Selling online in South Africa

Ecommerce sales facts & tips on selling in South Africa

The top ecommerce websites in South Africa are Amazon, and McAfee. Other top retail sites include BidorBuy, Alibaba, Apple,, eBay, and Woolworths. It’s worth checking out those popular ecommerce sites/platforms to see which one(s) would be the best fit for your product in terms of traffic volume, competition and the type of ecommerce buyers they attract.

The top products/product categories for South African online buyers include books, event tickets, travel tickets, DVDs/videos/music and hotel reservations. Offering products from these categories can help you establish your presence on the South African ecommerce market.

The top payment methods for digital purchases include payment card, cash on delivery and cash. It’s important to provide your (potential) customers with payment methods of their preference. In many cases, if online shoppers can’t find their preferred or trusted methods of payment during checkout, they will abandon the shopping cart.

Optimizing checkout for your customers can have the biggest impact on your conversion rates. This is crucial also for your international online buyers. Thus, take care to provide international payment, currency conversion and suitable shipping methods.

Mobile commerce is shaping the future of ecommerce in South Africa, but also around the world. Ecommerce sellers should bear this in mind when setting up their online stores and product listings. Mobile optimization and great mobile buying experience are a must for all growth-minded online sellers.

To drive South African traffic to your website, local marketing & SEO will help you get it right. When you localize your online store for international markets, enable international search engines to index your content to improve your organic international traffic. You can also leverage services, such as Google Shopping and Facebook ads internationally.

To ship your products to South Africa in the most efficient and cost-effective way, use global shipping / parcel forwarding services. This way you can get competitive international shipping rates, on average 30% lower, and pass the lower cost on to your buyers, increasing your competitive advantage.

South Africa: general information

Selling on the South African ecommerce market is a great option for growth-minded online sellers. When you launch your store in other countries, there are a few useful facts and data that you should consider.

There are 28,580,290 Internet users in South Africa and Internet penetration amounts to 52.00%. In terms of device usage, there are 20,089,000 smartphone users and smartphone penetration amounts to 36.20%. On a global scale, smartphones are being more and more widely used for digital purchases.

The total population of South Africa is 57,398,421. The median age is 27.1. The languages spoken in South Africa are Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu and the currency is South African rand. The country code top-level domain is .za and calling code +27.

According to the International Monetary Fund, GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP) is 765,568 (millions of Current Int$) and nominal GDP is 349,299 (US$MM). GDP (PPP) per capita is 13,403 Int$ and GDP (nominal) per capita is 6,180 US$. Real GDP growth rate is 0.70%.

South Africa
Country profile
Country Profile
Language(s) spokenAfrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, SiSwati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
CurrencySouth African rand
GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP)765,568
Nominal GDP349,299
GDP growth rate 0.70%
Number of Internet users28,580,290
Internet penetration52.00%
Top 5 ecommerce platforms
Top 5 Ecommerce Platforms / Retail Sites
1. Amazon
3. McAfee
4. BidorBuy
5. Alibaba
Top 3 payment methods
Top 3 Payment Methods for Digital Purchases
1. Payment card
2. Cash on delivery
3. Cash

International ecommerce sales potential

Selling in South Africa is worth considering for many international ecommerce sellers. A well thought out international sales strategy should help you overcome the initial burden of translating and localizing your online store.

If you’re a global online merchant already exporting to South Africa, you may be happy with your sales figures. However, you may have noticed that your South African, and your international traffic in general, converts at a much lower conversion rate than your domestic traffic, even in markets that share the same language. The likely reason being, many of the components of localization, beyond translation alone, have not been optimized.

A fully localized buying experience

  • Ecommerce-optimized translation
  • Size conversion
  • Currency conversion
  • Local marketing & SEO
  • Keywords
  • International payment
  • Shipping optimization
  • Taking care of restrictions and legal aspects.

Currently, international online retailers must do a great deal of manual work, matching product categories, attributes, sizes, etc. It’s not uncommon for them to not even be sure if they’re doing it correctly. Instead, trying to localize their online stores by themselves, ecommerce sellers find it time-consuming and confusing.

Luckily, thanks to the developments in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), online merchants don’t have to spend a lot of time on ecommerce translation & localization when launching their stores abroad.

A simple raw description is enough for AI to localize the whole content, extract attributes, convert sizes and map the right category in an accurate, efficient and consistent way. It’s just a matter of a quick set up before your localized stores are launched on tens of markets.

Combining machines’ capabilities and the intelligence of the human brain is often the easiest and fastest way to make the most of your international sales potential.

Sell in South Africa:
Translate & localize your online store with Webinterpret

Webinterpret enables online retailers and marketplace sellers on eBay and Amazon to instantly expand worldwide and boost their online sales. Our simple Plug & Play solution provides international buyers with a comprehensive end-to-end local shopping experience.

In partnership with PayPal, Webinterpret powers PayPal’s Global Sellers program, providing translation, price and size conversion, stock synchronisation, customer service and international shipping.

Expand your business even further

Show more