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More shoppers see convenience as catalyst to engage online

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Laurian Venter, director at OneDayOnly.
Laurian Venter, director at OneDayOnly.

With Internet penetration in SA standing at 64% as of January 2021, more South Africans between the ages of 35 to 54 are choosing to shop online.

This is according to the ODOmeter 2.0 e-tailer index, compiled by local online shopping site OneDayOnly.

The second edition of the index is used to gauge emerging online shopping trends in SA and areas of the online consumer journey that e-tailers could address to improve the user experience.

It is based on over 9 000 respondents who participated in an online survey as well as the e-tailor’s own data, and it was varied between active online shoppers, infrequent online shoppers and non-shoppers.

Speaking this morning at the ODOmeter 2.0 virtual event, Laurian Venter, director at OneDayOnly, highlighted that the lockdown and the work-from-home trend led to the 38.19 million digitally active South Africans spending more time on the Internet.

This, coupled with more hours spent at home, counted in favour of SA’s e-commerce industry and created an environment where it is easier for the customer to shop using convenience as the catalyst to engagement, noted Venter.

More than a third of respondents said they spend more than three hours a day on the Internet, while 19% spend two to three hours a day and 21% spend one to two hours a day online.

While the vast majority of online shoppers fall between the ages of 25 and 34, there has been an increase in online shoppers who are aged between 35 and 54 years, she noted.

“The 25- to 34-year-old age bracket is down 4% from the last ODOmeter, while the 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 age brackets are up 2% respectively. Although this may look like the younger age group is shopping less, it is possible that this could be linked to the effects of the long-term lockdown, and an indicator of the 35- to 54-year-old bracket becoming more comfortable with making more frequent purchases online.”

Referencing DataReportal.com, Venter pointed out the number of Internet users in SA increased by 1.7 million (+4.5%) between 2020 and 2021.

There were 38.19 million active South African Internet users as of January 2021, and 90.2% of them searched online for a product or service to buy, added Venter. In addition, 89.3% visited an online retail store or online shopping site and 65.3% used either a shopping app on a mobile phone or a tablet to make a purchase.

When asked how often they shopped online, 33% said they shop once a month, 32% shop once a week and 17% shop two to three times a week, while 11% have shopped only a couple of times before. 1% said they have never shopped online before.

According to Venter, these trends are a reflection of SA’s online shopping patterns and have been identified globally too, with values increasing in the second lockdown compared to the first.

Also speaking at the event, OneDayOnlydigital and performance marketing manager Jessica van der Westhuyzen said product categories that are being shopped for most often are technology products at 41%, fashion at 39% and appliances at 32%, which make up the top three categories.

“What surprised us though was that alcohol only drew a 25% response, whereas we saw a significant spike in online sales both during and after the booze ban. This indicates potential growth opportunity in online alcohol sales,” said Van der Westhuyzen.

Sixty percent of respondents prefer to shop using their mobile phones. This came as a surprise to the research team as, when asked which platform the respondents preferred shopping from, Web sites were favoured over apps and while visits are higher on mobile, transactions are taking place on desktops. This indicates the majority of people prefer mobi sites.

“Desktop preference currently sits at 36%, with only 4% of people stating that shopping off a tablet is their preference.”

Last year, 68% of respondents had shopped online before the onset of the pandemic, with the lockdown leading to the marked rise in online shopping. Now that lockdown levels have lifted, of the 2021 respondents, 33% are still primarily shopping online, while the majority (61%) are splitting their shopping between online and in store, notes the survey.

Only 6% have recommenced shopping predominantly in store. This will be an interesting trend to keep an eye on in the upcoming ODOmeter indices to monitor the shift in future online shopping behaviours, noted Van der Westhuyzen.

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