January 8, 2018
You would like to buy food online from a South African shop, and you discover that there are actually very few of them. You also find that many deliveries are not free like they are in the US, but then, you don’t have to get in your car, spend some petrol, and stand in a queue to get your food item.
Let’s have a peep at the online food shopping scene in South Africa.
You can shop from your laptop at home or at the office, you can even shop in areas that are not necessarily in your neighbourhood. However, when buying food online, the Internet offers a special way to achieve this.
Two typical types of grocery delivery services are available on the Internet for those in the US. The one service is the in-store where the individual already shops on a regular basis, and who delivers the groceries to his or her home. The other service is a shipping website, where items come together from several sources at one particular place, and are then shipped by a particular service to the front door.
When shopping in a traditional in-store shop, the shopper will no doubt have to go up and down the isles before finding the required item. With online shopping, it becomes easier, but nonetheless, research is still required on the website to see what is on offer, and what sizes of goods are suitable for the shopper.
A 2015 article by Business Tech says that if you are prepared to pay for expensive shipping or delivery, and possibly forego some of the in-store specials, then online shopping for groceries will work for South Africans. The two main online South African stores that offer the purchase of foodstuffs online with shipping included are Pick n Pay and Woolworths. However, by 2015, only 1% of their total sales came from online grocery shopping.
What was noticeable, is that there appears to be no free shipping offered by the main South African online shops, thus making the foodstuffs bought online somewhat more expensive. This is of course the price one pays for not having to drive to the store and stand in a queue. The online prices of Pick n Pay are similar to those found in their in-store, but the online system does not pick up any specials that are occurring in their in-store at the time. Less frequently, the online foodstuff prices are less than the prices of the equivalent goods in-store.
Shipping charges within major South African cities vary from R50 to R90. When R50 is charged for delivery, it means that a food basket will end up 25% more expensive. If delivery was free, then the online goods are marginally more expensive at 1.4% than their in-store goods. This translates to an extra R14 for every R1000 online purchase. If your monthly grocery bill is R10 000 per month, then it will cost an extra R140 per month for the deliveries.
That is actually not too bad when you consider the price of fuel and wear and tear on your car every time you go to the shops. Also, what about time spent shopping? If you are charging R500/hr as a consultant working from home, you will have lost R1000 if you shop for two hours.
Sometime even if a shop were to provide free delivery, their online goods could still be 5.4% more expensive than the identical items in the in-store. In 2007, non-free delivery was considered another obstacle to the growth of South African online shopping. In addition, an unreliable courier service making deliveries is considered to be another obstacle. Shortages of stock at times would mean long delivery times, which is again something that would put off online shoppers.
Possibly, the delivery costs for online goods should be looked at again. Perhaps the implementation of a free delivery service could greatly stimulate online shopping, and may open up a largely untapped online market, especially for those who don’t have transport, and who are stuck at home for one reason or other.
A 2007 Mail&Guardian article emphasises the fact that at that time, the Internet was not available to many people. Thus, this lack of connectivity was considered at that time to be a serious constraint to the growth of online shopping. However, 10 years later the picture has surely changed somewhat. If you have a smartphone, and free WiFi, you should be able to order goods online. Perhaps, as more and more service providers supply optic fibre networks, the cheaper Internet should become.
In 2007, Pick n Pay was already offering its goods online, it looks like it was a “lone voice in the wilderness.” Ten years later, and only a handful of other stores can be added to this list.
A Sunday World article of May, 2017 mentions a global survey that was conducted in 63 countries including South Africa. The survey indicated that there were not many online shoppers in South Africa, but prospects are improving because Internet connectivity is becoming more and more of a reality to many.
However, only 3% of those surveyed indicated they were regular online shoppers. The most frequently bought goods were travel arrangements, books and fashion, but not food. Online grocery shopping will be expanded further by a category of South African companies. However, online mammoths like Amazon tried but could not manage to make inroads into the huge food industry.
An interesting 40% of South Africans who were surveyed indicated that they have not been buying groceries online, but were thinking about it. Online shopping makes up only 1% of South Africa’s total retail market, whereas this is 13% in the US, and 15% in China.
In South Africa, online shopping using cell phones presents a huge opportunity for growth. This is where online shops need to focus and capture the online market. Woolworths seems to be a forerunner when it comes to online shopping and is experiencing excellent sales in online food sales. This has been supported by a warehouse especially dedicated to online shopping.
So, buying food items online in South Africa is really still in its infancy. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link - online stores may have the greatest display of groceries, but this doesn’t help if there is a general lack of Internet connectivity as well as non-free deliveries. The fantastic advantage of buying car insurance online is that it does not have to be delivered to you like a food item would have to be. It is easy to use PMD’s new online insurance purchase platform.
PMD’s online car insurance purchase platform has been designed to make it really easy for any client to buy car insurance. It doesn’t take at all long for you to purchase your car insurance, and you can specifically make it suit your special needs. Should you get stuck in any way, you can either call someone to help you using the call-back facility, or make use of the audio and visual material available on the website. Now, you can purchase the car insurance you want online from the comfort of your home at any time of the night or day!
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