Not really in the African population's habits, e-business became successful those last months when the confinement and restrictions measures pushed consumers towards online trading platforms.
A study realized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and The NetComm Suisse e-Commerce Association confirmed this popularity and explained that the new coronavirus "changed online buying forever."
"The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the transition to a more digital world"
This study was conducted with 3 700 consumers coming from 9 emergent and developed economies, of which one African state, South Africa. It reviewed how pandemic changed the way consumers are using digital commerce and solutions. And the main conclusion is this one: "Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the transition to a more digital world."
In detail, the research shows that the number of online purchases rises from 6 to 10 percentage points in the majority of product categories. Technological and electronic devices are leading, followed by gardening and DIY, pharmaceutical products, education, furniture and household products, and finally, cosmetic and personal care products.
The study also revealed that women and people with higher education qualifications increase their online buying habits more than other categories of people. Strong growth in this habit has also been seen in the age range 25 to 44, stronger than for younger people.
"Changes operated right now will have lasting effects while the global economy is recovering"
Those changes in consumer habits could have "lasting effects." "Changes operated right now will have lasting effects while the global economy is recovering," general secretary of UNCTAD, Mukhisa KITUYI, said. Before adding: "The global acceleration of online purchases highlights the emergency for every country to seize those opportunities offered by digitalization while the world is going from the answer to the pandemic to recover."
"In the post-Covid world, the unprecedented growth of e-business will shake national and international retail trade framework," Carlo Terreni, president of the NetComm Suisse e-Commerce Association, observes. And while the study underlines that small merchants from South Africa were less ready to face the crisis, it seems crucial for the association that "politicians take concrete measures to ease e-business appropriation by small and middle-sized companies. To create a new specialized talent pool and attract international investors in the e-business sector."
Because not everything is perfect in the e-business sector, the growth didn't touch every field: the tourism sector has been stricken hard and saw average expenditures per consumer fall by 75%. And if the number of online purchases rises, the average monthly spending decreases. "Consumers of emerging and developed economies postponed significant expenses. People from emerging economies focused more on essential products," the report concludes. Nevertheless, opportunities are still there: "There are huge opportunities for industrialists that are still used to physical purchases, like fast-moving consumer goods and pharmaceutical products."