The majority of South African online shoppers are satisfied with their overall online shopping experience and 51% who have access to the internet are shopping online, with 75% of those having done so in the past three months, the latest MasterCard Worldwide survey on online shopping habits revealed on Tuesday, 25 January 2011.
Access up, purchases down
While the number of South Africans accessing the internet to shop online was up 9% from the previous survey, the number of those who made purchases in the past three months decreased by a marginal 2% from 77% a year ago, the survey said.
In early 2010, South African research company World Wide Worx reported that the number of South Africans with access to the internet grew by 15% between 2009 and the beginning of 2010, from 4.6 million users to 5.3 million users, with similar growth predicted for the remainder of 2010.
According to the survey, 73% of active online shoppers intend to make an online purchase in the next six months.
Speed and convenience
“South Africans who shop online also feel that making purchases on the internet is more convenient, user-friendly and easier than walking into a store or ordering from a catalogue or via a call centre,” it said.
Interestingly, more people were making use of broadband access technologies, with ADSL usage increasing from 55% to 60%, while 3G/HSDPA usage increased from 49% to 63%.
Conversely, the number of users who said that they utilised dial-up dropped substantially from 16% in 2009 to just 6% in 2010.
Respondents who said they use their mobile phones to access the internet showed significant growth, climbing from 13% in 2009 to 39% in 2010, but the survey found that just 11% of online shoppers actually made purchases using their mobile phones and only 13% intend doing so in the next six months.
When asked what purposes respondents accessed the internet for, sending or receiving email, at 95%, topped the list, followed by browsing for materials for study purposes, at 74%, checking their bank balance, at 73%, browsing for leisure, at 73%, and reading the news, at 70%. Online shopping was cited by 51% of users.
The study also showed that South African online shoppers preferred to plan and research their online purchases in advance, with fewer people making impulse purchases online – the number of online impulse shoppers dropped substantially from 22% to just 8%.
CDs and DVDs are still what SA’s online shoppers seek out most on the web, with 50% citing so. And when it comes to payment for online purchases, credit cards are the most widely preferred payment method online, with just under half of the respondents at 48% using this payment method.
Encouragingly, fears about online safety and security have decreased substantially, dropping to second position from 63% in 2009 to 51% in 2010.
“Online shopping has come a long way in SA. Access to the internet is becoming easier and more cost-effective, the overall online shopping experience is viewed positively and people are gaining trust in online security,” said Dougie Henderson, vice-president for product delivery for MasterCard Worldwide in the Middle East and Africa.