Online shopping in South Africa is continuing on an upward trend according to leading audience measurement, modelling and verification company, Narratiive.
Looking at the future trends of South Africa’s online shopping in 2019 and beyond, Greg Mason, Narratiive’s regional lead for sub-Saharan Africa, says he anticipates that online shoppers will become more comfortable shopping online using their mobile phones.
“With the proliferation of services like Uber, Order In, Mr Delivery, etc, people are getting more accustomed to using their mobile devices to make purchases online and especially from their mobile devices,” he says.
“Secondly, from the age brackets, it is evident that in-store shopping is still a popular experience and outing. In South Africa, we have some way to go before e-commerce becomes a regular means of shopping, especially for the younger age groups,” he adds.
Mason and Narratiive released the South Africa E-Commerce Industry Report 2018 at the end of last year, which provides brands and their marketing agencies with a snapshot of e-commerce and online shopping behaviours and insights from a sample of almost 8 000 South African internet users.
“This is a neutral, non-incentivised survey that collects authentic responses which offer a unique insight into consumers’ attitudes towards online and offline shopping and their respective purchasing processes. The results reveal online purchasing frequency, the most commonly purchased products, the main deterrents for online shopping and specific motivators that could convince offline shoppers to trade physical shops for online stores,” Mason explains.
Compared to the 2017 report, the 2018 version shows a continued upward trend, with 44% of offline shoppers saying they anticipate making an online purchase in the next 12 months, while 73% of online shoppers say that they’ve either maintained or increased their online shopping habit in the last 12 months.
“Interesting surprises from the report are, firstly, purchasing of travel tickets declined from 22% in 2017 to 10% in 2018. Secondly, online shoppers on mobile devices grew from 27% to 38% of total online shoppers from 2017 to 2018,” Mason points out.
Another surprise, he adds, and as per last year’s survey, the respondent pool of online shoppers were older than the offline shoppers with 40% of online shoppers are over the age of 50 while 48% of offline shoppers were under the age of 35. “We believe this is evident for two reasons: the mall is still a popular outing and activity for younger generations and secondly, availability to credit cards may limit the online shopping activity of youth, students and young professionals”.
Breaking down the demographics reveals the over sixties are the largest group of online shoppers (22%); 56% of online shoppers are male and Gauteng accounts for the greatest amount of purchases by region (42%).
The majority of South Africa’s online shoppers have attended university and completed an undergraduate degree (37%), while 43% of offline shoppers listed matriculation as their highest level of education.
Most online shoppers are in the professional and technical fields (26%), followed by administrative and managerial employment (22%).
Only 6% of respondents did their online shopping weekly, while the majority (43%) said they shopped online less than once every three months; 11% of respondents shopped between two to four times per month.
Amongst the most popular online purchases were books, travel tickets and tickets to shows/sporting events.
Trusted payment methods and free delivery
Offline shoppers stated that their primary reasons for not shopping online are because they are simply not used to it, or do not trust online payment methods.
Convenience, special offers and choice remain the primary reasons of shopping online. Offline shoppers indicated that trusted payment methods and free/cheaper delivery would make them feel more comfortable shopping online.
The preferred payment method of online shoppers is credit card (41%) and debit card (24%), whereas offline shoppers prefer cash.
From offline to online
Forty-four percent of offline shopper respondents think they will make their first online purchase in the next 12 months. They would feel most comfortable making a bill payment online, or making an online order from a restaurant.
22% of online shoppers frequent use social media to guide online purchases, and 57% use price comparison sites before shopping online, while 60% subscribe to product or store emails.
Mason says that he anticipates a future where people will do their browsing and research in store and then purchase online based on price. He says, “So the in store experience will need to be aspirational, on trend and intriguing while e-commerce needs to focus on convenience and price”.
Bettina Moss is an inspirational writer, motivational speaker, GlowCoach, intuitive counsellor, mentor and presenter in the field of personal growth and development. She founded GloWoman in 2010.