How E – Commerce can be used to grow the South African Rural and Township Based Businesses

How E – Commerce can be used to grow the South African Rural and Township Based Businesses

Covid-19 has highlighted the fragility of economies and the vulnerability of poorer countries, emphasizing the growing and enduring inequality. Following the unforeseen Global Pandemic, which has yet to subside, these dreadful economic consequences could have a significant influence on the government’s ability to deliver services efficiently and effectively.

Global economies have altered, and as a result, the nature of how we work, how the economy functions, how society functions, and how we conduct business has shifted as well. The growing relevance of technology has accelerated the need for digital innovations, and as a result, more companies, particularly smaller businesses, are being forced to adapt to stay relevant and thrive.

These new technologies have encouraged South Africa’s rural and township communities to embrace the digital transformation, which has shown potential for revenue generation and so contributed to the decrease of unemployment and poverty in these areas. In 2019, the South African government stated that introducing and improving Digital Skills and ICT infrastructure in rural and township areas could enable everyone to participate in the fourth industrial revolution, motivating small business owners and entrepreneurs in informal settlements and townships to collaborate with the government to create a more vibrant and revitalised township economy. Technology has been offered as a tool to improve the lives of South Africans who live and work in rural and township areas.

One of the primary steps we feel could aid Township businesses in establishing a successful local recovery is increased access to digital skills to take advantage of opportunities provided by the digital economy. One of the most overlooked Digital Assets that we feel might aid Rural and Township-based organizations is a National E-Commerce site that would house all of these businesses into one, with a diverse digital embedding in the application.

Putting Together an E-Commerce Website:


E-commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet. Smart devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and other smart gadgets are used to carry out this action. Almost everything and everything can now be purchased through E-Commerce. Some could say it’s displacing.

For now, we’ll give an example of an E-Commerce Application that we believe can be used to better market Rural and Township-based businesses, and how an E-Commerce site can be used to help these businesses transition to the fourth industrial revolution, raise awareness of locally made products and services, and establish more credibility for locally owned businesses in these developing areas. Imagine an E-Commerce site called LocalConnect or TownshipConnect, where local residents and businesses work together to create long-term economic growth. This E-Commerce application will be centered in Gauteng, with firms in Soweto serving as a showcase, with a bigger goal of including all rural and township-based businesses from around the country.

  • Store Inventory Management System 

While most rural and township-based businesses are used to managing their stock manually, the introduction of a store inventory management system on the e-commerce site will allow registered businesses to run an efficient stock management process as well as assist them with generating sales reports, setting up automatic low inventory alerts when stock is decreasing, and managing orders.

  • Security

We must now address this key perception in order for customers to support and trust rural and township-based businesses. Some people are hesitant to make online payments because they are concerned about data theft and the theft of their personal information. It’s vital to keep clients’ payment card information, login credentials, and email addresses secure on the LocalConnect App. One approach to do this is to purchase an SSL certificate to demonstrate clients that their information is protected on the e-commerce site. An SSL certificate can be used by visitors to verify that the site they’re visiting is part of the linked domain name. In general, a website is deemed secure if it is protected by an SSL certificate.

  • Multiple payment options 

To address the aforementioned, the e-commerce site would need a well-known, well-established payment gateway that would put customers at ease right away. On the e-commerce site, customers can select from a range of payment methods, allowing them to use the one that is most comfortable to them. The most popular payment methods are credit and debit cards, but PayPal, EFT, Masterpass, Zapper, SnapScan, and a Cash on Delivery option should also be included on the e-commerce site.

  • Reporting tools and custom report features

The e-commerce site, in our opinion, should include monitoring and analytics tools and reports that allow registered firms to track their progress. These popular reports can be used to generate analytics, sales, acquisition, inventory, customer feedback, and marketing reports. Giving these businesses access to information about how their customers find them can aid them in making judgments about their marketing efforts, which products or services earn the most income, and which products or services they should improve. This will allow Township-based businesses to stay informed about their operations and provide them a fair shot to be more imaginative and grow their service offerings based on the reports created for them.

  • Easy-to-use checkout point

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication when it comes to the user experience on any new digital technology, such as Mobile Banking Apps. When making online purchases, customers commonly return to websites that are easy to use and have a smooth checkout process. As a result, ensure that all pertinent information is presented and that the customer understands the checkout process’ processes. Before going to the checkout point, we recommend a straightforward visual four-step approach with a receipt to confirm the customer’s order.

