By Nic Laschinger, CTO, Euphoria Telecom
Online retail has boomed in the past two years. According to figures released by World Wide Worx earlier this year, online retail more than doubled to R30,2-billion up from R14,1-billion in 2018.
Factors driving this include the move to online shopping spurred by the pandemic and the need for people to stay home. While lockdowns have since eased and growth is expected to be slower this year, online shopping has become a firm feature of many consumers’ lives.
The pandemic has accelerated e-commerce adoption by three to five years’, according to a recent report released by Heavy Chef. Heavy Chef’s research shows that 72% of online shops generate less than R500 000 per year, and 59% are less than two years’ old. Sixty-four percent operate full time and they are mostly female run (63%).
Enabling these businesses to grow requires a mix of technology, networking and educational support. Euphoria was once a small business, and we understand the challenges these entrepreneurs face, particularly in tough economic times.
I’d recommend investing in technology tools that make your life easier, and free you up to focus on running the business rather than working in it. Here are my top three.
- Digital marketing tools – Gone are the days when businesses could develop small communities of regular customers via word of mouth. Without some digital marketing investment, online businesses will get lost in the noise. Look around, ask your fellow entrepreneurs and try them out first before committing. Many are available free for smaller businesses – win!
- Cloud-based telephony – No-one wants to be tied to their phone, or paying expensive bills for calls between team members. Sign up for a cloud-based VoIP telephony solution that has a mobile app which turns your cellphone into a landline phone, and means you can make interoffice calls free. It’s a time and cost-saver and means your customers will always be able to reach your business, on a single number, no matter how distributed your operation is.
- Security tools – Cybercrime has increased as people have begun to transact more online. For ecommerce providers this can be crippling. There are a plethora of free, reliable security tools for small businesses and they can literally mean the difference between continued trading or closure in the event of a breach. Training is also readily available and both you and your teams need to stay up to date on the threats you face in the online world.
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