South African retailers have a wide selection of hardware available, but certain products are only available overseas, and others may be cheaper to import than to buy locally.
The rand has lost value against the US dollar since the beginning of 2020, which is not great news for tech enthusiasts as many of our imported products are priced in dollars.
From 1 January to 15 January 2020, the rand went from R14.01 to R14.74 to the US dollar – a drop many attributed to the return of load-shedding and its potential effect on South Africa’s economy.
While a further loss in rand value might trickle down to the prices of local hardware retailers, importers could also face increases, as both product and shipping prices cited by US retailers could increase after being converted to rand.
We compared the prices of tech items on local ecommerce stores against the cost of importing the same items from Amazon in the United States – including shipping costs and import fees.
Tech price comparison
To provide a more accurate comparison, we used the list price from retailers for each product and did not include discounts.
The table below shows the results of the test.
As you can see, a South African purchase is usually a better choice based on the items we compared. The exception to this were the Samsung 860 Evo SSD and the ASUS RT-AX88U router, which were cheaper from Amazon.
|Item||Import, Taxes, Delivery Fees||US Price||Final Price|
|Samsung 860 Evo 1TB SSD – Amazon||$29.67||$199.99||$229.66 / R3,300|
|Samsung 860 Evo 1TB SSD – Local||–||–||R5,299|
|ASUS RT-AX88U Router – Amazon||$78.15||$288.88||$366.63 / R5,268|
|ASUS RT-AX88U Router – Local||–||–||R7,099|
|Samsung U28E590D Monitor – Amazon||$199.72||$369.99||$569.17 / R8,117|
|Samsung U28E590D Monitor – Local||–||–||R5,999|
|Samsung Galaxy S10+ 128GB – Amazon||$232.55||$999.99||$1,232.54 / R17,708|
|Samsung Galaxy S10+ 128GB – Local||–||–||R18,999|
|AMD Ryzen 7 2700X – Amazon||$59.50||$329.00||$388.50 / R5,582|
|AMD Ryzen 7 2700X – Local||–||–||R4,398|
|MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – Amazon||$74.06||$309.99||$384.05 / R5,518|
|MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – Local||–||–||R5,299|
Guarantee on imports
A major caveat with importing tech from the US is that it may have a plug which does not fit local sockets – and it does not come with local support.
When buying a product directly from the US you are essentially buying a grey import. This means no local support or any of the warranties you would receive if you bought your items from a local retailer.
If this is not a concern for you, however, then comparing prices and potentially shipping in an item from the US is useful to consider.
Your items may also have US plugs on them, which means you have to change the plug or buy a US adapter to use the item in your wall sockets.
Tech items made for sale in the US – or other countries besides South Africa – can come with software made for the US. This means potential geo-locked services.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) also requires citizens who bring in more than three import consignments per year to apply for an importer’s code, as they are the “importer of record” when buying from Amazon.