Naspers-owned has announced the addition of seven new product categories that will be offered on the online retailer’s website.

The site’s marketing manager, Liz Hillock, attributed the expansion to more and more South Africans shopping online for a wider range of products.

This announcement flies in the face of recent reports that local online shopping, especially grocery shopping, was slack, compared with the phenomenal growth in internet shopping in developed countries.

According to’s assessment over the decade of its existence, local e-commerce shoppers have migrated from buying books, DVDs and games to higher-value items such as consumer electronics and recently everyday essentials such as homeware and baby supplies.

A study by MasterCard between December and January as part of its Worldwide Online Shopping survey found a significant increase in online shopping among South Africans.

In 2009, 44 percent of survey participants used online shopping. In the most recent study close to 60 percent of respondents were online shoppers.

At Naspers’ annual general meeting last week, Ton Vosloo, the group’s chairman, said Naspers forecast that e-commerce would represent the largest segment of the internet within the next five to 10 years.

These findings dovetail with a report published by MasterCard rival Visa last week. A Visa study, titled Connecting with the Millenials, claims that cash will “soon be ancient history”, citing 68 percent of respondents.

Millenials are people born between 1982 and 1995 and who reportedly constitute 25 percent of the world’s population. The study features interviews with more than 5 500 people aged between 18 and 28.

South Africans who participated in the study preferred swiping their cards to using cash. The top three areas where millenials spend their online cash are groceries, transport and rent.

Perhaps when the government’s goal of rolling out broadband to 100 percent of the population by 2020 is achieved, then South Africa can begin the discussion of moving to a cashless society.

Wine auction

The annual auction of rare wines specially crafted for the occasion by members of the Cape Winemakers Guild is open to the public and usually attracts bidders from overseas, as well as local collectors and dealers. In addition to this, proxy bidders and telephone bids are allowed. This will still be the case this year, but an extra dimension will be added.

For the first time there will be online bidding in real time through UK-based international auctioneer ATG, which normally sells art and antiques throughout Europe. As a result the auction, conducted as usual by Henre Hablutzel of Hofmeyr Mills at the Spier conference centre in the Stellenbosch winelands, is expected to attract many more bidders worldwide who have registered through ATG’s website,, and are watching and listening through the site with live audio and video feeds recreating the auction room atmosphere.

This has been arranged through a partnership between ATG and the guild whose chairman, Louis Strydom, explains that it has been exploring options to open up the bidding platform through the internet for some time now, but technical challenges had hampered it in the past.

Angelika Elsner, ATG’s representative in South Africa, says that live online bidding has revolutionised the auction world in recent years.

Between 2010 and 2011 there was a 40 percent increase in site visits and a 33 percent increase in bidders who watched and listened to auctions over the internet and bought online from established auctioneers around the world.

The guild celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Pre-auction tastings are being held overseas again this year in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hong Kong and New York.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Asha Speckman and Audrey D’Angelo.