The Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown enforced by the government in response have devastated many South African industries and businesses, but the e-commerce sector has seen a boom as more consumers opt to make online purchases from the safety of their homes.
In a statement, the chief executive of online shopping platform bidorbuy, Craig Lubbe, said essential items like cleaning products, stationery, airtime and hygiene products had sold well on the site, as had health-related products including masks and thermometers.
Demand for otherwise quieter categories had also grown, including entertainment items such as gaming wallets and music vouchers, sports equipment like indoor bike trainers and small and large home appliances.
“We’ve seen some big shifts relative to their normal performance,” Lubbe said.
“Home and living, toys and hobbies, and gaming have doubled overnight, and music and instruments, as well as crafts have also shown incredible growth.”
In the same statement, online skincare store SkinMiles said after a 40 percent increase in sales for the year ending February compared to 2019, it was now heading to a 60-100 percent higher turnover.
The initial complete closure of beauty salons during the initial stages of the Covid-19 lockdown had necessitated a total shift to online purchases, SkinMiles director Dr Alek Nikolic said.
Consumers were also spending more time on social media due to travel restrictions still in place, increasing their exposure to advertising.
Nikolic said the changes could be permanent as “new online consumers have learnt how convenient and safe and secure it is”.
Added to that, courier companies had perfected the art of next-day delivery to major centres in South Africa, making it easy to get products to consumers very quickly.
DPO South Africa, the nation’s largest payment service provider, said it had boosted capacity by 700 percent to meet consumer needs, with transactions on May 30 peaking at four times that of its busiest minute during the Black Friday shopping spree last year.
Monthly volumes for the rest of the year were expected to settle at around 40 percent higher than in 2019, the company said.
-ANA, Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa