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Social commerce is manna from heaven for SA’s little bus…

Retail Capital chief executive, Miguel da Silva, says the trading days surrounding Black Friday can provide a significant liquidity boost for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) if approached properly and managed carefully – provided they leverage e-commerce and are seriously looking into social commerce.

According to that 2022 South African Digital Customer Experience Report, Social commerce is quickly taking over the traditional e-commerce world, with platforms like Facebook and Instagram now accounting for a whopping 48% of all online purchases. With around 30 million South Africans, or roughly half the population, using social media, the disruption caused by social commerce is making many business owners and brand managers sit up and take notice.

While Facebook and Instagram dominate this new commercial goldmine, WhatsApp is also a strong contender as more brands use the platform to target their markets in a personal and instant way. Thirty-one percent of respondents cited instant messaging platforms as their preferred way of shopping online – a strong indication that this is not a short-lived trend but a new way forward.

There is no doubt that people, and therefore potential buyers, are on social media. Consumers spend an average of 2½ hours a day using social media on their phones, which is why brands like Woolworths and H&M are embracing Black Friday as a significant annual social commerce opportunity.

For years, big-name brands have had the advantage that have staggering marketing budgets for their own airwaves, Google, and every other platform they come across. Thanks to social selling, with its low barriers to entry and the cost-effective buying power of engagement, the playing fields have now been leveled and SMBs can benefit from direct access to consumers who are scrolling, searching and shopping.

“With Black Friday approaching, followed by the festive season, this is the time for small businesses to prepare and plan to secure their piece of the pie,” says Da Silva. “The uptick in social media sales puts them in an excellent position to make the most of the holiday season by leveraging Facebook Marketplace, Google Marketplace, WhatsApp and Instagram.

“We’ve seen a clear trend in the small businesses funded by retail capital. They invest in social commerce — especially in the early stages of their business when cash flow is traditionally tight — to market their product and build brand awareness.”


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Following this trend is a significant number of SMEs, who opened their doors during the Covid-19 lockdown and are thriving two years later (due in no small part to the understanding and adoption of e-commerce).

One such “Covid Business Baby” is repriced.co.za, a small but growing beauty and cosmetics company that used funding from Retail Capital to thrive during lockdown. In January 2021, founder Kyle Stevens launched his website, supported by a Facebook advertising campaign.

“Within a day, I had my first sale,” he says. “I made a profit in my first month of trading and doubled it the next month, with the same trend for the following six months.

“Since then, the company has experienced annual growth of 127%, with total sales of R1.1 million in 2021 and almost R2 million in 2022 to date. There is no doubt that our social media advertising campaigns got us through it.”

According to online payment platform PayFast, The average basket size for Black Friday is 55% larger than the average basket size for the rest of the year. And some of the country’s largest retailers are maximizing their use of social commerce this year.

Mass retailer Game is venturing into social commerce via a Game-branded Roblox game. The game launched on November 21st and had already given away R30,000 as of Thursday morning. The Black Friday Game mixes the South African culture and the fantastic in a challenge of racing through a downtown neighborhood. Players can use potholes as portals, party at rooftop DJ gigs, and dodge exploding pigeons as they battle for the top of the leaderboard.

The challenge is to find eight comet fragments around the city block – and those who can do it in the shortest amount of time win real prizes. Each day, the top player wins R5,000 in vouchers, second place R3,000 and third place R2,000. The competition ends on November 28th, although the game will still be available to players on Roblox.

“We’re excited about this launch as we open our brand to new audiences,” said Katherine Madley, Game’s vice president of marketing. “We’ve seen the incredible growth of the gaming sector around the world and heard consumers calling for more innovative approaches from brands.”

Adding that the brand plans to continue expanding its metaverse-based offering, Madley encourages consumers to keep an eye out for updates on that.

“We don’t see this platform as a one-off project, but as an ongoing, integral part of our brand going forward. We are working to ensure that we drive this type of innovation across our business and plan to expand this offering.”

The game is open to all ages; However, players must be at least 13 years old to win the vouchers, and vouchers can be redeemed for any product that stocks the game.

Discovery Bank is getting into the game with a #discoveryhack contest on Twitter. Until Friday, consumers (you don’t need a Discovery Bank account to participate) simply need to take a screenshot of any Black Friday offer from one of Discovery Bank and Vitality’s partners and tweet @Discovery_SA with the image and #HackBlackFriday. If you add a reason why you love Discovery you could win the product in your screenshot up to a value of R5,000.

Online shopping platform Takealot is is conducting a “live shopping” campaign on the social media platform Instagram. Every hour there will be a 15 minute slot in which Takealot will issue coupon codes to the first 100 to 200 consumers who interact with the Takealot account. The coupons can then be used for an increased discount beyond Black Friday sale prices on specific items. DM/BM

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