By design, traditional bricks and mortar retailers cannot satisfy the universal desire of the middleclass to have what they want when they want it. Extended shopping hours, wider product ranges and even international brands cannot provide what even the most elementary online retailer can: 24-hour satisfaction with the simple click of a mouse.
The “add to cart” is the newest form of retail therapy and Africans from Nairobi to Abuja can’t get enough of it. And it’s only just the beginning. According to a McKinsey report, 50% of the continent is expected to have access to the internet by 2025, with a projected 10% of retail sales as a result of online sales.
Jeremy Hodara, cofounder of e-store Jumia, is even more optimistic about Nigeria’s e-commerce growth, estimating that online sales will eventually account for half of retail sales in the country.
The African middle-class is swelling and the new bourgeoisie has money to spend.
Inspired by this growth, established and start-up retailers have ventured into the online space with great success. But there’s a moral disclaimer: Before reading our list of top 10 African online stores, safeguard your credit cards and repeat the mantra “I am not what I own”.
It’s the thing you wear every day and yet so many of us are guilty of neglecting it. Your skin. But with happy skin just a click away, there are no excuses. Enter Skoon, a natural skincare brand that’s designed with you, and the environment in mind.
Verdict? With beautiful packaging worthy of display and free shipping for purchase over R500, Skoon is a must-try.
Yesterday’s fashion can be transformed into today’s finances with the help of Nairobi’s Closet49. Linking sellers of clothes and fashion accessories to buyers across Kenya, Closet49 is the smart way to clear the clutter in your closet while upgrading your look. Stocking new designers, small retailers and second-hand items, Closet49 is the online equivalent of raiding your best friend’s wardrobe.
Verdict? With a handy app now available, skip the malls and log onto Closet49 for a closet upgrade.
Not your traditional online retailer, the website claims “We are street artists who sell culture.” The name which stands for Returning Home To Create, is a creative space selling local clothing and accessory brands like Babatunde, Thesis and Okmalumkoolkat.
Verdict? Support local entrepreneurs and earn some serious brownie points when you spoil your younger brother with something from this dynamic online store.
What do you need to know about fashion brand Kisua? Beyoncé wears it. Housing the brightest fashion talents from around the continent, Kisua is your one-stop online shop for African fashion with a contemporary edge.
Verdict? Don’t trawl the mall to find your stand-out outfit for a special occasion. Bookmark Kisua for something special. If it’s good enough for Beyoncé…
According to its mission statement, Soko’s goal is to show the world the “incredible design and creative ingenuity made in communities that lay outside of the digital economy.” Specialising in handcrafted jewellery made by artisans with natural and upcycled materials, shoppers from around the world are not only supporting a business but also a community of artisans.
Verdict? Soko offers African fashion with a conscience and also provides corporate gifting with personalised gift cards.
Known as South Africa’s e-commerce pioneer, Yuppiechef celebrates the joy of cooking and the art of transforming a house into a home. The kind of retailer that specialises in things that you never knew you wanted until you wanted them very badly (vintage compost bin and chocolate moustache moulds, anyone?) Yuppiechef is a dangerous website to browse if you’re inclined to label yourself a “foodie”.
Verdict? Pick Yuppiechef for your wedding registry and say “I do” to a happy home.
The best place for bargain books and just about everything else, Loot sells everything from office supplies and stationery to DVD box sets of your favourite series and razorblades.
Verdict? Great for tracking down lesser-known books at a cheaper-than-average price. We discovered Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth for only R137.
Established in 2013, Dip ST (spelled this way on the website) has a store in Braamfontein, but its online space means that you don’t have to live in Jozi to earn your street cred. Stocking the likes of Nike, Air Jordan and Adidas, the real prizes are the local brands such as Sol-Sol, 2Bop and GalXboy.
Verdict? If you’re going to be buying Nike and Adidas sneakers, support local entrepreneurs while doing it.
With the guiding intention of turning “pixel into paper”, Nifty250 embraces the impermanence of Instagram and fuses it with the nostalgic art of print photography. Simply pick your favourite Instagrams and the Nifty team will send you Polaroid-style prints, or strip-style prints to you in five working days.
Verdict? With a standard delivery cost of R35 – turn your Instagrams into insta-happiness. A Nifty250 voucher also makes a great gift for younger family members.
Your home is your sanctuary, so shouldn’t it be filled with art that inspires you? Forget gallery hunting, instead browse Guns & Rain for works from young contemporary fine artists from across southern Africa.
Verdict? The site is easy to navigate with artists’ bios that encourage informed choices and make for interesting reading. With global shipping available, your African treasure is only a click away.