South Africans spent R3,3bn shopping online in 2012, a figure that’s expected to grow to R4,4bn, or by 25%, this year. But with more people having access to the Internet, the proportion of consumers who shop in this way decreased compared to 2011.
Although South Africans are becoming more comfortable with shopping online using laptops and desktops, shopping using their mobile phones remains largely limited to buying smartphone applications and entertainment-related content.
These are some of the finding of MasterCard’s third annual Online Shopping Survey. The study includes data from South African research company World Wide Worx and was prepared by Agility Research & Strategy. For the study, 500 respondents between the ages of 18 and 64 were surveyed, all of whom have bank accounts and access the Internet at least once a week.
A key finding from the study is that 91% of South Africans who shop online are highly satisfied with their overall experience, a four percentage point increase from the 87% who said likewise in the 2012 survey.
In South Africa, e-mail remains the primary motivator for people going online, but more than half of the estimated 3,96m citizens who are highly active online are, according to World Wide Worx, shopping online. The most active demographic segment is men aged 35 to 44.
The leading online retailer in South Africa is Kalahari.net, with 46,8% of those who say they shop online reporting having made a purchase from the online retailer. Other popular sites for online shopping include Groupon, Amazon and Bidorbuy.
Plane tickets and other travel arrangements like hotel bookings attract the most expenditure from South Africa’s online shoppers. Tickets to events remain a popular online purchase category, although the spending on these is understandably substantially lower.
Of those surveyed who shop online, more than 76% reported returning to online stores they have used before, suggesting that the greatest obstacle for online retailers might be attracting customers rather than keeping them. This is reinforced by the fact that more than 90% of those who said they’d shopped online were satisfied with the experience.
Only 12% of respondents had purchased something online using their mobile phone in the three months before they were surveyed, a figure that is unchanged since 2011. However, mobile phones remain a popular means of researching products before purchasing them at bricks-and-mortar retailers.
Mobile banking applications are proving popular, a trend MasterCard expects to continue. Almost 30% of those with Internet access on their phones are using mobile banking apps.
According to the latest report, South Africans are shopping less frequently using foreign websites, with 29% of purchases coming from foreign sites last year compared to 34% in 2011.
The main barriers to shopping online, aside from connectivity, remain security concerns and the lack of a credit card. For those who are shopping online, the most common suggestion for retailers is to reduce delivery charges or additional service charges.
South Africans were clear about what sways their online purchasing decisions, with 90% of respondents saying that secure payment facilities and convenient payment methods were the most important considerations when making an online purchase. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media