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A recent visa eCommerce Tracker Survey has revealed that although most South Africans browse for products and services online, the still prefer to make purchases in physical stores.

Despite increasing numbers of South Africans shopping and browsing online, there are three main reasons that still prevent them purchasing more online, according to the global Visa eCommerce Tracker Survey, which gauges attitudes towards online payments.

The survey also showed that the top five most browsed categories in the past 12 months by South Africans were physical books, CDs and DVDs (37%), holidays/travel (36%), bill payment (35%), PCs/laptops/tablets and household electronics (34%), and event/ concert tickets (32%).

The survey tracked 8,000 Internet users between the ages of 18-55 from eight countries around the world including South Africa, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Russia and the Philippines.

Dougie Henderson, Head of Emerging Products in Africa for Visa, said the survey showed that despite low levels of Internet penetration, eCommerce is widely used by South Africans.

‚”Internet access via mobile phones is particularly popular. Mobile Internet is accessed by 68% of Internet users and is the preferred device for Internet connectivity.‚”

He added that there has been a gradual expansion of South Africans purchasing online over the past 12 months, with certain lifestyle categories showing more growth than others. These include fashion (78% growth), health & wellness (59%) and automotive and accessories (56%).

Almost all (99%) respondents from South Africa stated that they had browsed online for products and services in the past 12 months.

Henderson noted however, that there are still a number of products and services people purchase offline, despite browsing online.

‚”This includes large ticket items such as PCs/laptops/tablets and household electronics, where 24% browse online before buying offline. When it comes to personal electronics, 23% browse online before buying offline and for financial services products 19% browse online before buying offline,‚” he said.

The top three reasons cited for switching to offline payments after browsing online were concerns about additional shipping or handling fees (41%), that goods wouldn’t arrive on time or at all (40%), and the uncertainty that goods would arrive as per specifications (40%).

The perception of online security however has improved considerably in South Africa, said Henderson.

Sixty-five per cent of respondents agreed they felt more secure making payments or shopping online today compared to two years ago.

‚”The extensive use of mobile phones to access the Internet provides Visa with an opportunity to grow eCommerce in South Africa, especially when shoppers are made aware of key benefits like secure online transaction services such as Verified by Visa,‚” he concluded.

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