access to credit. It is therefore important to offer a wide variety of secure payment methods, such as Snapscan, cash on delivery, EFTs, etc.

How can Neuromarketing help?

A big mistake that people make is thinking that they can treat African markets like Western ones and enter with the same User interface design and UX strategies. African consumers have their own cultural nuances, aesthetic preferences and ways of visually navigating information – you owe it to them to ensure that your platform is optimised for them.

If you’d like to see how neuromarketing can help you first hand, why not join the Neural Sense team at the ECOM2020 event at the CTICC in Cape Town on the 8-9 of April 2020. We’ll be demonstrating some of our neuroscience technologies at the exhibition and will also be presenting a keynote address on the role of neuromarketing to optimise user experiences. Here’s a hint: it’s all about emotion…

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