With the increased availability of broadband access, more affordable data costs offered by mobile operators and the consistent development of mobile devices, online shopping is gaining great traction in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Fatima Sullivan, Head of Retail at DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa says that with the upcoming festive season fast approaching, consumers are increasingly choosing to purchase gifts online from both local and foreign retailers due to the ability to select from a wide range of products at competitive prices, without being limited by geographical locations, at any time that is convenient to them.
“With improved infrastructure, in terms of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and online safety and security, more people are choosing to make use of online shopping over traditional brick and mortar outlets due to the variety of products available to them at just a click of a button,” says Sullivan.
She points to the amazing successes of local ecommerce start-ups like Zando in South Africa and JUMIA in Nigeria; both part of the Africa Internet Holding, who are gearing up for the festive season. JUMIA, which only launched in 2012, has already expanded into six markets, to take advantage of this growth, with Zando planning expansion plans in the near future.
Jeremy Hodara, Co-CEO of the Africa Internet Holding and Sascha Breuss, MD of Zando agree, that “it is very expensive to buy abroad.” They also emphasize on the importance of a strong logistics partner to gain the customers trust. “This is the biggest test, since there are many fears of frauds and we have to educate consumers about shopping online securely. For example, we have to be transparent on prices, taxes, or shipment costs. That’s why JUMIA and ZANDO accept payments on delivery and offer free returns to deliver a safe, stress-free and convenient shopping experience.”
Fatima Sullivan, says that while online shopping has many benefits, not many South African consumers are aware of the regulations involved with importing products purchased online from international retailers, which could lead to consumers incurring additional expenses, thereby making the product less of an attractive buy.
“As an example, all shipments transported across international borders must be cleared through Customs, where, depending on the type of goods being shipped, they may also be subject to certain other restrictions and regulations. There are goods such as clothing that attract high rates of duty and are subject to interventions by Customs where the price, contents and country of manufacture are often interrogated to mitigate a wide range of risks.”
She adds that confirming any possible restrictions attached to particular goods is vital and should be the first action taken by consumers before making a purchase online in order to avoid suffering any financial losses in the event that goods are detained by Customs.
Source: DHL Africa