The rise of online shopping in South Africa is steadily increasing. With the pressure on the work force to work longer hours, and with post-work commitments such as a family and studying, many are opting for this option.
Companies such as Woolworths and Mr Price offer fantastic online shopping sites, and consumers are able to return clothing at no cost. Furthermore, online grocery shopping is a great way to save queues at the end of the month in stores, as well as avoid buying unnecessary items from the checkout aisle.
Despite the increase in numbers, South African consumers still remain cautious about buying goods online. Sites such as Amazon deliver globally, but consumer perception of safety remains poor. Kalahari and Take A Lot offer fantastic deals on goods that many retailers cannot match. So the question is, why aren’t we taking full opportunity of this? According to an article in the Business Day, “Compared with developed economies, South Africa has been relatively slow in its uptake of online shopping, due to low internet penetration in households. However, some firms expected gradual roll-out of cheaper broadband, as well as increased usage of mobile smartphones, to be a kicker for e-commerce.” This suggests that the potential for consumers in the South African market to use online shopping is high, but retailers need to be clever in the way they portray themselves and their sites.
Online shopping portals need to show their credibility and safety to the consumer. They need to ensure that the consumer is fully aware that they are on a safe and secure site, and this should be a big feature on the site. This means that security icons need to be extremely visible, especially to the new internet user, who is sceptical of the internet as it is. These generations are usually the “veterans” and the internet is in general, a foreign concept to them. The above mentioned article in the Business Day goes on to say “… explicit assurance of security of transactions would improve the online shopping experience. A number of respondents recommended “protection against unscrupulous websites”.”
In conclusion, we as consumers need to be educated on online shopping in South Africa, we need reassurance and convincing in order to participate in this global move towards e-commerce retailing.