Online Shopping in South Africa: What You Need To Know

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Online Shopping in South Africa 101

8 Jul 2019 LIFESTYLE

By Nomali Cele


Online shopping in South Africa has been on an upward trajectory for almost a decade. More and more people are turning online as it makes things marginally easier by saving the shoppers time. From having groceries delivered to your door to importing the perfect shoe for that social event, online shopping in South Africa is growing.

Recent statistics on how South Africans spend their time online showed that one of the most frequented websites – it’s in the top 10! – is an e-commerce site that sells everything from toilet paper roll holders, books and rugs to state-of-the-art gadgets, camping gear and bubbling alcohol from France.

If you are new to the world of online shopping and are feeling unsure, there are four things you need to keep in mind each time you shop. These may vary from online retailer to online retailer but knowing how each retailer approaches the below is important.



We are risk averse people and paying money into the unknown is the last thing we want to do. With online shopping in South Africa, you have three common payment options: EFT, credit card payment or cash on delivery.



Delivery options are how the e-retailer intends to get your purchases to you. Most online retailers work with couriers and have completely eliminated the South African Post Office as a delivery option, which is due to SAPO’s internal issues that have made it an unreliable entity.


Working with couriers means delivery dates and times are estimated and you are able to track when you order is delivered. Most online shops will offer free delivery should your order pass a certain total.


Returns & exchanges

This is important to know when shopping online because, unlike physical world shopping, a lot of variables can change when you shop online. The colour could be different, the size small or the sheen not quite what you expected. Any reputable online shop will allow customers to return within a reasonable period, most common are returns within 30 days of delivery.


As a customer, when you return an item your end of the deal is to ensure it is returned in the condition it was delivered – a condition in which the online retailer can still sell it to the next customer. When requesting a return, you let the retailer know whether you want to exchange the item or get a refund.



The online retailer’s terms are important to note because they determine the recourse you have as a shopper should something go wrong with your order. The terms are what govern whether the online shop allows you to return something, who pays for the return and whether you get refunded. Study these as they will save you stress down the line as a consumer.


Getting started with online shopping in South Africa requires that the shopper is diligent: Read the reviews, check the reputation of the retailer so you don’t meet any nasty surprises after you’ve made payment. Using online retailers such as Instagram boutiques come with a certain expectation of risk when compared with large, reputable retailers with policies in place. Do your research and get shopping!

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