South Africa is Africa’s third largest economy and has long been a major driver of e-commerce across the continent. The country underwent one of the world’s most rigorous lockdowns during the first wave of the pandemic, and after some initial growing pains, e-commerce in South Africa advanced to new heights.
E-commerce spend on education boomed across South Africa in 2020, with a year-on-year increase of 67% on our platform in 2020. Beauty and cosmetics was another key segment, with the second-highest average transaction value (USD $67 per order) across all of PayU’s EMEA markets. Average transaction values in the education sector also rose significantly, from USD $136 to USD $404.
Mobile commerce continues to be a big part of the e-commerce picture in South Africa, with as many as 85% of transactions on our platform completed via mobile devices during the height of lockdown. As smartphones continue to become more widespread, mobile will be the key channel for reaching a new wave of South African e-commerce consumers.
Although South Africa is one of Africa’s richest economies, the e-commerce market still has significant room to run. Internet penetration remains only a little over 50% in South Africa, with e-commerce currently reaching just over a third of South Africans.
With nearly 60 million citizens, South Africa would be among the largest European countries by population. E-commerce merchants looking for under-the-radar growth markets with significant consumer potential and growth prospects should consider this fast-changing marketplace.