Presented by CM.com

CM.com publishes research into online habits in South Africa: Poor customer experience may be preventing growth

A new research report from CM.com provides interesting insights into how South Africans are embracing digital channels and online platforms to perform a wide range of activities.

2000 respondents participated in a country-wide research project during the second quarter of 2022. The study shows that life has moved online for people across all income brackets and ages in South Africa in a variety of sectors.

“The rise in activity related to the online banking and shopping sectors has been well documented, but there’s a gap in knowledge when it comes to what’s happening in other industries,” says James Bayhack, CM.com’s Sub-Saharan Africa director.

“Our research covers these areas, and also investigates significant gaps in the local online market that will hopefully help businesses improve customer service, drive growth, and increase reach. Consumers are embracing online for everything, so more industries need to think about how they can meet this demand,” he says.

Online for everybody and everything

Just a few years ago, it would have been inconceivable that so many people would be using online channels for so many services. But as people become more comfortable with digital platforms, and with COVID providing a push, the era of the empowered South African digital consumer is now in full swing.

The report outlines how South Africans are using online channels to purchase tangible and intangible products and services. But it’s about more than eCommerce – online channels are helping businesses streamline operations by allowing customers to do what they used to do in-branch, or via the phone or email.

Consumers have not only come to expect that most goods and services should be available online, they also demand a certain level of service. CM.com’s data reveals that most local businesses selling their products or offering services online are not adequately keeping up with the pace of change in consumer habits and the surge in interest.

Crunching the numbers

The study covers the financial, retail and e-commerce, healthcare, travel and leisure, and e-services sectors, investigating how consumers are responding to businesses’ online efforts. The findings show that some sectors have been enjoying more success than others, and it also outlines key areas where businesses need to improve.

Highlights from the report include:

  • 96% of the study’s sample are going online for a variety of activities, including banking (87%), general shopping (62%), grocery shopping (48%), and booking accommodation (43%).
  • 41% of the respondents indicated that they prefer Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp as shopping channels, with 24% preferring websites.
  • Online channels underdelivering is a barrier to growth – 46% of respondents said that online channels fall short of their service expectations.
  • Customers’ key frustrations are linked to a lack of convenience. 52% of respondents said that their biggest frustration when trying to resolve a problem online was getting a delayed response to a query, with 51% indicating that they have to repeat themselves multiple times when they are passed to different agents.

The study also shows that experiencing frustrations online makes customers more likely to switch to a different business. And businesses that can solve these frustrations better than competitors are likely to come out on top.

To access the report and read more in-depth insights into industry-specific results and what South African consumers are looking for online, click here

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CM.com publishes research into online habits in South Africa: Poor customer experience may be preventing growth