The growth of Internet penetration and online shopping in South Africa has seen the rapid adoption of e-commerce, and specifically m-commerce, strategies among retailers and businesses in South Africa.
However, the potential value of what is dubbed t-commerce, that is, browser-based tablet commerce, has not yet been fully explored, despite research illustrating the significant profitability potential of this segment.

This is according to Simon Leps, CEO of Fontera Digital Works, who believes that South African businesses can no longer ignore the significant growth that has occurred in the tablet market over the past year. “Latest research conducted by reveals that 92% of online South African consumers shop online with 18% opting to shop via their tablets. Furthermore, the tablet has once again been named the most desirable product of 2012, with 60% of online shoppers indicating their intent to purchase a tablet device in the future.

“With the rapid growth in tablet sales and online shopping figures, t-commerce is set to become a powerful retail platform in South Africa,” says Leps.

Although, e-commerce and m-commerce marketing strategies have been widely accepted in the South African retail market, the growth of online shopping indicates that t-commerce could provide retailers with an opportunity to utilise another effective retail platform.

“Firstly, tablets outperform all devices when compared to user experience and conversion. The age of clicking, scrolling and typing will soon be replaced by a new era of gestures that include touching, swiping and pinching on tablets and mobile phones. Secondly, global research conducted by Adobe revealed that tablet users generally consist of more affluent consumers who spend on average more than PC users.”

Leps indicates that retailers may inevitably be pushed into the t-commerce space due to the rapid movement of the market in this direction.
“According to the Adobe Digital Index, which analysed 23-billion Web site visits around the globe, Web site visits from tablet devices have risen by approximately 300% since 2011 and has grown at a rate ten times faster than mobile over the last two years. Additionally, tablet sales are expected to outstrip PC’s globally in 2013.”

However, Leps indicates that it may not be feasible for many South African companies to design an exclusive tablet site, as the costs may often outweigh the benefits. He does however indicate that there are alternative options available.

“Companies have the choice of developing separate sites designed for specific devices, such as the tablet. However there are additional approaches available that allow businesses to develop sites that respond and adapt to the user’s device of choice. While these approaches do not fully reap the rewards of the functionality of a tablet site, they do provide an economical solution in enhancing the users experience across all devices.”

“It is critical that businesses evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy that takes into consideration their customer needs, business requirements, limitations and most importantly the multi-channel experience of their brand,” concludes Leps.