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South Africans have warmly embraced online shopping, choosing to click and buy rather than travel and shop for multiple reasons. Initially, lockdowns added impetus to the move to online retail, but as the pandemic has waned and the appeal of instant access to local and global brands from the comfort of their own home has settled in, the country’s consumers are making their preference clear: 71% of South Africans intended to continue with online shopping post-pandemic, according to a Mastercard study.

Local online retail has come along in leaps and bounds as retailers hone their online offerings, and is anticipated to reach more than R400 billion per annum in value by 2025. This will come hot on the heels of online sales growing by 55% in 2020 and another 42% in 2021 and sees a couple of interesting trends emerging. 

The first trend is that small local businesses can expand the geography of their customer base, as efficient courier services like DPD Laser make it possible for them to deliver their products to more people, further away from their physical headquarters. 

The other key trend is that, while South Africans do indeed have access to more diverse local goods, they’re increasingly turning to international retailers for technology and fashion purchases, taking advantage of more affordable seasonal pricing and the convenience of having shopping from abroad arrive on their doorstep within as little as week from ordering, depending on the shipping origin and destination.  

Whether you’re a South African business intent on expanding your in-country customer base, or an international brand in the United Kingdom, Europe, or China that’s popular among local shoppers. It’s worth bearing in mind that the success of any sale depends massively on your last mile delivery partner, and whether they can be trusted to deliver on your brand promise while they’re delivering your product. 

While shoppers are likely to choose an online retailer if they find a special offer appealing, for example, or if they choose a product because it’s unique or exactly what they’re looking for, they’ll only go back to that outlet again if their delivery experience meets or exceeds their expectations. 

It’s the experience of that final physical connection of receiving the purchased item that plays a massive role in defining the shopper’s relationship with the brand, as they see the delivery partner as the brand’s representative. 

If the delivery partner hasn’t navigated the complex duty requirements of the South African Revenue Services, the shopper will experience delays and the frustration of having to pay unexpected import taxes. 

If the delivery partner doesn’t communicate with the customer by updating their shipment’s progress through customs and the final fulfillment process, they’re likely to get frustrated at the lack of information.

If the final delivery is fraught with complexity, such as unspecified delivery times, or even a dirty vehicle or a sloppy delivery person handing over the final parcel, the shopper is going to link the retailer to the substandard delivery experience at the end of their shopping journey.

What’s more, online shoppers are more likely to be social media savvy and they’re quick to complain on public platforms. If they’re going to complain about their delivery experience, they’re more likely to name and shame the retailer, and not its delivery partner. 

That’s why any brand – local or international – who has an online retail platform where South Africans are buying their necessities and luxuries must partner with a last mile delivery company that knows how to navigate the complexities of international retail and is proud to be the face of the brands that choose it to deliver their products. 

At DPD Laser, we’ve made it our business to build the best possible customer delivery experience for our clients. Our dedicated Express Delivery App sends regular updates and information about the delivery process to our customers. We’ve also recruited and trained our exceptional delivery experts who take care of each and every package as if it were their own. 

Our understanding of the customs and import duties system means that there are no unpleasant financial sacrifices that tarnish the final stages of an online shopping experience, with our duties payment interface being easy to use. 

Just as South African consumers’ propensity to shop online has grown, so have their online shopping expectations grown, and they’re wanting a premium experience every step of the way. Brands that want to keep them coming back for more – wherever in the world the online retailer may be located – need to be mindful of that when choosing who gets to deliver their products, and their brand experience, into the hands of their global customers. DM/BM

By Devon Light, International Executive at DPD Laser

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