Smartphones are the device of choice for ecommerce in South Africa

08 April 2019 2 min. read
More news on

As the online retail market continues to expand in South Africa, customers are reporting that smartphones are their devices of choice when shopping online, more so that PCs and tablets. These numbers are detailed in analysis of the global consumer market conducted by global professional services firm PwC.

South Africa’s consumer retail sector has been among those that have remained the most stable throughout a relatively turbulent period for the country’s economy in recent years. The sector has grown at a steady rate of 5%, driven by growth in the operations of some of its largest retail companies.

Nevertheless, much like the rest of the economy, the retail sector is being heavily affected by the advent of digital tools, leading to a thriving ecommerce segment and significant transformations in the traditional retail segment. The latter includes the ‘digital retail’ experience, which offers customers data-driven insights in real time.

Outside of the retail sector, South Africans appear to have moved on to the digital sphere to conduct a range of other economic activity, including monetary transactions. According to Anton Hugo, who is the Leader of the Retail & Consumer Segment for PwC Africa, South Africans are rapidly becoming tech savvy.Smartphones are the device of choice for ecommerce in South Africa

Hugo describes that the devices used to conduct online transactions have undergone a transformation. Where consumers traditionally used a laptop or a PC for online purchases, 18% of the respondents to PwC’s survey in South Africa use smartphones for online shopping, which only 14% use a PC and 11% use a tablet.

More than 63% of the respondents, meanwhile, revealed that they had used their smartphone to clear bills and invoices over the last year, while 67% had used the devices to transfer money. South African consumers lead the global average in the usage of smartphones for the above functions.

“Not only are consumers the strongest link in the global economic chain, but PwC's Global Consumer Insights Survey shows the technological tools available to them have put them in a position to demand a tailored, seamless and multichannel shopping and social-media-powered experience. Retailers can achieve this by using a blend of both physical and digital approaches. The result for companies will be a greater return on experience with the customer and gaining a competitive advantage,” said Hugo.

Partner at PwC Rashaad Fortune commented on South Africa’s digital maturity, saying “In SA, having access to a computer with Internet access has been a challenge for many people, but with smartphones becoming cheaper and readily available, people have bypassed PCs and gone straight to mobile.”