SA online retailers benefit from 'e-Christmas' rush

Online retailers will have generated about R200-million by the time stores close for Christmas this year, technology research group World Wide Worx said on Thursday.

Research conducted separately by the technology market researchers as well as the shopping search site Jump Shopping said this will be South Africa’s first “e-Christmas”, when people go shopping online for festive-season gifts on a large scale.

“We expect the holiday season to contribute to at least 20% of the total R929-million expected to be spent online in 2007, with the proportion possible rising to as much as 25%,” said World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck.

He said that World Wide Worx’s study of internet shopping, Online Retail in South Africa 2007, confirms that consumers are beginning to gain confidence in online gift shopping.

“While it is clear that books, DVDs, CDs and electronics like iPods and satellite navigation devices are hot online this month, it depends on the quality of online retail sites which stores and items benefit the most,” said Goldstuck, adding: “That’s where the search engines play a role.”

He said that major search sites such as Google and Ananzi are the starting point for many shoppers, who then often find themselves on specialised shopping search sites like Jump Shopping.

“We can already see which products are generating the most heat through the searches on our site,” said Jump Shopping MD Albert Bredenhann.

The top three product searches include GPS satellite navigation systems, gaming consoles Wii or PlayStation 3, and iPods or MP3 players.

“It looks like it will be a gadget Christmas online,” said Bredenhann.

The 2006 South African holiday season sales figure of R137-million represented 20% of total online retail in 2006, up from 16% of the total in 2005.

According to Goldstuck, these findings confirm the significance of holiday-season spending for online retailers, in line with the experience of physical retailers, and for the first time represent a dramatic increase over normal spending patterns.

He said that since the holiday season covers just more than five weeks, which represents about 10% of the calendar year, a figure of 20% of annual sales being achieved during this period suggests a potential doubling of sales over this period for many online retailers.—I-Net Bridge

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