Durban – As the holiday shopping frenzy gets under way, many tech-savvy consumers have opted to go online, giving long queues, Christmas jingles and crowded shopping malls a miss.
Technical expert and managing director of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, said it was expected that online retail would yield R20 billion turnover this year – and 20 percent of this was generated during the festive season alone.
Goldstuck said there had been a steady increase in the number of South Africans buying online while cellphone transactions were also taking off. “Consumers are expected to spend about R9 billion this festive period alone – between mid-November and the end of December,” he said.
Online purchases were being made across various product categories but consumers tended to go for “hot products” which included electronics and toys, Goldstuck said.
Gary Hadfield, chief executive for one of the most popular online retailers, Loot.co.za, said it had experienced a significant increase in sales since the bargain hunting on Black Friday.
“We sourced a significant number of hot deals for Black Friday and this delivered close to triple the revenues versus last year,” Hadfield said.
Last month the online store saw a 90 percent year-on-year increase in cellphone traffic and a commensurate increase in revenues of more than 136 percent for customers buying on mobile phone. “Our mobile app has made shopping via mobile a lot easier for our customers,” Hadfield added.
Loot.co.za has clinched a spot in the top three most-trafficked online e-commerce pure play in South Africa.
Another online retailer, Takealot.com, was also upbeat about posting positive sales during this festive season.
A spokeswoman for Takealot.com, Lucie Bartlett, said that this year the online retail store saw an unprecedented demand from customers for Black Friday deals which were extended over four days and demand for goods was continuing over the festive period.
“Shoppers had the opportunity to seal their Christmas deals early and at times we experienced 300 percent of the usual sales we would expect on a Friday during the festive season,” Bartlett said.
The marketing manager for Superbalist, Klyne Maharaj, said the retail store expected an increase in sales.
“What did come as a surprise was the success of Cyber Monday, November 28. We turned almost the same revenue as we did on Black Friday 2015, an encouraging sign of not only Superbalist.com’s growth, but that of e-commerce in South Africa as well.”
Several retailers invested in marketing strategies that were now yielding positive results.
Toys R Us has multiple online shopping platforms and has noted increased consumer traffic on its sites.
“Recognising the growth of online shopping and the demand from tech-savvy consumers, we have diversified our offering to various markets through new services,” said Nicole Annells, marketing manager of Toys R Us South Africa.
Annells said a significant percentage of the company’s revenue over the festive season was generated from online sales.
“The ease of online shopping is driving sales on this platform as consumers find it more convenient to do their shopping online, particularly during the busy festive season,” Annells added.
Other retailers who had diversified into e-commerce, Woolworths and Pick n Pay, were also already benefiting from the shopping period.
Woolworths confirmed they had achieved robust online growth this festive season, with significant improvements made to enhance overall customer user experience.
A spokesman for Pick n Pay, David North, said while online was a small part of the business, customers had shown an appreciation of convenience that online shopping offered and the retailer had recorded pleasing growth of 34 percent in the first half of the year.Independent on Saturday