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By 20 August 2010 | Categories: news

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One-fifth of South African consumers state that they have shopped online in the past six months and the most popular choice for online purchasing are movies and music downloads; cited by 44% of respondents as regularly purchased. This is according to a survey conducted by global research company Synovate.
 
The research was conducted among 500 Internet users in the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria. 
 
Of the fifth that do shop online, the main advantages of doing so were primarily centered around convenience - 43% stating that it was more convenient than offline shopping and 33% stating that they shop online because it is “always open”. Further benefits of online shopping include not having to endure a busy shopping environment or having to deal with sales people (mentioned by 23% and 22% of respondents respectively). Another plus is that one can browse many items at once (18%) and that it’s easy to compare details (16%).
 
“With the advent of cheaper and faster Internet access in South Africa, Synovate investigated attitudes and perceptions around banking and shopping online as these activities have become easier for our consumers,” states Alicia Gaddin, ITT sector head for Synovate. “However, having Internet access does not necessarily mean that customers will shop online. Convenience, variety and saving money are big push factors when it comes to online shopping.”
 
The good news for South Africa is that the majority (68%) of these purchases are made on local sites. World Wide Worx recently released a study revealing that the online shopping amount in rand value in 2010 will come to R2-billion and that there is evidence that consumers are becoming more familiar and comfortable with the process and are therefore spending more online.
 
“This is good news for South African retailers,” states Gaddin “and does not necessarily mean that money is being taken away from the traditional (offline) business. It offers an extra channel for distribution, one which is growing rapidly. The challenge for retailers now is to build upon their offering so as to increase the amount of local spend further.”
 
The overall experience of shopping online was rated as “very good” or “excellent” by 85% of respondents. This was broken down into convenience, security (shopping and goods), the amount and variety of goods online as well as the quality of customer services, and of course the ever-important cost factor. 
 
“Movie and music downloads, as well as mobile content and games are easy to buy online and also provide instant gratification compared to some of the other online purchases,” states Gaddin. “Buying books, CDs and DVDs and even groceries all come with a waiting period while the goods are delivered.”
 
Aside from movie and music downloads, the top online purchases were books, travel, CDs and DVDs and mobile content.

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