Black Friday online sales increased 700% this year

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Despite payment frustrations, local shoppers splurged big online on Black Friday.
Despite payment frustrations, local shoppers splurged big online on Black Friday.

Data from instant EFT payment provider i-Pay reveals that while the total value of transactions online during Black Friday increased 700% this year, the average shopper spent less.

This means there were significantly more people looking to score a deal this year, but the average person did not spend as much as last year.

"At face value, e-tailers experienced the highest volume of sales on record for Black Friday in South Africa. More significantly, the completed transactions on the day increased by close on 700% when compared to last year," says Thomas Pays, CEO of i-Pay.

However, he adds: "Our data shows the average EFT transaction value decreased by 19% from last year."

Pays believes the uncertain economic environment contributed to how much consumers were willing to spend online.

Payment portal glitches also contributed to consumers spending less, says Pays, causing consumers to give up when realising they had lost out on a deal.

Makro Online and Superbalist suffered downtime in the early hours of the morning on Black Friday, and Takealot and Superbalist customers had trouble when they tried to pay using a credit card.

"It highlights the importance of e-tailers being able to process every transaction reliably and securely. Irrespective of the value of the sale, transactions add up and could mean the difference between reporting a profit and having to retrench staff," says Pays.

"Being online is no longer good enough. You must empower merchants and consumers with digital payment solutions that are secure, do not require credit cards or customer registration, and are available no matter the traffic volumes. This year has shown the importance of this and made people aware of the need to use instant EFT systems for their online purchases."

Bringing in the big bucks

Despite South Africans spending less per purchase and payment portals causing frustration, a lot of money was made by local online retailers over the weekend, spilling over into Cyber Monday.

One of SA's largest online fashion retailers, Superbalist (the recently merged Spree and Superbalist), says it generated R40 million in revenue on Black Friday, making the sales day its biggest trading day to date.

Co-CEOs Claude Hanan and Luke Jedeikin say this represents 115% year-on-year growth, while traffic to the site on Black Friday grew by 80% compared to last year, with 35 000 customers buying 180 000 items.

"Since first took part in Black Friday in 2014, sales have more than doubled each year," says Jedeikin.

"This year, Black Friday came just two months after the merge with Spree and so we saw an even bigger increase. We also extended our Black Friday sale to run across five days, making this year bigger than ever."

Part-owner of Superbalist, Takealot (which sells more general and big-ticket items), raked in over R196 million in total transaction value in the first 24 hours of its annual Blue Dot Sale, which commences on Black Friday.

Takealot says it saw 125% year-on-year growth in gross merchandising value (GMV) and 127% increase in orders on Black Friday this year. It made R87 million in GMV last year and R56 million in 2016.

This was despite the company experiencing site difficulties throughout the day on Friday with its credit card payments portal.

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