JOHANNESBURG - Smartphones have become the go-to technology for online shopping, with more than 20percent of South African consumers using them weekly over other mobile devices.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey released yesterday found that 63.2percent of consumers used digital channels to pay their bills in the past 12 months, while 67percent transferred money online.

The survey assessed the behaviour, habits and expectations of more than 21000 online consumers in 27 territories.

It said globally 24percent of consumers used smartphones to shop online, with 23.1percent in South Africa using them weekly.

Anton Hugo, Retail and Consumer Leader for PwC Africa said it was time to introduce a metric that focused on customer experience in addition to the traditional return on investment one used to determine a company’s success.

“Because consumers today are so discerning and powerful, it’s our perspective that most organisations need to invest far more in customer experience.

"Measuring ‘return on experience’, will help you understand your earnings on investments in the parts of your company directly related to how people interact with your brand,” said Hugo.

The survey also revealed that cord-cutting was increasingly popular in South Africa, with 22.9percent of consumers streaming movies and 23.9percent music on a daily basis.

Cord-cutting refers to the pattern of viewers, referred to as cord-cutters, cancelling their subscriptions to multichannel subscription television services available over pay TV.

While cord-cutting was more popular in the US and UK, it had not reached the same levels in South Africa according to reports.

MultiChoice reportedly said subscribers were moving to cheaper packages.

Meanwhile there is a growing interest in streaming video services such as Netflix and ShowMax.

Hugo said in order for retailers to have greater return on experience with customers to gain a competitive advantage, they could blend physical and digital shopping fundamentals.

“Not only are consumers the strongest link in the global economic chain, but PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey shows that the technological tools available to them have put them in a position to demand a tailored, seamless and multichannel shopping and social-media-powered experience,” he said.

Hugo also said that the study found that consumers were bombarded with a multitude of choices and were constantly seeking tools to help simplify their purchasing decisions.

“Our survey findings show that shoppers who are willing to pay premium prices want better services, such as a personal stylist, and added conveniences, such as mobile payments and cutting-edge technology,” he said.

Other highlights in the report are that 33percent of South African consumers, compared to 25percent of consumers globally, visited social media first to hear about current events while 46.5percent said that they had been influenced to buy a product following positive reviews on social media and 57.7percent of local consumers owned health-related apps, with exercise being the most popular.

BUSINESS REPORT