Global lockdowns, social distancing regulations and industry-specific restrictions mean that 2020 has been a tough year for most with many feeling the financial pinch. Despite this, local online retailers and industry pundits expect a bumper sales period over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as shoppers avoid busy malls due to continued COVID-19 fears. As such, this year Black Friday will be more digitised than ever before.
High demand expected
Speaking to ITWeb online recently, Derek Cikes, commercial director at payments fintech firm Payflex, notes that the uptick in online shopping behaviour in SA is expected to continue beyond the pandemic. “The pandemic has turbo-charged the shift online in SA. Online retail sales grew by around 40% during lockdown, with some industries such as the alcohol sector having seen growth of over 100%,” he says.
“The number of new shoppers online will almost certainly flow into the Black Friday period, which I think in itself will drive even more adoption as people are still wary of being in crowded spaces and are likely to choose online Black Friday sales rather than go in-store.”
According to Takealot’s chief marketing officer, Julie-Anne Walsh, e-commerce businesses offer the safest, most convenient way to shop this festive season. “The fact that we’re an online retailer is more important than ever, as the world adjusts to social-distancing protocols.”
“We’re anticipating very high demand,” adds Craig Lubbe, CEO of bidorbuy. “South Africans became a lot more conscious of their health and safety during lockdown, and footfall in the malls has still not returned to pre-COVID levels, which suggests that consumers are – understandably – still wary of visiting stores in large numbers.”
Consumers are being discouraged from cramming into shopping malls over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, meaning that e-commerce is likely to boom over November, agrees Nicolet Pienaar, head of Market Insights at GfK South Africa. “Retail chains that have established robust online shopping facilities and logistics engines are likely to be some of the biggest winners of the month.”
This situation represents a pivotal moment for brands in the evolution of their omnichannel strategies, she adds. “The majority of consumers who increased their use of digital and omnichannel services, such as home delivery, curb-side pickup, click-and-collect or shopping via social media platforms will retain these habits, especially if they had a good experience.”
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