South African online retailers like Takealot are facing an increasing threat from international competitors such as Amazon, Wish, and Shein which are rapidly growing in South Africa.
While the true scale of online purchases from international stores is difficult to establish, an analysis of Android app ratings by MyBroadband found that the two most popular shopping apps in South Africa are Shein and Wish – both international B2C eCommerce platforms.
Shein is an eCommerce platform designed to provide women with fast fashion goods from China at cheap prices.
It competes directly with South African fashion retailers like Superbalist and Zando and is rapidly growing its market share in the country.
Wish is a US-based company that ships products from all over the world, but primarily the far east and China. The group has recently signed a deal with the South African Post Office to improve delivery times locally.
BusinessTech tested Takealot, Wish and Shein by ordering a product through all three services in the second week of May.
All three deliveries were scheduled for delivery to BusinessTech’s offices in Midrand.
Based on reader comments – and the fact that it was a local company – the expectation was that Takealot would be the clear winner.
This expectation was given credence when Takealot confirmed that the package would be delivered within two days of ordering. By comparison, Shein estimated delivery within six weeks of ordering, and Wish scheduled its delivery for the end of August – or four months after the order was placed.
|Company||Order date||Expected delivery||Actual delivery|
|Wish||10 May||Before August||26 May (collected 1 June)|
|Shein||13 May||Before 21 June||21 May (stuck in customs)|
|Takealot||14 May||16 May||16 May|
Takealot delivered its order within two days, well within the delivery timeframe and directly to the office door.
The parcel was well packaged in a Takealot-branded box and the delivery hand-off was quick and easy.
All items ordered were as they were presented, and in excellent condition.
Shein was the next service to confirm the order, with a tracking page on its website showing that the parcel was packaged and sent from China within a couple of days, and officially arriving at South African customs on 20 May – within a week of first ordering.
Here the delivery ran into problems, however, as Shein requires users to pay an additional tax fee to pass customs.
While the tracking page states that an SMS and email has been sent with the payment details twice, we have not yet received this message to date.
We double-checked our spam folders and contact details to ensure that this is information is correct. We also contacted Shein directly and the logistics company handling the delivery in South Africa, Buffalo, but have yet to receive a response.
As a result, the package has frustratingly been sitting in a warehouse in South Africa for over a week, with no clear indications on how or when it will be released.
The biggest surprise comes from Wish, which had scheduled delivery at the end of August.
Despite this long wait time, Wish sent an email notifying that the parcel had been delivered at the local post office on 26 May – just two weeks after it was initially ordered.
While the visit to the post office was slightly out of the way, the collection process was easy. After being asked to pay and additional R60 for clearance, the package was handed over neatly wrapped in black plastic.
Wish reviews often point to orders being a gamble, and some not receiving exactly what they ordered, look or sizes being incorrect, or getting something different entirely. Our item was what we ordered, though there was a size mislabelling (it was the right size, though the label didn’t state the correct size).
The impressive delivery from Wish is likely the result of a new deal that has been struck between Wish and the South African Post Office.
Wish said it will be working directly with SAPO to create a more consistent and efficient experience for customers in South Africa.
This will include:
- Average 50% faster transit times;
- End-to-end tracking visibility and delivery confirmation;
- Customers to receive bundled shipments for multiple items;
- SMS and physical notifications on deliveries awaiting collection.
On Tuesday (1 June), the post office said that several consignments from Wish have already arrived in South Africa since the agreement between the two companies came into effect.
The parcels in the first consignment have been collected by customers, and the Post Office urges customers who receive an SMS requesting collection to collect their parcel from their local branch.
“We want to deliver the kind of service our customers deserve,” said Post Office chief executive Nomkhita Mona. “In fact, our focus is now shifting towards an obsession with the customer.”