South African online stores have seen a significant increase in sales following the relaxation of lockdown regulations to allow the unrestricted operation of ecommerce.
Following the reopening of local ecommerce, many South African online stores said that they had seen an uptick in sales, as well as big spikes in demand for certain products.
These products included winter bedding, cookware, electronics, exercise equipment, webcams, and headsets.
Raru founder Neil Smith previously said that the increase in sales was so large that if it continued, it may have rivalled the retailer’s 2019 Black Friday sales.
Many ecommerce players perceive this period as an opportunity for the industry to grow and to show their value to consumers.
ParcelNinja CEO Justin Drennan stated that the lockdown implemented to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated ecommerce in South Africa by 3-5 years.
This is because more people will become comfortable with using ecommerce platforms, as they are the only way to facilitate the purchase of certain items.
MyBroadband spoke to major local online stores about how they were coping with this increased demand for online shopping, and whether it was comparable to their Black Friday sales period.
Wootware founder Rory Magee told MyBroadband it is important to differentiate between additional sales above what a retailer would expect in a normal month and sales that a retailer would not have otherwise made during the lockdown.
“For our own sales, we have tried to prioritise the availability of stock and also not overwhelming our dispatch and technical staff at any one given time (placing order limits on certain items),” Magee said.
“For us, we haven’t had any specific day that would’ve rivalled Black Friday, because this would’ve either overwhelmed our skeleton staff or resulted in excessive wait-times for customer order shipments.”
“More than anything, we want the customers that do purchase from us to be elated with the service and delivery times, as far as we’re able to control these,” he said.
Magee said their sales remained relatively constant after the regulations were relaxed, as they stayed open during the lockdown.
“We hope and are optimistic for further sales growth,” Magee said.
“We are planning for continued growth and working to expand our supply dramatically, but also are monitoring the market and global conditions/events.”
OneDayOnly told MyBroadband that it has seen an increase in sales due to the relaxed regulations, but nothing comparable to Black Friday.
“By offering both essential and non-essential items, we were able to continue to trade throughout the duration of lockdown (although we deferred delivery for all non-essential items),” the company said.
“So whilst sales have definitely increased since ecommerce regulations have been eased, the spike hasn’t been as sharp as [Black Friday].”
OneDayOnly added that the national lockdown has greatly accelerated the adoption of online shopping, and it said it expects to see continued growth in the near future.
“Lockdown and social distancing have definitely shed a whole new light on ecommerce, especially for those who, pre lockdown, were not yet converted or on the fence,” OneDayOnly said.
“Furthermore, ecommerce has also shifted under lockdown, going from just a shopping option to a platform actively supplying people with things they may not otherwise have access to.”
“There will probably come a time when things start to even out, but for the time being we expect to see continued growth with new shoppers, and those now shopping more regularly,” the company said.
Raru founder Neil Smith told MyBroadband that their sales had seen a significant increase following the reopening of all ecommerce operations.
“Our daily sales averages at present are of a more consistently higher daily average than for any other period during 2020 before the lockdown started in March,” Smith said. “I cannot speak to what other online retailers are experiencing.”
He added that Raru has seen its best sales of 2020 following the reopening of ecommerce.
“Sales for the period from 18 to 24 May were the highest so far for us for 2020 – about a 200% increase.”
He said that this growth should slow slightly as people begin returning to work and to physical stores, however.
“We do expect things to slow down a bit when South Africa moves to the level 3 lockdown stage from 1 June, but time will tell as to how consumers breakdown their shopping spend between online and brick and mortar stores,” Smith said.