Online shopping rapidly increasing in South Africa

Emerging markets research firm, Jana, has recently released insights on the e-commerce preferences of African consumers in Nigeria, Kenya & South Africa. Over 600 consumers were surveyed in each country, measuring the retail preferences of online shoppers.

The research reveal that South Africa is presently the continent’s largest e-commerce market with players like Zando, MIH Internet Africa’s Kalahari and ranking high. Further to this, research by World Wide Worx indicates that online retail in South Africa is currently growing by about 30% annually.

According to Mark Chirnside, CEO of PayU, the payment gateway which facilitates, amongst others, safe payments on, the company has seen a change in the way South Africans approach online shopping: “South Africans are gaining confidence in online shopping. We have definitely seen an increase in people who shop online – more than in any other period.”

South Africans sited the convenience factor as the greatest advantage to shopping online, whilst delivery time drew the opposite reaction: 37.86% of local consumers indicate this as being the largest obstacle for buying products online. A perceived lack of security also influences online shopping behaviour with 14.41% of respondents citing this as an obstacle to them buying products online. For this reason, many online businesses are opting for payment gateways (like PayU) that are PCI compliant, an industry standard which sets the benchmark for safe and secure payments online.

Cash-on-delivery still ranks high among South Africans, with 53.6% indicating that they prefer this method of payment for their online purchases. According to Java’s research, 20.6% of local online buyers prefer to pay for online goods or services by using their credit cards.

Says Chirnside: “The convenience factor will be the key issue influencing future shopping behaviour. Every day we see small to medium businesses that opted to sign with PayU EasyMerchant, reap the benefits of having an e-commerce facility on their site – consumers expect to be able to connect with brands and companies online by being able to buy a particular service or product without delay.”

Further insights reveal that OLX is South Africans’ most preferred website for purchasing online goods, followed by Zando, Kalahari, eBay and Gumtree. Only 20.6% of South Africans have never bought products online, with 19.43% indicating they ‘always’ buy online compared to the 15.58% and 31.83% who indicate they shop ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ respectively.