February 10, 2015

Online Shopping Routines - South Africa

By Nicholas Hodge, Country Manager, South Africa

Empowered by technology, consumers use every channel available to make purchasing decisions, particularly on mobile. This has led to the rise in online shopping in many markets, including South Africa.

There is clear growth of online shopping in South Africa and the number of online shoppers among our South African audience continues to rise. By Nov 2014, nearly three quarters of South African mobile surfers visit online shopping sitesIn a similar study in earlier in the year (April 2014) we found just as many South Africans shop with their PC’s (26%) as they do with mobiles (26%).

It is little surprise then that Woolworth’s Online says that their online retail has seen 60% Year-on-Year growth online. Similarly, Pick n Pay Online revealed that it’s grown by 27% since 2013.

How often do you visit online shopping sites?
Shopping online has also become a habitual practice and reflects the pattern of traditional shopping behaviour. Among 37% of online shoppers, planned purchases happens on a weekly (16%) or monthly (21%) basis. This is probably the result of budget or time constraints since the physical proximity of shops is no longer a consideration in online shopping.

But worthy of note are the 18% who visit an online shopping site often (but irregularly) – almost daily! These ‘new shoppers’ buy only when they need to - enjoying the convenience to browse different sites for variety or better offers. Now, nearly 1 in 5 of South African surfers shop online on a daily basis. This trend is expected to grow, with fewer people ‘stocking up’ during their weekly or monthly shopping.

The value of a web presence is best highlighted by the 27% of shoppers who, despite only browsing products online, are likely to recommend their preferred sites to others. Not surprisingly, 32% who are satisfied with their purchases are likely to make similar recommendations.

Clearly, retailers who are still ambivalent about a web or mobile presence are likely to loose out as more people turn to the Internet, if only to browse products to research upcoming purchases. Far from being a threat, digital can boost in-store retail but merchants will need to re-think their business models to see how digital, in particular, mobile can play a strategic if not central role.