There is no denying South Africa is a bit behind the curve when it comes to online shopping trends. But, if the experts are to be believed, we are catching up fast.
According to a MasterCard Worldwide Online Shopping Survey, in 2012 the proportion of South African internet users that shop online was 58%.
This does not sound like a lot compared to US where 62% of all consumers shop online. But, considering that in 2009 that South African proportion stood at 44% the trend is apparent.
For those who are considering dipping their toes into the ocean of online shopping there are a few specific entry points to help you along your way.
As technology has changed the way we live, some commodities really are not only more convenient, but also cheaper when bought online.
Tickets – especially airline tickets
If you are still buying your airline tickets from a travel agent you are most likely paying more than you need to.
Travel agents may have the time and the contacts to search for cheapest available flights, but they are still putting a commission fee on top of that to stay afloat.
There are great websites available that do the job of comparing flights for you and they take no more than a few seconds to do so. Travelstart.co.za is a great site locally.
As for other tickets, like concert, festival or theatre tickets, they may not necessarily be cheaper online. But when you factor in queues, driving around to the ticket selling outlets, cost of petrol and parking, it’s definitely worth your while to buy online.
Books, music and movies
These are best bought online primarily because their format has changed so dramatically in the last few years. You can buy an e-book on Amazon to read on your Kindle, iPad or smartphone for less than R50 a pop.
You are lucky to find even a second hand book so cheaply if you are still looking for the old paper and ink form.
As for music and movies, a quick download from iTunes or another (legal) source will also cost you substantially less than traipsing off to Musica or Look & Listen to buy the DVD or CD. Even more, the book, CD and DVD all have a shelf life, the digital version lasts forever.
You may well have been thinking that in order to buy the eBook or music and movie online you need the appropriate tech.
In the US, consumer electronics top the charts as most popular products bought online. This could be in part because the kind of people who prefer to shop online are also the kind of people who buy a lot of tech products, but it’s more likely because it’s easier to shop around for the best price online.
Instead of trudging from store to store looking for a deal – you can check out a few reliable online sites, like Kalahari.com, and compare prices, look for sales and choose the best deal.[tip title=”moneysmart tip”]When you are shopping for a tangible product that needs to be delivered, be sure to factor the delivery costs into the total cost – or better yet, find a site that offers free delivery.[/tip]
It may well seem like a leap of faith to share your credit card details online, and trust what you have ordered will arrive at your door, in the condition in which it was promised.
But this is undoubtedly the way the world is moving and its recognised now that even well established retail stores need an online shopping section to keep competitive.
While it’s always wise to buy from a reputable site, online shopping is not as frightening as you may think. In fact – it could save you a lot of time, hassle and money.