While many, perhaps even most, businesses in South Africa have found themselves struggling under the national lock-down, (one of the harshest in the world), eCommerce in SA has grown by leaps and bounds. Uptake of eCommerce has traditionally lagged behind here for a large number of reasons, including lack of internet penetration, credit issues, and downright suspicion of the process.

The lock-down however, and its resultant work-from-home and social distancing directives, have seen an unprecedented surge in business for eCommerce sites, particularly since the lifting of the confusing restrictions for online sales.

According to reports, the MD and creator of PayFast (one of the leading SA online payment gateways), the company saw a 98% increase in payment processing between April and May alone, far exceeding previous month-on-month growth rates, even in peak shopping seasons like Black Friday.

Mobile Purchases Grow

Another interesting fact that has emerged has been a huge increase in mobile payments. Again traditionally, mobile has frequently been used more as a research tool, while purchases were often done more on desktops.

This has been changing, with mobile purchase numbers growing faster than desktop ones, but during lock-down, PayFast reported a 42% growth in mobile payments compared to the same period previously.

This has been attributed to people placing online orders in the evening while, for example, consuming entertainment on a different screen. Additional mobile payment options are also being offered by banks and service providers, which may also have had an impact.

Whatever is causing it though, there’s been a quiet revolution for online purchases via mobile happening in the last few months, so remember that your users mobile experience is, perhaps, now even more important than their desktop one.

Unexpected Side Effects

An unexpected side effect of this sudden and rapid increase in online purchases however, has had a knock-on effect on the courier industry, which has struggled to keep up with demand in the face of new requirements for safety etc. As a result, many online retailers are temporarily removing express options, or posting disclaimers that delivery might be delayed due to backlogs.