South Africa E-Commerce Boom Prompts Kalahari.com Expansion

KALAHARI

VENTURES AFRICA- Veteran South-African internet-retailer Kalahari.com announced this week that it would be expanding its business with the introduction of seven new product categories, following an unprecedented increase in the South-African e-commerce market. The retailer will now provide a range of products in the baby, homeware, pets, outdoor, tools and appliances categories, in addition to continuing its previous services.

While initially online retail was not particularly successful in the South African market with the new sector suffering a very slow start, recently customers have demonstrated a significant shift to preferring the online medium. This has prompted many conventional retailers to scurry to join the online market.

In a report commissioned by Google this year, researchers World Wide Worx found that online retail in South Africa is growing up to 30 per cent annually, irrefutably demonstrating that shoppers are increasingly turning to the online market for their consumer needs.

Similarly, Mastercard - having conducted its worldwide online shopping survey – reported that the South African market had seen a substantial boom, with over 60 per cent of survey participants stating that they use the internet for online shopping. This displays a significant increase from the 2010 survey in which only 53 per cent of survey respondents admitted to using the online retail sector.

Even Mastercard rival Visa was in agreement as to the boom in the South African internet retail market. In its report entitled “Connecting with the Millenials” (people born between 1982 and 1995), Visa claimed that over 68 per cent of study participants use online shopping opportunities. With millenials making up 25 per cent of the global population, Visa concluded that cash will: “soon be ancient history”.

It is in response to this climate then, that Naspers-owned Kalahari announces its new product lines. Kalahari.com marketing manager Liz Hillock announced that: “Consumers are not just looking for CDs and DVDs any more. The launch of the new categories is timely as more South Africans are shopping online for a wider range of products”. She continued to explain that the site had seen substantial growth in demand for appliances, with a particular spurt of growth in niche demand for high-value cameras.

At Naspers’ annual general meeting last week, Naspers group chairman Ton Vosloo outlined the company’s forecast, predicting that the coming five to ten years will see a huge growth in the online retail sector, and that at the end of this period online shopping will represent the largest portion of internet use altogether. Thus explaining the push to expand all of its internet-retail based interests.