CAPE TOWN - South African consumers have turned to online shopping in unprecedented numbers since the start of 2020, according to data released yesterday by Mobicred, the largest digital credit facility in this country.
Even though local shoppers have traditionally been cautious about online shopping, the growth in online shopping was both in terms of adoption rates and product selection, said Mobicred CEI Jason Sive.
He said, however, the trend was not unique, and their statistics showed South African online shopping behaviour was in line with other markets. The trends were extracted across 2 000 online retailers accepting Mobicred customer payments, over the last six months.
Across this customer base some of the key changes between pre- and post-lockdown purchases included an overall increase of 40 percent in monthly online transactions.
Demographically, customers older than 60 years, traditionally hesitant to transact online, grew by over 90 percent in terms of applying for Mobicred credit facilities.
The average purchase size across the entire customer base also increased, showing an up-tick of more than 25 percent, while the frequency of transacting online also grew by more than 30 percent.
The increased appetite of South Africans for online shopping had not gone unnoticed by retailers as they sought to offer customers greater freedom and more options to transact.
Over the same period, Mobicred reported a 50 percent monthly increase in the number of new online retailers signing up with the credit facility.
Having access to an increasing basket of options and benefitting from concerted efforts by retailers
to engage more meaningfully with their customers, the purchasing choices and behaviour of South Africans was producing interesting insights into what we spend our money on.
The Mobicred data showed significant shifts in pre- and post-lockdown purchasing choices.
These shifts largely followed what could be assumed to be the impact of especially lock-down restrictions, limiting movement which, in turn resulted in spending more time at home and therefore a greater focus on purchases relating to households.
The auto industry experienced a sharp decrease in sales, dropping by a substantial 45 percent over the period. Also suffering heavy losses in spending, the tourist industry took an 85 percent hit.
Less affected, but still showing a decline, the health and beauty industry was down by 14 percent.
Showing considerable growth, sales in the fashion industry were up by 22 percent, just a few percent shy of the 26% increase achieved by general retail.
Similarly, the tech industry revealed a strong rise, growing by 27 percent. Profiting most over the period, compared to pre-lockdown figures, the bed industry was up by 95 percent, with home and furniture showing significant growth as it rocketed by 140 percent.
This sharp rise in spending on household items was expected to keep growing as the so-called ‘stay-home economy’ continued to develop.
To capitalise on the shift to the stay-home economy, retailers would need to continue expanding their online offerings and further embrace technology to produce online customer experiences that will keep customers coming back, just as they would in a brick-and-mortar store.