#10things South Africans are doing online – and how it impacts ecommerce

What South Africans are getting up to online and ultimately what it means for businesses which sell, or are thinking of selling their services and products online - from research by theSALT.

The significance of social media for ecommerce in South Africa, or social commerce as it is called, is growing as more South Africans spend more time online than ever before. Influencer-driven advertising and marketing solutions business, theSALT, was inspired to dig deeper to understand what South Africans are actually doing online, with its South African eCommerce Survey.

“We wanted to understand just what South Africans are getting up to online and ultimately what it means for businesses who sell, or are thinking of selling, their services and products online,” explained Pieter Groenewald, CEO of influencer marketing group, Nfinity, which owns theSALT and other channels. This is why it is important for brands:

1. South Africans are spending more time online than ever before. In a recent internet-use survey conducted by Sortlist, South Africa ranked 4thglobally when it came to the amount of time people spend online per day – totalling a whopping 10 hours and adding up to about 154 days a year in total. The figure is impressive given that just 64% of the population have internet access to begin with.

2. South African’s are spending much of their time online, on social media. The Sortlist survey shows that of the collective 154 days online, 54 of these are dedicated exclusively to social media. On this insight, Groenewald says: “The internet is undergoing a global social revolution. Nearly all of the 4.8 billion internet users worldwide are also on social media, totalling some 4.5 billion people. That means 57% of the people in the world are using social media.”

3. Driving the rise of social commerce. But it is not simply a question of being social. Social media channels are increasingly important when it comes to the rise of social commerce, a form of marketing that uses social media as vehicles to promote and sell products and services online.

4. Looking for information on brands. The influence and importance of social media in the path to purchase is undeniable, with 77% of internet users surveyed advising that they use social media when looking for more information on brands. When it came to the percentage of users surveyed who were asked how they typically find out about new brands/products, 64% advised that social media once again stood at the forefront of this process.

5. Scrolling for information and recommendations. The statistics speak to a fundamental shift in the role played by social media. Where once users resorted to Google or online retailers as the starting point for finding out more – now social media and social networks play a significant role through processes that are driven by curiosity and discovery, scrolling (rather than putting in distinct search queries), ease of use via mobile, emotional and impulse decision-making.

6. Making connections to experience brands. Connecting with existing customers (or influencers) in order to direct their experience of a brand and similarly, their decision to purchase.

7. Following brands that connect with them. With such an emphasis on social media, there is a great need for businesses and brands to adapt their messaging to meet their potential customers where they are – online, and more accurately, on social networks.

8. Making ethical purchasing choices. But the truth is, just having a business or brand Facebook or Instagram page isn’t enough. Consumers are increasingly aware of the need to make ethical purchasing choices, driving their desire to buy from businesses that align to their values, which are authentic; and often, local, and sustainably made.

9. Buying into authentic storytelling. It’s therefore important to build trust and customer loyalty. As for the how of actually doing this? Storytelling – both through the content you employ and the influencers with whom you partner.

10. Driving growth in SA’s ecommerce market. theSALT estimates that by 2025, South Africa’s eCommerce market will reach more than R400 billion on the back of 1 billion transactions per annum, making a strong argument that an eCommerce sales presence is fast becoming (if not already), a must for businesses and brands which want to remain relevant.



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