E-commerce has swept its quick and convenient hand over the West – they need no further convincing about the benefits of shopping from the warmth of their living rooms and skipping the queues and hustle and bustle outside. So successful has e-tailing become that bricks and mortar stores, small family businesses and neighbourhood shops have begun to feel the pinch. The same has not been true for Africa but in countries like South Africa, this looks to be changing.
On-line shopping has been slow to pick up on the continent. Huge companies like Kalahari have had to close their doors in Nigeria and Kenya due to a lack of profitability. Poor postal services and fear of on-line banking fraud have done little to persuade sceptical consumers to make the leap to shopping from home. But compared to a few short years ago, South African retailers have made leaps and bounds to increase their e-commerce branches, although many stores have a basic on-line ‘presence’ with contact details and company background information rather than an actual store and many products are only available in-store, it would now be very surprising not to at least see evidence of a local brand or boutique via the web. This is largely due to increased internet access, which South African research company World Wide Worx estimates will increase to 11 million South Africans by 2015. Even so, most of us are still only using the internet to send and receive emails, study, read the news and check bank balances.
What do South Africans buy online?
Purchasing items that do not require physical in-store handling is still at the top of the list for slightly wary shoppers – CDs and DVDs, airline tickets, home appliances and electronics are the most-purchased items according to World Wide Worx. Ladies’ clothing and accessories are also high on the list. The willingness of women to shop on-line has become increasing evident with the launches of new on-line shopping market places like Zando.co.za and 36 Boutiques.com. These retailers stock both local and international brands and follow the attractive, editorial, easy-to-use model of international e-tailers with exciting magazine interfaces that appeal to fashion-savvy female consumers.
Where are South Africans shopping online?
The most popular shopping destinations according to SouthAfrica.info, remain Mweb Shopping zone, Bidorbuy; Woolworths and PickPay for groceries; Kalahari.net, Exclusive Books, Look and Listen and Musica for CD’s and DVD’s; Digital Planet for electronics; Computicket and Netflorist.
I don’t think this is in any way the death of the almighty mall, but retailers and consumers alike are seeing the benefits of selling and shopping on-line. Not only from a convenience point of view for shoppers but as an extension to a business that could potentially see a global reach.