Natasha Courtney, social media manager at Reprise South Africa, says, "Currently only a quarter of South African retailers are spending through digital channels, but with more of the population shifting their behaviour and budgets to online shopping, more retailers are making their products and services available online all the time."

According to Reprise, women especially prefer interactive and easy-to-use options that allow them to share their shopping experiences with other users, and to get feedback and user ratings about the products or services that they're interested in purchasing.

"Out of the 39% of women who are actively shopping online in South Africa, there was one predominant reason they enjoyed shopping this way — convenience," says Courtney.

Digital shopping platform ThinkOver says that 89% of women will wait for an item to go on sale before purchasing. More than half of respondents (55%) reported that they continuously check a retailer's website for sales, while 58% monitor their inboxes for sale alerts. Additionally, 75% of women said that they get upset when an item they wanted to buy went on sale and they weren't aware of it.

According to Reprise, when it comes to preferred payment terms, 54% of South African shoppers like to pay cash on delivery. When asked about debit card payments, 52% of consumers preferred this method — quite an even split.

"Loyalty programmes are a big part of a woman's shopping experience with the study finding that 80% percent of women belong to store loyalty programmes," Courtney says. "And we're spending a lot of time online — the majority of female shoppers spend an average of an hour a day looking for great deals before we buy." 

Reprise says that for South African female consumers, the four most popular categories of online purchases are clothing, entertainment, education and tickets for events. Over 75% of women stated that they go online and choose what they want to purchase before they go out, suggesting that most purchases are pre-meditated and not a spur of the moment decision.

"Pick n Pay's integrated annual report for 2018 showed a 70% increase in its customers visiting their website from a mobile device since they launched their online grocery shop," says Courtney.

"But there are some downsides too. When purchasing clothing online, some women say that the clothing sizes are incorrect on delivery and the return policies and overall service turnaround times are the areas that need attention from retailers," she adds.

Reprise reports that poor user experience on websites is another deterrent to online shopping. "Mobile technology is transforming e-commerce in Africa, and consumers are actually more likely to have a mobile device than a bank account,” says Courtney. 

"South Africans are also becoming more comfortable with mobile shopping due to, for example, easy-to-use apps for ordering car rides or food becoming more commonplace," she adds.

The research shows that the online shopping industry is growing and is set to grow even more in the coming years. It is also clear, according to Reprise, that consumers will choose online payment partners they can trust and that provide peace of mind that the security of their financial information will be a priority.

"For now, traditional shopping habits still dominate in South Africa. But with almost half the population set to make an online purchase in the next year, it is clear that the e-commerce market has huge potential and will continue to grow year on year. It's hugely exciting for retailers and consumers alike," concludes Courtney.

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