Some people believe, and we agree, that it’s just a matter of time before everybody on planet Earth is shopping online. Up to now the biggest limiting factor to getting South Africans to shop online has been a lack of access to the Internet. But the advent of smart phones is changing all of this, and the penetration of the Internet is growing at a phenomenal pace.

Against this background we conducted a large sample survey (11,828 respondents) of economically active South Africans (those living in households with a monthly income of more than R10,000 a month) to find out everything we could think of about their online shopping needs, perceptions and behaviours.

Here are some of the things we discovered about online shopping in South Africa:

  • There’s not much demographic difference between an online shopper and a non-online shopper. Demographically they are more or less the same, although online shoppers do tend to be wealthier. Where they are different, is in the fact that online shoppers are far more tech savvy than their non-online shopping cousins.
  • Smart phones look set to be the online shopping devices of the future both for browsing and placing orders, as well as for making payments.
  • South African online shoppers have more faith in retailers who offer both online shopping and physical stores than they do in retailers who only offer online shopping. It will take time for the online only retailers to gain the trust and confidence that South African consumers have in the retail chains (with stores) who have been around for many years.
  • South African online shoppers really like the idea of being able to earn loyalty rewards for shopping online.
  • Very few people shop for groceries online, yet this category scores highest as being the category where most people would really like to shop online.