This here game is more than the rep you carry, the corner you hold. You gotta be fierce, I know that, but more than that, you gotta show some flex, give and take on both sides.”

For the uninitiated, the above is a quote from Stringer Bell, one of the main characters of HBO’s The Wire. Often recognized as one of the best TV shows ever made, The Wire focuses on the law enforcement, drug trade, and political and educational systems of Baltimore, Maryland. I’m sure most of you have figured it out by now but yes, I’m quoting a drug dealer in an article about digital marketing. But listen: Stringer Bell isn’t just a drug dealer, he’s an entrepreneur; he even goes to business school!

Despite his illegal industry, what Stringer says about “the game” is true of any industry, and that includes the eCommerce game. In his own drug kingpin kind of way, Stringer is saying that in business, you need to be flexible and adapt when necessary; don’t be content with what you’ve built, but instead be passionate about improving upon it at all costs.

With the wise words of Stringer in mind, we created an infographic to outline the opportunity businesses have to take advantage of eCommerce and all the ways it’s changing the shopping game.


Be honest: if you had the choice between travelling 20 minutes to buy a product you don’t immediately need, or to purchase it online and have it shipped to you within three days, which option would you choose? Does your answer change if I pose the same question during the holiday season (or one of the other big shopping days)? An increasing number of us are choosing the eCommerce option, and why not? In today’s chaotic world, we’re all short on time, so if we can save an hour or even 30 minutes and spend it with our family or friends, most of us are going to do it. Nevermind the security risk of having your car or cellphone stolen at the shopping mall, an increasing concern amongst South Africans.

It’s not like retail stores and malls are completely extinct (although they’re certainly having issues in shifting to eCommerce). But there’s still something about window shopping along a corridor full of shops, and there’s no substitute for holding a product in your hand before you buy it.

There’s a time and place for shopping in a store, but there’s absolutely no doubt that eCommerce is carving out a larger share of the retail pie with each passing day…but we’ll let the stats do the rest of the talking.


Just a second ago I described the reasons consumers like having the option to shop online in terms of feelings and emotions (it saves time and is less stressful). While I believe I’m right in assessing the desires of consumers as a whole, I guess I cheated because there are actually hard facts that back me up.

In 2015, online retail giant Amazon was responsible for 24 cents out of every dollar of US retail growth. So a quarter of all new retail growth ran through Amazon, which is just one eCommerce channel. As it turns out, Amazon is responsible for over half of every dollar in eCommerce growth. Needless to say, Jeff Bezos has Amazon in a league of their own, but the good news is the pace of eCommerce growth means there are enough seats at the table for everybody to play the game.

In South Africa, eCommerce is still a small chunk of the retail pie, with an estimated R6-7 billion generated by eCommerce sites in 2015. This is expected to grow at 25%-35% year-on-year. In a 2015 study done by IPSOS on behalf of Paypal, 22% of Internet users in SA say that they have made purchases online with 48% expected to do so in the future. Those are not numbers to be sneezed at.


No surprise here, but 85% of retailers expect an increase in 2016 eCommerce revenue, and with the number of online shoppers in South Africa expoected to triple, this is a market you want to get into. The key is understanding that entering the eCommerce game isn’t an automatic moneymaking ticket. Just like anything else, you have to work at, adapt and expand what you have in order to continue making more.

There is more than one way to setup an online store, not to mention dozens of technology platforms and integrations with which to build your shop. Yes, most businesses expect to make money selling their products and services online, but that expectation alone isn’t enough – make sure you go out and earn it.


Mobile payment sits at the intersection of eCommerce and traditional retail because it exists in both worlds. Services like Snapscan and Zapper have made digital transactions so much safer and easier. Eventually, it’ll be the standard eCommerce practice, and within the realm of traditional shopping, it’s a technological advancement that makes life easier for consumers who do still venture out to retail locations, especially non-traditional retail sites like markets and spaza shops.

Case in point: 63% of retailers plan to accept Apple Pay within two years. If you’re a brick and mortar retail store, it’d be a wise idea to start accepting mobile payments as soon as you can. And if you’re launching an eCommerce business or already have one, make sure your platform accepts mobile payments.


I imagine small businesses have a hard time hearing that over 50% of eCommerce runs through Amazon simply because of how unbelievable it seems. But given that over half of South African Internet users plan to buy something online in the next year, there’s a lot of money to go around. When you look around the Internet for smaller South African online retailers, the pickings are pretty slim, as the space is dominated by larger retailers like, bidorbuy, yuppiechef, spree.

Look at it this way: you don’t have to go out and start the next It’s much simpler. People like to buy products and services online, so if you’ve got something valuable to offer, why not make it available for online purchase?


These days, everything in digital marketing is about phones and tablets, and with good reason: we’re becoming more dependant on those devices. But in an interesting twist, 2015’s eCommerce spending by device breaks down as follows: 72% on a desktop, 15% on a smartphone and 13% on a tablet. So for the time being, yes, the desktop is hanging on. Even with fully responsive websites and mobile apps, people prefer to shop on the full version of a company’s website.

Why? My best guess is the larger screen offers consumers a semblance of the sensory experience they have while shopping in a store. We’re used to seeing, touching and engaging with things while we’re shopping, and that doesn’t happen online. But a desktop offers a more visual experience than a phone or tablet, so in some ways this probably makes consumers feel more comfortable buying something they’ve never held.

In South Africa, 70% of smartphone users have used their devices to buy something online, and 94% of mobile device owners have used their device to search for information on products and compare prices. So that pretty much means you need to have every device type covered.


That’s all we’ve got for this edition of our monthly infographic, but be sure to check back next month to see what we come up with for April. Here’s the full infographic, for your sharing pleasure:


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