Google uncovers rise of ecommerce among consumers in Africa

Google uncovers rise of ecommerce among consumers in Africa

Consumers in Africa are increasingly turning to the Internet to research product purchases, data from Google South Africa reveals.

Prior to purchasing goods, more and more consumers are querying prices online and researching where products and services can be purchased. According to Google data, there was an increase of 49% in query volumes in Nigeria, 37% in South Africa and 33% in Kenya, during 2014.

Luke Mckend, Country Director for Google South Africa, revealed the search engine findings at the eCommerce Africa Confex in Cape Town this week.

Mckend outlined the rise of ecommerce in Africa, commenting, “This speaks to the trend that there’s very little difference between online and offline purchases. People just think: ‘I’m shopping’. Africa is doing what their international partners are doing.”

A recent retailing study conducted by Urban Studies on behalf of South African Council of Shopping Centres revealed that Africa and the Middle East’s share of global ecommerce in 2015 is just 2%, yet Google predicts that a large ecommerce market will emerge in Africa by 2017 as the continent becomes more familiar with technological advances.

Mckend commented, “We will be seeing countries in Africa getting connected to the internet that we have not seen before in the next year or two. The next wave of innovation will come from tech we haven’t even seen yet.”

Two ecommerce trends occurring in South Africa that Mckend highlighted were the recent “sock wars” occurring between two strong competitors selling socks online and Netflorist’s attempt to sell fresh cupcakes.

“Who imagines there’s enough volume in the local online environment that there can be such a niche service? All of this change and experimentation is important to see how big the market is,” he noted.