Mobile shopping booms

The recently undertaken Mobile Shopping Survey shows that 51% of connected South Africans access the mobile Internet every day, 26% have already made a purchase and a further 53% are considering it.

The survey covered more than 6200 connected South Africans and shows the mobile web has entered the mainstream and South Africans are ready for mobile commerce.

Says Gary Novitzkas, CEO of, "The number of people accessing the mobile Internet is skyrocketing and we expect it to overtake the PC as the most sought after way to access the Internet in less than five years. As an online retailer, this has resulted in a new type of browser experience, another channel to market and therefore a slightly different sales platform. Developed specifically for the mobile phone, our site continues to establish itself not only as an industry leader in online retail, but also mobile retail."

Quick results

More than 50% of connected South Africans connect to the mobile Internet everyday; 89% feel that the mobile web is as safe as fixed line Internet; More than a quarter of mobile Internet users have already made a purchase on the mobile web; 37% have or would spend in excess of R1,000 shopping on the mobile web; Vodacom and MTN come in almost head-to-head as the preferred service provider with marginally over 40% each. Cell C (13%), Virgin Mobile (2%) and 8-Ta (0.4%) follow; Nokia (38%) is the preferred handset brand followed by BlackBerry (31%), Samsung (12%), iPhone (8%) and Sony Ericsson (5%); 21% regularly buy data bundles while these are included in 38% of the respondents' contracts.

In developing countries such as South Africa where mobile phone penetration outnumbers fixed Internet users 5:2, the mobile screen is the only screen for many. As smart phones start entering the mainstream, a new generation of Internet user is emerging. Coined the mobile-only Internet generation, they do not, or very rarely also use a desktop, laptop or tablet to access the Web.

With 51% accessing the Internet via their mobiles every day, 18% every week and 12% every month, the mobile Internet is bulldozing its way into the mainstream.

Top buys

When asked what products they were most likely to purchase on a mobile shopping site, no clear winners emerged. Applications, flight tickets, airtime, books, CDs and DVDs, music downloads and games were all supported with between 10% to 13% votes. Electronic devices such as mobile phones and groceries each garnered 5%.

"This highlights the importance of search functionality on mobi sites. We had to be deliberate in deciding what features to include in our mobile shopping offering, simply because it is not possible to fit everything onto the phone screen. Search defines how the end-user interacts with the site specifically because they need to be one screen away from where they want to be at any given point," says Novitzkas.

Although mobile commerce is in its infancy the globe over, with retailers reporting to Forrester Research that mobile browsers generate little less than 3% of the overall site traffic and 2% of revenue, long-term growth in mobile commerce is expected to come from developing nations where mobile is virtually the only way to access the Internet.

"Despite the size of the online retail environment in South Africa, we have proven that we are recession proof and continue to report growth. With our track record in the tough online retailing sector coupled with the fertile mobile commerce environment, the company aims to pioneer a sustainable and vibrant mobile commerce culture locally with the launch of our new mobile site. The survey shows that South Africans are ready to embrace mobile shopping," concludes Novitzkas.

Post published in: Tech

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