While South African’s economy has experienced some setbacks recently, retail sales there remain relatively strong, and online sales are expected to grow significantly through 2020. Shopper’s in Africa’s most industrialised country are embracing omnichannel shopping and mobile technology, and prefer retailers that provide convenience both in the store and online, according to iVend Retail’s 2019 Global Shopper Survey.

iVend surveyed more than 2,700 shoppers in 11 countries for this year’s survey, measuring attitudes and behaviours related to retail purchase decisions. Below we’ve summarised the results from South African consumers.

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We asked 2,700 shoppers what’s most important to them.

Winning Repeat Business at the Checkout

Retailers can win or lose customers at the checkout in South Africa. This final step in the purchasing cycle is often the most frustrating for shoppers because of long lines or complicated payment solutions. Customers want a quick and easy experience, and want the option to do it themselves without a cashier.

What is the number-one feature of a shopping experience that South African’s value the most? According to the survey, 79.6% said an easy, quick checkout process was important. Just under half of respondents (45.2%) said that a self-checkout station is a good reason to continue shopping with a retailer, which is in line with global preferences for self-checkout solutions.

Loyalty Programs Increase Value

One of the big trends identified in this year’s survey was the importance of loyalty programs to consumers, and South Africa was no exception. Shoppers are participating in loyalty programs and letting those programs dictate where they decide to shop. It’s important to have an integrated loyalty program so that retailers can remain on consumers’ radar.

According to the survey, 94.8% of customers have shopped with a retailer because of a loyalty program, and 88.8% participate in those programs in order to earn discounts and free items. In addition, 74.4% of respondents cited a loyalty program as the most valuable aspect of a shopping experience.

Online Marketing’s Expanding Influence

South African shoppers are highly responsive to online and social media advertisements. Geo-targeted promotions are effective as well. Retailers can use data from an integrated omnichannel retail system to hyper target audiences for promotions. According to the survey:

  • Social advertising works – 84.4% of shoppers make a purchase because of an online or social media ad

  • Geofencing pays off – 77.6% of respondents say they are likely to make a purchase if they get a coupon while in store or nearby

Omnichannel Shopping – New Pickup Options, Mobile Commerce

Omnichannel shopping requires integration between the online shopping experience and in-store experience, and this is evident worldwide in the embrace of click-and-collect or buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) solutions. There has been a 30% increase in retailer use of this strategy compared to last year, including among retailers in South Africa. The drivers for the influx in S.A. is predominately about saving time.

The survey found that 76% of shoppers in South African use click and collect at least some of the time. The top two reasons they use it:

  • 50.8 % use it to save time by not having to go into the store to shop

  • 4% use it to make sure an item is in stock so they don’t waste a trip to the store, only to find the item not available

Smartphones play a big role in the omnichannel shopping journey. Webrooming and showrooming are becoming the standard process for shopping. This year’s survey found that:

  • 90.8% of South African consumers shop on mobile devices while in a physical store
  • 96% browse online before going into a store
  • 36.8% want to manage loyalty program through an app on their phone

South Africans are most receptive to an efficient shopping experience. They favour strategies and technologies that save them time both online and in the store. At a brick-and-mortar location, they want to get in and out quickly.

Retailers in South Africa need a connected, integrated system to handle these demands for convenience, whether through click and collect or self-checkouts, and keep those customers coming back through a well-managed online marketing and loyalty program.

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