SA web: 80% shop online

2009-06-03 11:17

Johannesburg - Eighty percent of South Africa's internet users shop online with the majority buying items like CDs and DVDs, according to the results of a survey released on Wednesday.

The MasterCard survey found that CDs, DVDs and VCDs were the most sought-after item category, with 58% of online shoppers saying they frequently shopped for these items online.

The South African sample of the survey comprised 500 people, between the ages of 18 and 64, who had a bank account and accessed the internet at least once a week, MasterCard said.

"Although internet penetration in South Africa remains relatively low, over three-quarters of those who do regularly access the internet have recently made at least one online purchase," said Anthony West, general manager, MasterCard Africa.

"In fact, exactly 50% of those surveyed indicated that online shopping was one of the main reasons that they used the internet."

According to a recent report by South African research company World Wide Worx - entitled Internet Access in SA - South Africa's internet population grew to more than 4.6 million last year.

This figure was set to expand as much in the next five years as it did in the past 15, MasterCard said.

The survey found the majority of online purchases were premeditated, with 88% of South Africa's online shoppers admitting that they planned their shopping in advance and conducted research on their potential purchases.

Few impulse purchases

This was supported by the low occurrence of impulse purchases, MasterCard said.

When asked how often they "had experienced making a purchase impulsively", 65% of the country's online shoppers said "hardly ever" or "never".

The survey also illustrated that South Africans found security and reputation to be as important, if not more important, as value for money when deciding whether or not to make an online purchase.

Some 85% said it was "extremely important" that a website offered secure payment facilities, and 61% said a website's reputation was "extremely important".

MasterCard added that 62% of online shoppers indicated that value for money was an "extremely important" factor in deciding to make an online purchase.

Another interesting aspect that the survey highlighted was the level of spending online.

The highest number - 41% - said they spent between $100 (R806) and $499 (R4 023).

Some 13% spent $1 000 (R8 063) or more.

The research contained, however, one piece of information that would come as a relief to the traditional South African "bricks and mortar" retailers, MasterCard said.

This was the fact that even the "hip and trendy" online shoppers admitted that they still did 76% of their shopping the old-fashioned way - "by actually going to the shops and walking around".