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Online shopping in South Africa slowly taking off

| Economic factors

Many South Africans have shopped online, but their total spend is only a fraction of retail spend in South Africa.

Effective Measure, a provider of digital audience, brand and advertising effectiveness measurement and targeting solutions, interviewed 12,000 people recently about online shopping.

It found 56% of respondents had shopped online. As much as 48% of them were aged between 25 and 44. Most respondents lived in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

As much as 50% of respondents had a household income of R20,000 plus.

The respondents were educated, with 58% having a post matric qualification and they are economically active, with more than 60% working full time.

As much as 87% of respondents accessed the internet and 26% spend more than five hours on the internet daily. This is a significantly large number than those who watch television.

As much as 38% of the respondents were accessing the internet primarily through a mobile phone and 29% accessed it from a work or personal computer.

A staggering 59% of online shoppers preferred to do their online shopping on a desktop computer. This was while 27% preferred to use their mobile phone.

"I think people trust buying goods via a desktop computer as opposed to via a mobile phone. They feel their account details will be protected and the transaction will be safe," said Nicolle Harding, the Effective Measure lead for SA said.

This would shift in time.

Nevertheless, 59% said an "on delivery" payment option would motivate them to do more online purchases.

"There are various things which could inspire more online shopping. One of these is that the delivery of goods improves; that reliability improves thanks to better transport infrastructure. It’s a lot easier to get goods quickly in the US," said Harding.

Harding said she expected companies to take advantage of peoples’ growing use of mobile phones.

Mobile commerce in Africa was growing about 2.5 times quicker than e-commerce was.

This was even if online shopping still accounted for only a few percent of the value of annual shopping in South Africa.

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