The countdown to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales has officially begun. With experts predicting shoppers will spend double the amount they did in 2015 – this year’s retail shopping bonanza is expected to be bigger than ever.
SA Online Shopping set to boom in wake of Mall Robberies
With a spate of armed shopping mall robberies taking place around the country over the past six-months - especially in Gauteng and the Western Cape more South Africans are set to explore online shopping options in the run-up to this years festive season.
This is according to Athol Wesselink, Chief Engineer at OpenWeb, a nationwide internet service provider (ISP), who says that although South Africas eCommerce market is still relatively small in comparison to the rest of the developed world, online retail is fast growing locally and is becoming a popular option for many customers. Now with increased factors such as mall security concerns, all indicators are that this trend will be further fuelled this festive season.
Wesselink points to latest 2014 SA E-Commerce Report by Effective Measure (EM), which reveals that 27% of South African internet users currently spend between R201 R500 per month on online shopping platforms; 22% of internet users spend R501 R1 000 per month and 10% spend more than R2 000 per month for online shopping. These figures are likely to increase in the build up towards and during the 2014 festive season as consumers are swept up in the spirit of giving.
He explains that security is not the only factor driving the move towards an online retail experience. Nowadays, South Africans are more time precious than ever, especially during the holiday season when quality family time is a priority.
Shopping online, especially during the festive season, also takes away some of the tension of the traditional shopping process which is often characterised by long queues, popular products being out of stock and fighting for parking space, among other factors.
Another benefit of online shopping, particularly during high foot-traffic periods such as the festive season, is that it presents a more comfortable option for individuals with mobility issues such as the elderly and the disabled, he says.
For those experiencing online shopping for the very first time, Wesselink offers the following tips to make the experience easier this festive season:
1. Use reputable retail sites
Shop using a trusted online retailer, rather that shopping via a search engine as search results can potentially lead you astray from your shopping goal(s). Best practice is to use retailers that you already know (such as a takelot.com or Kalaharic.com). In South Africa, traditional stores such as Mr Price and Makro also now have online shopping services. During this search and selection also be wary of site misspellings, or using different domain addresses (.net, instead of .com for example).
2. Look for the padlock icon
Ensure your transactions occur in a secure environment by always look for the padlock icon at the bottom of your browser window. In addition, it's recommended that, you buy only from online retailers that request a three-digit security code from the back of your credit card this is extra protection as it demonstrates that your card is physically in your possession during the transaction.
3. Know your budget
Having a clear idea of what you want to spend makes it easier to find a gift within your price range especially when shopping online. In addition, it is also easier to compare different product prices as you do not have to rush from shop to shop, as with traditional shopping, but can simply browse multiple retail store websites at the same time to find the best price.
4. Online shopping discounts
Several online shopping platforms offer significant discounts on featured products. Online merchants do not carry the cost of rentals on real estate and there are usually fewer employee salaries to pay, which is why online merchandise is often cheaper.
5. Watch out for delivery costs
Free delivery for products over a certain value is often included when a local website is used, making online shopping not only more convenient, but a far more affordable option too. However, international sites (such as Amazon.com) will never offer free delivery to South Africa, with the delivery cost sometimes exceeding the actual cost of the purchase, which is why it is better to support local e-tailers.
6. Antivirus protection
Ensure that your anti-virus software and spyware is up to date in order to protect your computer and personal details from being hacked while shopping online. It is advisable to avoid clicking on pop-up messages that do not form part of the shopping portals basic function.
7. Check your statements
Go online regularly during the festive season to review your transaction history (dont always wait for your final bill). In the off chance that you pick up something potentially fraudulent, contact your bank and / or online supplier immediately.
OpenWeb is a nationwide internet service provider that provides homes and businesses with fast, reliable and affordable uncapped ADSL. First established in 2004, the OpenWeb team is in full control of the network it provides to its users. The innovative OpenWeb team has developed an intelligent shaping system which does not penalize a user for utilising above average bandwidth. The algorithm keeps the browsing speed steady regardless of the data load to support home and business use. Users simply need a Telkom line to benefit from the advantages of the various OpenWeb packages. OpenWeb offers telephonic and online support. Visit www.openweb.co.za for further information.
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