Picture: PEXELS/KAROLINA GRABOWSKA
Picture: PEXELS/KAROLINA GRABOWSKA

In this edition of the Business Day Spotlight, we look at how e-commerce has been embraced by South Africans in 2020 and reflect on transaction data from Black Friday, which took place at the end of November.

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Karen Nadasen, CEO of fintech company PayU SA. She is also the chair of the Ecommerce Forum of SA.  

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Nadasen begins by relating some of the activity on their platform on Black Friday. The Prosus-backed payments company experienced a 14.1% year-on-year growth in volumes on the day.

In previous years, South Africans started to take advantage of specials and deals from midnight onwards. Nadasen says this year was different. She and her team stayed up to deal with the expected rise in traffic from 12am to 2am, but it never materialised. But it was a very different story later in the day.

Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.
Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.

The most activity was from 8am to 9am, with as much as R38m spent in a single hour, a 39% increase from 2019.

The big winners were retailers, which accounted for 79% of trade, up 19% in 2020, while travel — hurt by Covid-19 lockdowns — accounted for just 11% of transactions, considerably down from 2019’s 20%. Nadasen says they were amazed by the volumes in the beauty industry, up 59%, and fashion, which jumped 117%. 

Nadasen then switches to Cyber Monday, a similar retail event that has tended to focus more on the sale of electronics and gadgets. She says transaction levels rose this year, but not at the rate seen on Black Friday.

Expectations were high at the start of the lockdown about the rise in e-commerce adoption locally. Nadasen says it has indeed come to pass. With R1.4bn spent on e-commerce platforms in 2019, she expects 2020 to end with this segment accounting for 4% to 5% of total retail in SA, nearly triple that of the previous year.

Nadasen also talks about PayU’s business in SA and around the world, the rate of e-commerce adoption in SA, factors holding the country back from greater adoption, and an outlook for 2021.

For more episodes, click here.

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