Lower prices, convenience lures SA shoppers online

A new survey out on Wednesday (April 18, 2012) revealed that 58% of South Africans using the Internet shop online – up from 53% in 2010, and 44% in 2009.

The MasterCard Worldwide Online Shopping Survey found that, when choosing an online retailer, the majority of respondents cited lower prices (91%), payment convenience (90%) and secure payment facilities (90%) as their main motivators for doing so.

Respondents stressed that websites should have a good reputation, be user-friendly, and that the online retail provider of choice should offer low or no extra charges for delivery.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” says Anna Jones, GM, South Africa, MasterCard Worldwide.

“The latest MasterCard survey found that among those shopping online, a majority 89% of respondents are satisfied with their overall online shopping experience, with 73% likely to make a purchase in the next six months.”

“While these responses have remained static since last year, they show that the level of satisfaction has remained consistent as the number of online shoppers has grown.”

The survey was conducted across 25 markets between December 5, 2011 and January 6, 2012. The South African report surveyed banked consumers who access the Internet at least once a week. They were asked questions about their online shopping habits.

The survey and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard’s financial performance.

“The findings back up our research into the way online shopping evolves,” said Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, which conducts annual studies on the size of the online retail market.

“We have shown that, once people are experienced Internet users and go online regularly, their propensity to shop online increases dramatically. The key is to convert that propensity into shopping behaviour, and this survey pinpoints where and why that conversion is happening,” he continued.

South Africans who shop online do so because they find it convenient and easy, and that the wide range of goods available is appealing.

They also look to online portals to research purchases they are planning on making with 78% of online shoppers saying that they look at online reviews before they purchase, while 73% said that they investigate online reviews of the retailer themselves before making a purchase.

Three quarters of respondents said that they would return to an online retailer from which they had already made a purchase.

As many as 95% of respondents mentioned that they had visited deal or coupon websites, while a quarter of visits to these sites ended in the purchase of a deal.

“This shows how the online world can work in tandem with the bricks-and-mortar environment, with online spend driving spend with conventional outlets,” said Goldstuck.

The research also revealed increases in the number of people who are shopping online (versus offline) for travel purposes: 87% of respondents (up 10% from 2010) have made purchases from airlines and 71% (up 9% from 2010) have made hotel bookings online in the last three months.

On the opposite side of the coin, South Africans revealed that they prefer not to shop online for their groceries, with only 9% making this their first choice to avoid the chore of grocery shopping. This is a decrease to the previous survey’s result of 27%, showing a18% decline.

“We’ve also found that online grocery shopping has declined , mainly because people want to choose fresh products personally, delivery schedules are too inflexible and too many mistakes are made by in-store stock pickers,” Goldstuck noted.

When it comes to paying for online purchases, the majority of respondents (84%) use payment cards or EFTs or a combination thereof.

Security is less of an issue than it has been in the past years, with 38% of respondents saying that they are not convinced that the medium is safe. This is down from 47% in the last survey, which itself was a drop from the 59% of the 2009 results.

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Lower prices, convenience lures SA shoppers online