The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has prompted a surge in e-commerce transactions, with increasing numbers of consumers choosing to shop online Picture: Philippe Wojazer/REUTERS
The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has prompted a surge in e-commerce transactions, with increasing numbers of consumers choosing to shop online Picture: Philippe Wojazer/REUTERS

SA sees surge in online shopping during Covid-19 lockdown

By Mwangi Githahu and Marvin Charles Time of article published Apr 30, 2020

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Cape Town - The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has prompted a surge in e-commerce transactions, with increasing numbers of consumers choosing to shop online instead of physically visiting shops.

According to a recent Nielsen syndicated study on the impact of the lockdown on consumer behaviour in South Africa, there has been a sharp uptick of South Africans shopping online, with 37% of the respondents saying they are shopping more online.

Nielsen South Africa Retailer lead Gareth Paterson said: “South Africa’s online grocery-shopping penetration and usage has also been quite niche and of the 58% of South Africans with internet access, only 1-2% had regularly purchased food and groceries online, and only 8 -10% have purchased in the past year.

“However, one-third of consumers had expressed a willingness to shop online. This, coupled with the current lockdown scenario, means there is likely to be prolonged behavioural changes in in-store and online shopping, with services like click and collect, automated online subscriptions, and personal shopping all having the potential for growth.

“Available online shopping platforms, especially for groceries, medicines, and other necessary items, have seen a surge in usage over the last few weeks as consumers prefer not to venture into stores and have increasingly opted for these reduced touch-point alternatives.

“We can therefore expect a permanent uplift in online shopping numbers - albeit off a small base in South Africa - even after the pandemic has ended, since many behaviours adopted during the Covid-19 period are likely to translate into more permanent long term habits.”

Fashion blogger and web influencer Andrew Murphy said: “For me, online shopping now compared with before is almost like buying something you’re not sure about.

“Obviously we know that we’re jumping between lockdown levels, so my concern is that it won’t be delivered after the lockdown lifts.

“We also know that deliveries are being allowed from May 1 but online retailers have accepted orders plus payments, so I can’t even imagine what the backlog of deliveries will look like. I personally have added something to my shopping at least three times a week, so I ended up purchasing it

“I would have spent so much money and I believe so many more people have done this.

“I’ve noticed that the online retailers also update their websites like they usually would so new items are constantly being added, and this makes it so much harder not to shop.

“For now I’m just adding items to my cart, so when we go back to somewhat of a normal functioning society I can purchase and expect delivery.”

Fashion blogger and web influencer Andrew Murphy says for him online shopping now compared with before is almost like buying something you are not sure about.

Spokesperson for e-tailer, OneDayOnly.co.za, Matthew Leighton, said: “Cyber safety is a big part of shopping online - there are a few do’s and don’ts.

“If something looks too good to be true, and you haven’t heard of the site before, do some research. If Googling the site name doesn’t yield any results, you’d do well to proceed with caution.”

Meanwhile, senior vice-president and group country manager for Visa Sub-Saharan Africa, Aida Diarra, said: “A common mistake among new online merchants, for example, is to overcompensate for their fear of fraud by implementing security solutions that are so rigid that they prevent legitimate consumers from shopping and checking out with ease.

“Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point where there no longer has to be a trade-off between strong online security and a great customer experience.

“Visa Secure, our new programme governing online transactions delivers greater fraud prevention by sharing up to 10 times more data with issuers for better risk analysis and advanced decision-making.”

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