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SA’s E-Commerce Surge to Benefit Small, Indie Retailers the Most

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
Journalist. Reach me at

South African consumers are heading online in greater numbers as the e-commerce shopping experience increasingly offers more choice and convenience than can be found at traditional big-brand, brick-and-mortar retailers, says Mike Farquharson, MD of online courier aggregator Rush.

Statista market and consumer data project that 31.6-million South Africans could be converted to online shopping by 2024.

According to FNB, average e-commerce spending already increased by 30% in the first half of 2020 compared to the year prior while Rand Merchant Bank expects the sector’s value to surge by 150%, to R225-billion ($15.2-billion), within the next five years.

“These findings suggest that shifts in shopper behaviour towards online stores are becoming more permanent as consumers elect to spend at smaller, independent retailers for niche products, first-rate service, and quick delivery,” notes Farquharson.

He says that thanks to game-changing technologies which have revolutionised logistics and supply chains the world over, independent retailers can compete with their larger peers in ways that weren’t possible just a few short years ago.

“Along with advances in technology, more informed and sceptical consumers are holding retailers to higher standards. Small, e-commerce sites have a distinct advantage in that they can harness shopper loyalty through total customer-centricity and excellent service levels throughout the customer journey, including the all-important delivery ‘last-mile’.”

That consumers have access to more options and unprecedented amounts of information at their fingertips is well known. Farquharson says this makes getting the basics right very important.

“An e-commerce business’ success depends upon speedy and proper delivery of products. The Rush platform allows online retailers to find a reputable, cost-effective courier partner within seconds. Thanks to monumental changes in the sector, e-commerce deliveries have evolved from taking days or weeks to complete to a day or even less.”

Farquharson adds that as large retailers grapple with how to nurture and retain customers, independent e-commerce players are leading the way with speedy, superior service.

“The numbers prove that shoppers will trust an e-commerce site if they provide proper delivery of quality products,” Farquharson says.

“South Africa’s online retail sector shows real promise for long term growth potential, and the recent boom in online spending and adoption is great news for small South African businesses making a difference to our economy.”

Edited by Luis Monzon
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