Woolworths has revamped its website with a fresh look and a number of new features to offer its customers an enhanced online shopping experience. Woolworths was recently lauded as one of the top online retail brands of 2013 and is regularly recognized as leading the retail sector in advances in digital and social media.
The new-look online shopping site now offers the full range of Woolworths products. “It features almost everything our customers would find in-store,” says Nikki Cockcroft, Head of Online at Woolworths. “From groceries to clothing, home, beauty and financial services, we’ve integrated all our services into one easy-to-navigate destination.”
“We’ve listened to thousands of Woolworths customers who wanted a simpler, more seamless integration between online and in-store shopping, with the added convenience of being able to access all their Woolies favourites no matter the time, place or device,” explains Cockcroft. “By using responsive design, their shopping experience remains exactly the same regardless of their device of choice – whether it’s a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.”
More than 2,000 respondents were interviewed during focus group sessions to establish what customers would most like to see from a new Woolworths online shopping experience. The results, which came from both in-store and online shoppers, formed the foundation of the development planning for the revamped site.
Cockcroft adds that Woolworths aimed to create a more enriching user journey through a stronger focus on unique content, more targeted product searches and a smarter shopping experience: “We have used integrated content to enrich the Woolworths online user experience. This means that customers can now shop by recipe, and even by trend which allows for a more personal and rewarding experience.”
Cockcroft says: “The type of content we will be sharing is practical information that our customers can use in their daily lives. It’s like having a really savvy and on-trend personal shopping assistant sharing the best tips on everything from easy-to-follow food recipes, how to care for certain fabrics and dressing for your body shape, to the latest trends, décor make-overs, beauty tips and how-to guides for parents.”
The content has strong social integration, and the site has been purposefully designed to be visually appealing with magazine-style photography and an array of beautifully shot how-to videos.
Although online sales have accounted for a relatively small percentage of Woolworths business to date, the company believes that South Africans will become more enthusiastic online shoppers as bandwidth connections become cheaper and faster, and customers become more comfortable with online and mobile shopping.
Woolworths reports that its number of online shoppers have doubled year on year. Traffic from smartphones increased by 38%, while 8% of traffic came from tablets. At the moment the majority of Woolworths online purchases are for food and household goods, and nearly half of online shoppers shop more than once a month. Although the majority of Woolworths online shoppers are women, the company is seeing more men joining the online shopping world, especially for special occasion gift buying. Most of Woolies online shoppers are based in the major metropolitan areas, with Johannesburg, Cape Town and then Durban leading the charge.
In a report released by World Wide Worx in May last year, it was found that e-commerce in the retail sector in South Africa has seen a 30% consecutive year on year growth since 2009. In 2011 alone, online retail sales figures in South Africa were recorded at R2 636 000 000 and it is expected that the contribution of e-commerce to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would increase to 2.5% by 2016.
E-commerce is growing with the advancements in technology and retail is catching up. South African consumers are steadily moving towards online and mobile shopping.
“Digital innovation and integration remains a strong focus for Woolworths and is an integral part of our strategy to meet customers’ expectations for convenient shopping. With all the digital advances our online offering will be an ongoing process of looking at how we conduct business online and ensuring an enriched, seamless customer experience,” concluded Cockcroft.
Woolworths has also managed to empower a business through its growing online customer base. Deliveries for Woolworths online shopping clients are done by Niche Logistics, a business benefitting from the Woolworths Enterprise Development programme.