Increasingly, South Africans are enjoying the convenience of shopping online. And at this time of year, when the jingly tunes and bright baubles joyfully adorn the tangible aisles of brick-and-mortar shops, e-commerce retailers are on high alert to strengthen their festive online and mobile marketplaces to lure customers in and put off any criminal activity.
“The season for shopping online for ‘startling deals’ is starting earlier and earlier. November commenced with ‘Singles’ Day’ deals on the eleventh of the month, and continued ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’. Online promises of massive ‘bargains’ are linked to enticing shoppers to download apps, fill their wish-lists and the like,” says Anton Jacobsz, MD of Networks Unlimited.
The ‘Singles’ Days’ sale is quite new to South Africans, but local retailers took advantage of its sweeping trend by offering 11%, 22% and 33% off goods. The day actually originated in China, where 11 November was initially a tongue in cheek celebration of single people in the country. E-commerce retailer Alibaba turned this day into a shopping discount event 10 years ago, and this year reported that sales from its Singles’ Day amounted to $25,3-billion, a 40% jump from the 2016 figures.
South Africa’s e-commerce is also on a growth trajectory, with the country’s online spend forecasted to grow to over R53-billion by 2018, with mobile spend projected to increase by 123% by 2018, according to Fin24.
“Online shopping is a very big deal,” says Jacobsz. “But its growth for both e-retailers and consumers is also dependent on the security, convenience and trust that every transaction offers — which is why a strong threat management strategy is essential for successful e-commerce.”
He points out that this threat strategy does not only include technology but also humans. “It being the silly season highlights the silly things that people do. Our personal guards are often more informal at the end of the year as fatigue sets in, opening a path for scammers to trip and trick us.
“My advice here would be to be overly cautious — that is, be suspicious of everything that ends up in your inbox and be extra cryptic with passwords. Also, it may be the season where sharing is caring, but beware of the sensitive data you share and with whom. Also, as I often warn my teenagers, don’t download every cool app you see and do not leave your tablet, smartphone and other personal devices lying around in full view for all to see.”
He stresses that it’s not only e-devices that should be secured, but also any official documentation. “Paper containing personal information is gold in an identity thief’s hands. ID numbers, e-mail addresses, mobile numbers, physical addresses — it is pretty astonishing how easily online fraud can take place with just a bit of private knowledge about the person.
“So, yes, unfortunately the threats are real. But, with sophisticated technology employed by trustworthy e-commerce sites, common sense from the shopper, and by both parties being on high alert, online retailers and shoppers can adequately arm themselves to enjoy a hassle-free shopping experience. I for one prefer the click and pay method to navigating a chock-a-block parking lot teeming with cars and trolleys at this time of year.
“So enjoy the convenience, but look out for the security and trust. Happy shopping and hope you find a few awesome deals to help you smile your way to the end of the year,” Jacobsz adds.