The image of the bored male mindlessly fiddling in the background with his smartphone or tablet while his female partner shops up a storm is in danger: recent surveys suggest that he’s not surfing, but shopping.

The recent mobile shopping survey run by one of South Africa’s leading online retailers,, reveals South African men are following the international trend of shopping more via their mobile phones than their female counterparts (73 % vs 67 %). Men are also spending more via their mobile phones, with 55 % of men spending more than R500 per month on goods vs only 47 % of women.

Unsurprisingly, 74 % of respondents agreed they feel lost without their mobile phone, but the findings show that it’s men that are accessing the Internet via their phones the most, with 72 % of men accessing the Internet more than once an hour vs only 56 % of women.

The survey shows that men and women still equally favour their laptops and desktops to make purchases online. Interestingly, men prefer their phone to their tablet for online purchases; the opposite is true for women, who choose their tablet over their phone.

Another survey outcome, as if we didn’t already know it: increasingly, mobile users conduct online research and price comparisons. As much as 70 % of them use their mobile phones to do just this before deciding on a purchase.

“We can see this behaviour in Spree’s stats,” comments Karen Dempers, head of customer interaction at Spree. A third of Spree’s visits come from mobile phones, though people aren’t yet buying in the same proportion, she says. However, clearly customers are becoming more comfortable as the percentage of orders placed via mobile continues to grow.

According to Google, 85 % of online shoppers start searching on one device — most often a mobile phone — and make their purchase on another.

With 70 % of respondents having completed a purchase via their mobile phone, the increased confidence in mCommerce by South Africans may be as a result of the ease of purchasing non-physical items (such as airtime and electricity) via mobisites and apps. Nine out of 10 people surveyed made a purchase in this category. At least 73 % of those surveyed have also made a purchase of a physical product for delivery. The survey results support the upward trend seen in Spree’s orders via its mobile site, compared with desktop orders adds Dempers.

Spree, which styles itself South Africa’s first online shop to offer a “magazine-styled shopping experience”, combines advice on apparel, décor and gifts and beauty products with an online sales portal.

Source: Spree