South Africans turn to online grocery shopping with onset of COVID-19

SOUTH AFRICA – The Covid-19 pandemic and its related restrictions have prompted a surge in e-commerce transactions, with increasing numbers of consumers choosing to shop online instead of physically visiting shops.

According to a recent Mastercard study on consumer spending, 68% of South Africans are shopping more online since the onset of the pandemic.

With the uptick of online shopping in the country, the study has indicated that 54% of the online shoppers bought groceries since the pandemic started.

This was triggered by the use of social media which has emerged as the main platform for finding the most attractive products and offers. 64% and 41% of respondents indicated they had discovered new sellers through Facebook and Instagram respectively.

Most business have adopted the use of social media as marketing tools and platforms for availing their products, targeting the over 22 million active social media users in South Africa, according to Statista.

The large population of tech savvies are millennials and urbanites with the highest spending power and are on the lookout for convenient, personalized, time-saving, cost-efficient ways to consume, and consume more.

54% of online shoppers bought groceries since the pandemic started.

According to the research, the pandemic also made consumers more generous with nearly a quarter (23%) saying they have donated more to charity than pre-lockdown.

Consumers are also supporting their favourite local small businesses, with 63% of respondents saying that they are making a conscious effort to shop online at these stores.

Even with the rapid rise in popularity of online shopping, customers have indicated that price is a key determinant factor, with 78% saying this is the most important consideration that guides their online purchasing decision.

In fact, 75% of typical in-store bargain hunters spend hours searching different sites to find the best deals and nearly half (49%) of self-confessed window shoppers say they regularly create wish lists but don’t always buy.

Consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of the associated risks of shopping online.

Sixty four percent of respondents said that a secure checkout experience is integral to a good shopping experience, as are easy return policies (65%), and promotions and loyalty programmes (62%).

“Now more than ever people need access to the digital economy and all of us at Mastercard are constantly working to make the online shopping experience more inclusive, simple, seamless and secure for everyone, whether you’re shopping for essentials or experiences,” said Suzanne Morel, Country Manager at Mastercard, South Africa.

Other than undertaking online shopping of essential products, South Africans have also turned to the internet to acquire new skills with 55% of the respondents of the Mastercard survey highlighting they have learnt how to cook through online tutorials, alongside doing other activities.

The trend of online shopping appears that it will be here to stay as 71% of respondents said they will continue to shop online post-pandemic.

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