  • Social Media Marketing Integration

Having a digital footprint is crucial for rural and township businesses to survive in the fourth industrial revolution. We propose that each registered business have social media pages, and if they don’t, that they be assisted in building and managing those pages. These pages would be managed by LocalConnect App Social Media Interns who would manage the pages, communicate with the business owner about what should be posted, manage customer communication, and provide monthly reports on the business, as well as insights on how to increase their following and engagement to generate more sales, depending on the needs of the business. So, how do you think this would work in practice? This feature would have to be built into the website builder.

  • Customer Product Reviews Feature 

We must ensure that the e-commerce site allows registered businesses to obtain feedback on their products and services in order to grow as a firm by identifying both areas for improvement and what their consumers desire in order to build confidence in the community and with customers. Because the majority of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase, and will frequently look into other users’ experiences on the website, product reviews are vital. On an e-commerce website, customers can provide reviews, giving the brand credibility and potentially increasing sales.

  • Delivery and Logistics

This could be a new market for the LocalConnect App to explore. The logistics of putting goods into customers’ hands is an important but sometimes overlooked aspect of setting up an e-commerce store. This is a case of order fulfillment in action. It’s critical for business owners to be able to fulfil and close deals in order to make sales, especially in rural and suburban areas where transportation can be a challenge for some. As a result, customers may not come to your store to buy because they consider the total amount of money that would be spent to travel and return as well as purchase at your store, limiting their purchasing options.

  • Marketing for Small Businesses

The diversity of marketing possibilities available to Rural and Township businesses on an e-commerce website is one of the most significant advantages. The e-commerce site would be able to assist in attracting potential customers to their stores via search engines using SEO best practices and other plugins and add-ons. Users would be able to connect to social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn through this site. This will aid them in spreading the word about their businesses even further, which is exactly what they require now, in the aftermath of the global pandemic.

  • Data Security for the Site

We cannot stress how important this feature is to any e-commerce website.Customers can be wary of buying online because of fraud concerns. It’s important that the LocalConnect App conveys a sense of trust. It’s important that we ensure customers know that their credit card information, login details and email addresses are safe on the e-commerce website. This can be achieved by using reputable payment gateways and ensuring that customers have a way of reaching the business. One feature that can also be adopted in data security, is the OTP pin that goes directly to your mobile phone before you can login in and get to the site and a generated code when making a purchase online to verify the user.

  • 24/7 Customer Service and Client Support

Because their service options are confined by their geographic distance from clients, most Rural and Township-based businesses have found it difficult to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the cost of maintaining their own websites is also a factor. The majority of companies in rural and township areas are open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. One of the most popular industries in the townships is fast food. From Mamzo’s Magwinya to Spijos’ Kota to the chicken dust around the corner, there’s something for everyone. Customers would be able to see which businesses are open when and where they are located on this e-commerce site, and they would be able to make an order for pick-up or delivery.

To summarize, we believe that bringing rural and township-based businesses on board with the fourth industrial revolution is the best way to assist them, and while it may take some time for ICT infrastructures to be built in these communities, the LocalConnect App will allow them to continue operating their businesses in the comfort of their homes or chosen place of work, as well as having the opportunity to reach wider ventures that would be interdisciplinary.

The LocalConnect App would also make it simpler to use for both the entrepreneur and the customer. Customers can shop from any location and at any time because the LocalConnect App or e-commerce sites can be built as E-Mobile, which means they can simply operate on their mobile phones, as nearly 80% of people use their mobile phones to purchase online and conduct business. The most important feature we would recommend is security, as the site must comply with all payment card industry standards to protect personal and business data.

So maybe yes to LocalConnect? We think yes because it would save these small businesses money on overheads such as rent and utilities associated with having a physical storefront, as well as the time and effort required to get their locally produced products on the shelves of local spazas or large supply chain stores. This will allow rural and township businesses to concentrate their efforts on improving their service offerings in order to generate more sales with the help of this e-commerce site, as it will increase the likelihood of their businesses being marketered to a larger network, promoting growth. Because job opportunities in the Social Media and Logistics sectors are plentiful, we grow as they do.

 

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