5 Things to look out for when shopping online in South Africa


A lot has been said lately about the pros and cons over shopping online and, if the latest statistics are anything to go by then it would appear that South Africa has indeed switched its mind set and has started shopping online.

You aren’t short on choice – if you know what to look for

Granted that it only accounts for 1% of the total market for consumer goods, Ecommerce as a sector (as mentioned in our previous blogs) is a rapidly growing industry in South Africa. Entrepreneurs and established retail stores alike are making a concerted effort to create, maintain and promote their digital foot print, with the sole intention on driving sales online.

But what does this mean for you as the customer?

You have found a new ecommerce site, you also quite like the look and feel too, but how do you know that they will be able to cater for your needs? Will they be able to deliver your goods to you? Most importantly, what happens if you aren’t satisfied? Do you have any recourse?

These are things that are important to consider before you hit that “Buy Now” button. But are these questions really the things that go through your head when all you see is the product that you have been searching for right in front of you, its sooo close to becoming yours and nothing short of an intervention will stop you from buying it?

No we didn’t think so either, so to help you out before you get to that situation, we have created a short checklist of things to be on the lookout for… Before you make your purchase:

Does the store have a visible contact us page?

  1. Yes. Ok great, that means that if you need to speak to someone, you can.
  2. No. Hmm so if something goes wrong with your order, how are you going to tell anyone?

Does the store ask you to login before placing an order?

  1. Yes. That’s a good sign – it shows that they take your security and the risk of fraud seriously.
  2. No. Well, refer to the opposite scenario from above.

Once you have placed your order, are you able to add any additional notes?

  1. Yes. Fantastic, this way you can inform the store of any special delivery instructions such as a specific time that would be most convenient for you to take possession of your goods. Should you be a business ordering stock, this field could be used for a third party reference number and would assist in accounting purposes.
  2. No. Your order could be delivered and sent back as you weren’t able to give any special instructions. You might not be able to track orders or correlate them with your internal auditing/ accounting systems.

Are there Terms and Conditions, Refund and Privacy policies visible on the site? These are usually in the footer on each page on the store.

  1. Yes. Perfect, read them. These will give you an indication of the standard operating procedures of the company, how seriously they take you as a customer and, how far they are willing to go to protect your information.
  2. No. Hmm so if you get the wrong product or the product is defective, or you don’t actually receive your goods, what then? You won’t really have a leg to stand on will you?

When checking out, are you notified that your transactions are secure and encrypted, that credit card information is never stored and that you will be redirected to a secure and trustworthy gateway to complete your purchase?

  1. Yes. By all indications you are on to a winner, they are safe, efficient and above board.
  2. No. Well, this is a no brainer, if the site doesn’t have the above mentioned safety features you may as well give your bank card and pin to the guy selling sweets in an unmarked van outside your local school yard. – No really, that’s dodgy!

By keeping these 5 points in mind when you shop online, you will be able to save yourself the trouble of having an unhappy shopping experience, you would also be looking out for your own financial safety and would be in a better position to make the right buying decision when the time comes. Happy shopping!