What’s driving online shopping in SA?

Research shows that South Africans have a big appetite for e-commerce, with lower costs, fast and flexible delivery, and safer ways to pay big contributors to growth online.

A recent study conducted by Ipsos in South Africa shows a growing interest in online shopping.

The Ipsos study, conducted in association with PayPal and FNB, surveyed a representative quota sample of 501 adults who made use of a PC, mobile device or tablet to access the Internet in the past six months.

Of these users, 22% said they have made purchases online and 48% expect to do so in the future.

“E-commerce penetration in South Africa is still relatively low by global standards”, said PayPal’s Efi Dahan. “However, the number of online shoppers is expected to nearly triple in South Africa, making the country a significant e-commerce force in the region.”

The key drivers of online shopping are:

  • Lower product costs – 88% of online shoppers say this is important.
  • Faster delivery – 85% of online shoppers say this is important.
  • Flexible delivery options – 82% of online shoppers say this is important.
  • Safer ways to pay – 75% of online shoppers say this is important.

Seven out of 10 online shoppers indicated that if they did not have to keep re-entering payment or delivery details, they would be more likely to shop online more often.

One out of two (51%) South African online shoppers indicated that not having to register to a website to make a purchase would make them shop online more often.

When asked about the barriers to online shopping, 67% of non-online shoppers said online security of payments is a reason for not shopping online.

58% of people who have not shopped online say that concerns about not receiving items they ordered is a reason they don’t shop online.

eCommerce in South Africa
eCommerce in South Africa

The study also revealed the most popular products among local online shoppers. The most popular shopping categories for South Africans online are:

  • Digital goods – purchased by 52% of online shoppers in the past 12 months
  • Event tickets – purchased by 50%
  • Travel or transportation – purchased by 45%
  • Fashion, consumer electronics and physical entertainment – purchased by 38%

Looking at future behaviour, 58%-70% of online shoppers indicate that they expect to spend the same or more on those categories online next year.

eCommerce in South Africa
eCommerce in South Africa

Increased Use of Mobile Devices in the Future

The research also suggests a future increase in South Africans shopping online using mobile devices.

About 50% of online shoppers who own a smartphone or a feature phone have used it to shop online, while an additional 21% expect to do so in the future.

Significantly, mobile phones are making shopping more convenient. 70% of mobile shoppers use their phone to shop from their home or office.

Searching on mobile devices when shopping is also a common trend with 94% of mobile shoppers saying they use their phone to search for information about products, stores or businesses.

In addition, 62% of mobile shoppers use their phone to compare product prices while shopping in store.

In regard to browser preferences, 45% of mobile shoppers prefer to shop by using an app while 26% of mobile shoppers prefer to shop from a mobile browser.

However, some barriers remain to mobile shopping, including 51% of those who have shopped on a mobile stating that the experience is not user friendly while 42% flag security concerns when shopping from mobile.

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What’s driving online shopping in SA?