Six things you should know about South African e-shoppers


The e-commerce sector in South Africa is expanding rapidly, with local revenue predicted to reach the $7.9 billion mark by 2027. In such a fast-paced world of business, it is essential for companies to build a strong digital presence and tap into the growing online marketplace. To thrive in the evolving South African consumer landscape, businesses need to understand evolving consumer behaviours.

Here are six key insights to help businesses leverage the expanding online marketplace in South Africa:

1. Seamless delivery experiences are a must

Consumers are demanding a seamless shopping experience by expecting faster and more convenient deliveries. Online businesses and logistics companies must optimize their operations for enhanced efficiency, ensuring swift, reliable, and hassle-free deliveries.

2. Mobile-friendly access is key

Mobile e-commerce is expected to drive the growth of online shopping in South Africa, with 47% of offline shoppers predicted to switch to online within the next year. And it’s not difficult to understand why. South Africans love the convenience of being able to shop from anywhere, any time. Thus, local businesses should consider investing in user-friendly apps or mobile friendly interface for their mobile-savvy consumers.

3. Supporting local is lekker

South Africans often prefer locally relevant goods. In fact, a recent NielsenIQ study revealed, “55% of South African consumers prefer to buy locally made products, while 62% try to support small brands where possible”. Businesses can take advantage of this by investing in products, services and marketing efforts that are strategically tailored to their local audience.

4. Innovative digital payment methods are on the rise

In addition to traditional payment methods such as cash, credit and debit cards, mobile wallets and online payment options are growing in popularity among South African consumers. This shift underscores the importance of businesses to adapt to localized payment options like cashless networks likeMpesa and similar mobile money services that have already earned the trust of customers through their ease and efficiency.  The rise of social commerce through platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok presents opportunities for localized e-commerce strategies that align with emerging content creation trends. Platforms with in-feed shopping functionality such as Instagram Shopping offer practical, effective ways to find a willing and engaged audience within the social media environment. Businesses should consider ways to incorporate newer, more innovative forms of payment to cater to their consumers’ preferences.

5. Price sensitivity is non-negotiable

South African consumers are often price conscious, and the country is ranked as one of the most price-sensitive nations in the world. Amid the prevailing cost-of-living crisis, online shoppers are seeking value for money. Thus, offering discounts and maintaining competitive pricing can serve as a pivotal factor in attracting and retaining customers.

6. Prioritising societal concerns is crucial

Consumers today are increasingly seeking to buy from businesses that prioritise societal and environmental concerns. With more than 50% of people will pay attention to the environmental impact of their online purchase, there lies an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on this trend. Businesses can prioritise eco-friendly practices that align with their customers’ values, not only to enhance their brand reputation but also being able to reduce their environmental impact.

“We’re proud of our contribution in helping the e-commerce industry grow South Africa,” says Natasha Parmanand, Managing Director of FedEx Express Sub-Saharan Africa Operations. “At FedEx we believe in staying agile and responsive to changing consumer behaviours, empowering local businesses to pivot swiftly and enhance the consumer experience.”