South Africans have growing appetite for e-commerce – report

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South Africans have a big and increasing appetite for e-commerce, with lower costs, fast and flexible delivery and safer ways to pay proving driving influences on the growth in e-commerce purchases.

This is according to a recent study conducted in South Africa by global market research firm Ipsos on behalf of PayPal and FNB, which shows growing interest from internet users to shopping online. Of those surveyed, 22 per cent said they had made purchases online and 48 per cent expect to do so in the future.

“E-commerce penetration in South Africa is still relatively low by global standards”, said Efi Dahan, regional director for Africa and Israel at PayPal.

“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.”

Driving the growth of e-commerce are lower product costs, which 88 per cent of online shoppers said was a key factor, and faster delivery, which was referred to by 85 per cent of respondents. Flexible delivery options – 82 per cent – and safer ways to pay – 75 per cent.

In terms of what could boost the sector further, 71 per cent of online shoppers said if they did not have to keep re-entering payment or delivery details they would be more likely to shop online more often. Meanwhile, 51 per cent said not having to register on a website to make a purchase would make them shop online more often.

When it came to the main barriers for online shopping, 67 per cent of respondents said concerns over the security of payments is a reason for not shopping online, while 58 per cent of those who have not shopped online said concerns about not receiving items they have ordered was a reason for not doing so.

“Online security matters. This is why PayPal provides a simpler, easier and more secure way to shop and pay on millions of websites around the world,” said Dahan. “The fact that PayPal does not share financial information with the seller when authorizing a transaction reassures consumers that their financial details are more secure. PayPal also offers buyer protection for eligible purchases and can help protect consumers in cases where the purchased goods didn’t reach them, a big concern amongst South African consumers.”

South African consumers like coupons and promotions, with 85 per cent of online shoppers saying it would encourage them to shop online more often. Digital goods (purchased by 52 per cent of online shoppers in the past 12 months) were the most popular products bought via e-commerce stores, followed by event tickets (50 per cent), travel or transportation (45 per cent), and fashion, consumer electronics and physical entertainment (38 per cent).

The research also suggests there will be an increase in South Africans shopping online using mobile devices in the future. Around 50 per cent of online shoppers who own a smartphone or a feature phone have used it to shop online, with an additional 21 per cent expecting to do so in the future.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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