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SA Internet users embrace online shopping

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South African Internet users have a growing interest in shopping online. A study by Ipsos, on behalf of PayPal and FNB, shows that 22% of South Africa’s Internet users have made purchases online and 48% expect to do so in the future.

The online shopping trend is not limited only to local purchases. According to the research results, up to 46% of South African online shoppers have actually said that they already shop outside the country. And, with 33% of online shoppers saying they haven’t yet but are looking to shop across international lines in the future, as many as 79% of online shoppers in South Africa could be cross-border shoppers in the coming years.

“Advancement of technology is helping to open up commerce opportunities for everyone – across borders, anywhere, anytime and via any device” says Efi Dahan, regional director for Africa and Israel at PayPal. “Our aim is to make it easier, more secure and more affordable for people to sop online than ever before.”

Europe and North America are the most popular regions for cross-border purchases, with the US being the most popular individual country from which to buy goods. The survey shows that 51% of South African cross border shoppers have purchased goods from North America, followed by 39% having purchased goods from Europe (mainly the UK, Germany, Italy and Austria) and 24% from Asia – 18% of which is from China alone.

These findings on South Africa’s international purchasing patterns are comparable to the global trend. In a similar study conducted by Ipsos across 22 countries globally, the US was also the most popular destination for cross border online purchases with 26% of online shoppers purchasing from the US. The US was followed by China, the UK and Germany with 18%, 17% and 16% respectively.

Looking ahead, the study shows South Africa’s expected online cross-border spend in 2015 shows a net increase, with 22% of cross border shoppers expecting to spend more, 65% expecting to spend the same and only 14% of buyers expecting to spend less.

As with local online purchases, when asked what the main barriers to cross-border purchasing were, many respondents expressed concern about the security of their online payments. 75% of online shoppers who currently do not shop cross border mentioned concern about security of payments as a key barrier to cross border shopping. However, this concern did come second to the fear that delivered goods would not come as described when ordered, an area where 81% of non-cross border online shoppers expressed worry.

The research’s findings in South Africa depict what could be a regional trend. According to the same study conducted in Nigeria, South Africa’s potential for online cross-border purchases is quite similar to Nigeria’s. The study found that in Nigeria, 47% of online shoppers already shop cross border, and 37% have expressed the desire to do so in the future, which is similar to the South African results.

Interestingly, South African e-commerce sites have proven to be popular international destinations for shoppers from Nigeria. The research shows that 30% of Nigerian cross-border shoppers have purchased goods from South Africa, the third largest market behind North America (38% of shoppers) and Europe (mainly UK and Italy) at 41% of shoppers.