The rise in popularity of e-commerce is undeniable, with online shopping gradually becoming a prominent player in the retail market. However, despite the ever-growing trend, a substantial number of people in South Africa remain hesitant to embrace the digital marketplace. In this blog, we’ll dive into the 6 reasons why consumers don’t shop online in South Africa, based on a recent poll we conducted on YourView.

Here is an overview of the results from our market research poll on why consumers don’t shop online:

  1. Security concerns – 44.0%
  2. Shipping costs and time – 19.6%
  3. Physical inspection (wanting to see the quality of clothes/items) – 13.8%
  4. Returns and exchanges – 11.3%
  5. Lack of trust – 7.1%
  6. Technology barrier – 3.8%

Below, we’ll discuss each factor in more detail, explaining what each entails and why consumers don’t shop online because of them.

6 Reasons Why Consumers Don’t Shop Online

1. Security Concerns (44.0%)

A great number of respondents – 44.0% – expressed concerns over the security of their personal and financial information while shopping online.

Topping the chart of reasons why consumers don’t shop online is security concerns. It’s an unfortunate reality that online security threats exist and can lead to devastating losses. A number of South Africans feel safer buying physical stores where they can engage with a real salesperson, instead of risking their financial information being exposed online.

2. Shipping Costs and Time (19.6%)

Another common barrier to online shopping in South Africa is the extra costs and lengthy delivery times that come with with shipping. 19.6% of respondents felt discouraged from purchasing products online due to the additional fees for shipping or the uncertainty of delivery dates. These consumers believe that visiting a physical store and leaving with an item in hand outweighs the convenience of ordering from home and waiting for their purchase to arrive.

3. Returns and Exchanges (11.3%)

With 11.3% of respondents showing apprehension about the difficulty of returning or exchanging items, there is a clear need for e-commerce retailers to simplify their return policies and make the process more transparent and hassle-free. The virtual cart may offer convenience, but when merchandise doesn’t meet expectations, the process of returning or exchanging can become a hassle. The undesirable prospect of dealing with return policies and shipping back unwanted items is another reason why consumers don’t shop online.

4. Technology Barrier (3.8%)

While this percentage might seem small, considering the number of potential buyers it represents, the impact is significant. The intricacies of the online shopping process can be intimidating for those unacquainted with technology. The technology barrier is a considerable factor contributing towards explaining why consumers don’t shop online. Providing user-friendly interfaces and ensuring a smooth online shopping experience can help to bridge this gap and attract new customers who may be wary of technology.

5. Lack of Trust (7.1%)

The lack of trust in online retailers is another prominent factor in why consumers don’t shop online in South Africa. 7.1% of respondents cited concerns with unfamiliar e-commerce sites and retailers as the basis for their lack of trust.

To improve trust in online shopping, retailers need to establish a strong track record of customer satisfaction, offer prompt and efficient customer service, and provide transparent information about their products and services.

6. Physical Inspection (13.8%)

Lastly, many South Africans (13.8% of respondents) still value the experience of touching or trying on items, particularly in the case of clothing, before making a purchase. Online shopping does not provide the sensory experiences associated with physically inspecting products, which is a significant disadvantage for some consumers. As such, the inability to evaluate an item in person is a key reason why consumers don’t shop online.

The fear of being a victim to scams and phishing attacks is a big reason why consumers don’t shop online as much as they could.

The Future of South African Online Shopping

While there are certain challenges holding some South Africans back from fully embracing online shopping, there are ways to ease customer concerns and build trust in the online marketplace. Here are a few ways e-commerce can overcome these obstacles:

  • Enhance website security: Ensure your customers feel safe making purchases by adding secure payment gateways and top-notch security features. Show off those safety measures with visible security badges to give your shoppers peace of mind.
  • Offer free or discounted shipping: Entice customers to choose online shopping over in-store visits by making shipping more affordable. Free or discounted shipping options can ease the cost concerns for your shoppers.
  • Implement customer-friendly return policies: Build trust with your customers by implementing clear, hassle-free return policies. Keep things fair, transparent, and straightforward, so shoppers feel confident making purchases online.
  • Improve product information and photos: Help shoppers know what they’re buying with high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and genuine customer reviews. Make it easy for customers to get a feel for the products without the need to handle them in person.
  • Enhance customer support: Stand by your customers with responsive, empathetic customer service. Be there to address their concerns, answering questions and resolving issues throughout their online shopping journey, and you’ll earn their trust and loyalty.

In conclusion, addressing these 6 factors and highlighting the benefits of e-commerce will be key in increasing the number of South Africans who choose to shop online. By understanding the reasons why consumers don’t shop online and proactively addressing their concerns, the South African e-commerce landscape will continue to thrive in the years to come.