Increased Internet Penetration Offers More Opportunities for South African Entrepreneurs

The rapid growth of internet users in South Africa offers entrepreneurs a valuable opportunity to create their own successful e-commerce website


Cape Town, South Aftrica -- (SBWire) -- 09/10/2013 --Research conducted by the Digital Media Marketing Association shows that internet penetration has grown from 15% of the population in 2008 to 39% this year. According to the recent MasterCard online shopping survey, the revenue from online retail (excluding airline tickets) has grown from R2.6 billion in 2011 to R3.3 billion in 2012. This looks set to exceed R4.2 billion at the end of 2013.

Mark Chirnside, CEO of PayU which is South Africa’s largest internet payment service provider, has seen a dramatic rise in the number of small to medium businesses which are entering the online retail environment. “While there are a wide variety of products, templates and services available to an entrepreneur to help them create their own e-commerce website, careful attention must be paid in the planning stage to ensure the fundamentals are in place.”

The major cost benefit of online retail over traditional retail is the relatively low barrier to entry in terms of capital expenditure. According to Chirnside, this saving should be strategically invested during the conceptual phase of developing an e-commerce website by selecting the right service providers and ensuring the long term viability of the business.

While the look and feel of a website’s design is critical in appealing to the intended market, the following three factors are useful guiding principles when considering the architecture of an e-commerce website:

1. Scalability
The capacity to scale a business according to budget and customer demand is especially important in the early stages of the business development cycle. Aside from being able to meet the potential growing volume of online traffic, customer transactions and exposure to risk; the e-commerce platform must be designed to be able to upscale to provide more data rich content as internet speeds in South Africa improve.

2. Mobility
Access to the internet via mobile phone over other technology is growing rapidly worldwide, even more so in Africa. Nearly three quarters of the 35% of South Africans who access the internet, use their cell phone to go online, and this number is expected to rise. PayU are at a stage where any new e-commerce platform should be optimised for mobile access, with a view to introducing a mobile app as budget allows. Another option to consider is responsive web design which can be a simple and more cost effective way of ensuring that client’s e-commerce platforms can be viewed on all internet–capable devices. Research and analysis of the target market’s online habits should inform a client’s decision on the best route to choose.

3. Integration
Surveys from mature, international e-commerce markets cite the challenge of integrating multiple technologies and touchpoints into their e-commerce platform as one of their key frustrations. Consumers can engage with multiple touchpoints to make a purchase, and ensuring a consistent, interchangeable experience should be a major focus when developing an e-commerce platform. In addition to being compatible with different operating systems and other internet capable devices, the e-commerce website should be designed to integrate with back office systems, internet payment service providers, and traditional retail outlets if one exists.

About PayU and EasyMerchant
PayU is an online and mobile payments service provider. PayU Payment Solutions (Pty) Ltd (“PayU MEA”) enables and empowers businesses and individuals in the Middle East and Africa to safely transact and easily participate in e-commerce. With the launch of their innovative new service, EasyMerchant, PayU, has removed a significant barrier of entry for small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) who are keen to take advantage of the significant benefits of selling online. PayU’s vision is to be the most trusted payment gateway in the region for both merchants and consumers. For more information visit

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