E-shopping or online shopping may be taking the world by storm, but many Mzansi people remain wary of it.

With only three million people making regular use of an electronic shopping trolly to meet their daily requirements, more still needs to be done to get people online.

But with online purchases expected to near R10 billion in 2016, indications are that changing socio-economic factors will increase the use of digital shopping as technology becomes more accessible.

Vuyo Mpako, head of digital channels and eCommerce at Standard Bank, said two of the major problems facing Mzansi were limited access to the internet and the cost of broadband.

“Although uncapped access to fibre networks is increasing in homes across the country, the cost – usually more than R600 a month – restricts access to those in higher-income brackets.

“As making homeowners’ access to fibre a viable economic proposition relies on high consumer take-up numbers, suppliers naturally target major urban areas,” he said.

Then only cities and higher-income areas get services. “For e-commerce to become popular beyond city limits, the traditional barriers of large distances and poor infrastructure have to be overcome,” he said.

But why do many still doubt e-shopping?

- A lack of trust exists in making online transactions.
- The belief that internet purchases can only be made if the shopper has a credit card.
- The internet may not be cheaper than local retail outlets.
 Local buyers tending to buy non-food items only, such as music, videos, gifts, clothing and software online.
“The true potential of e-commerce in South Africa can be seen from the fact that, although there are only about 3 million people using facilities regularly, the value of purchases made annually is increasing steadily,” said Mpako.

World Wide Worx indicates that a milestone of 1,03% of total retail sales of nearly R10 billion is expected to be made online in 2016.
“Increasing use of e-shopping will be made by young South Africans who have high levels of computer literacy and are comfortable with using applications, or apps, that make access to services easier.

“Presently this sector comprising people between the ages of 25 and 35 makes up the bulk of e-commerce users,” he said.
Not surprisingly, young Mzansi people between the ages of 25 and 34 make up the bulk of e-shoppers, followed by those between 35 and 44 – about 16% of the total.
As predicted by experts, Mpako said the increasing market penetration of smartphones is set to add further impetus to the use of e-shopping channels.
“While South Africa’s internet penetration lies at 34%, mobile phone penetration lies at 86%, according to World Wide Worx numbers, and probably more than 50% of the adult population. As these mobile devices become more sophisticated, they bring easier access to streams of information and opportunities,” he said.
“Every facet of life is impacted by smart technology. Phones are used for everything from banking transactions to monitoring fitness levels and ordering groceries.”