Online shopping picks up speed in South Africa


Despite disagreeing on its growth rate, companies say online shopping will experience growth as consumers turn to the Internet to cut shopping costs. A survey conducted by Neotel's consumer division reveals consumers are turning to online shopping as it offers significant savings. The report concludes that local online retailing is growing at an average rate of 35% a year and consumers can save an average of 20% by migrating to shopping online.

According to the survey, consumers experience savings by reducing driving costs, which include petrol wasted sitting in traffic, as well as vehicle wear and tear. Reduced shopping time also incurs savings, as well as the reduction in impulse buys, usually of items strategically placed to tempt customers.

Increased awareness of online shopping and a focus on cost saving measures also led to the growth of online shopping, the survey states. Convenience was also a key contributor, as consumers benefitted from 24-hour delivery times from some suppliers.

The survey also states online shopping is becoming increasingly safe and this has attracted new shoppers. As Web sites become fraud-proof, with the latest security technology and encryption techniques, online shopping has become secure for consumers, the survey states.

Neotel is encouraging people to shop online, because of the savings, and take advantage of the benefits of the Internet, saying: “The Internet not only allows you to harness global information, but also conduct commerce with the click of a button.”

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says online shopping growth rates are lower than the survey says - but there will be a slow but steady growth over the next three years. He notes that a boom in online shopping was experienced between 2006 and 2008, with a 20% growth rate for 2008 and 10%-15% for 2009.

Goldstuck says that, even though consumers are increasingly price conscious, there is no benchmark on how much one can save. That depends entirely on where a consumer shops, he explains.

“The saving comes from shopping around. You don't necessarily save money from online shopping. It allows for price comparisons on the Internet, and that's where the savings are,” says Goldstuck.