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Online shopping edging up, but sub-Saharan Africans still don’t trust e-commerce

| Research tools

Although online shopping is growing, the majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa do not trust e-commerce yet, the GeoPoll survey released showed.

The survey was conducted in five African countries — Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana.

According to the survey, 60% of South Africans buy items online every few months compared with 45% in Kenya and 66% in Nigeria. At least 55% of Ghanaians and 51% of Ugandans have never bought anything online.

Many of those who had tried online shopping had only tried it once. Among the top reasons sighted for not frequently using online shopping sites were lack of trust, shipping costs, unsupported payment methods, or because a friend had a bad experience.

Many complained of unreliability of some sites, poor delivery and the purchase process. Others felt that there is no need for online purchases as the items were readily available at their local store.

The majority of shoppers in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda paid on delivery for items bought online. However, in SA, 50% of shoppers prefer to pay using their debit card and a further 26% use their debit card for online purchases. Cash on delivery in SA is also the preferred mode of payment at 20% compared to mobile money.

According to a recent KPMG report, in seven sub-Saharan countries, e-commerce makes up 1%-3% of gross domestic product, and is predicted to make up 10% of total retail sales in key markets by 2025, with 40% annual growth over the next 10 years. The total retail economy is projected to grow rapidly, along with the population as a whole and its spending power per capita.

Frost & Sullivan expects the e-commerce market that in SA to exceed 1% of total retail in 2016. This is still relatively conventional and lags global leaders by far, but the 1% mark does serve as a milestone that may entice major retailers to invest in an e-commerce presence in 2017.

The survey found many respondents across sub-Saharan Africa know of Black Friday, but "Cyber Monday" has yet to pick due to the challenges that e-commerce generally faces in Africa.

Most online shopping sites were keen to sell beauty and accessories, clothing and footwear and TV sets, the items did not pique the interest of many online shoppers except in SA where 31% of online shoppers went for clothing, 24% for beauty and accessories and household items attracted 24% of shoppers.

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