International Shipping

South Africa Shipping & Selling eCommerce Guide

Shipping and selling from South Africa is easy with our guide. Find reliable & cheap ways to ship through USPS, FedEx and more!
South Africa Shipping & Selling eCommerce Guide

By Jules


July 4, 2019

South Africa boasts a growing eCommerce market and sizeable population, making shipping to South Africa a great idea if you’re looking to go cross-border!

Before you start selling to South Africa, it’s important to know more about the country’s eCommerce market if you want to find success. To that end, here’s a closer look at some market insights, top marketplaces to consider selling on, import restrictions and prohibitions and more!

Strong eCommerce Revenue Growth

South Africa, located in southern tip of Africa, boasts a growing population and economy. The country has a population of approximately 56 million and a total GDP of about $295 billion, making it an emerging player in the global economy. eCommerce has been actively promoted by the South Africa government, helping to boost its growth in recent years.

Per Statista, eCommerce growth in South Africa has been very promising, with an estimated annual revenue growth rate of about 9.9 percent.

Currently, there are about 18.4 million Internet users in South Africa, but the addition of around 6.3 million more is estimated by 2021. 42 percent of Internet users spend more than three hours online while 26 percent spend more than five hours.

All in all, these factors make shipping to South Africa a great decision for online merchants looking to expand cross-border to a market with a large population and robust eCommerce revenue growth.

Many countries, including South Africa, have their own eCommerce marketplaces that are trusted by the sellers and buyers alike. A few to consider selling on in the country include:

  • Amazon
  • McAfee
  • BidorBuy
  • Alibaba
  • Apple
  • eBay
  • Woolworths

All of these platforms have their own advantages in terms of ease of use and traffic volume. Be sure to choose the right one based on factors such as your target market, type of items you want to sell, payment methods available, demographics and the like.

Electronics and Media Top Product Category for Online Shopping

Electronics and media items are among the most popular in the country, followed by furniture and appliances. The other popular categories include fashion and toys, hobbies and DIY items.

Cash on Delivery as the Top Payment Method

South Africans, unlike many eCommerce buyers worldwide, prefer cash on delivery payments as a top payment method. Credit and debit cards are also commonly used, as is PayPal.

Black Friday is a widely popular time to both buy and sell goods in South Africa. Winter sales in July and August are common, as are summer sales from December until February.

Christmas and Boxing Day are among the most popular holidays in South Africa for buying and selling as well.

Shipping to South Africa

Before you start shipping to South Africa from the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, it’s important to understand the country’s import regulations, customs duties and available couriers. Here’s a quick look at just that!

South Africa Import Regulations

South Africa has its own set of rules and regulations and customs duties. There are a number of items which you can’t send at all to South Africa while other items you can send only after getting proper permission and documentation. You should also get complete information about tax and customs duties for specific products you intend to sell before you start shipping to South Africa.

Restricted items in South Africa:

  • Herbal products
  • Gold coins
  • Medicine
  • Animals
  • Excess currency

Prohibited items in South Africa:

  • Ammunition
  • Dry ice
  • Plants and seeds
  • Furs
  • Drugs and narcotics
  • Uncut diamonds

For a more exhaustive list, click here.

In addition, South Africa also imposes a VAT of 15 percent and a tax and duty threshold of 500 ZAR.

Import duties are all variable based on product category, with many products, such as mobile devices, tablets, computers, watches, jewelry, books and games facing no import duties. Some categories, however, face very steep duties, such as fashion items, all of which face 45 percent import duties, and luggage, which also faces a hefty 30 percent import duty.

Be sure to check out the Easyship tax and duty calculator for full transparency when shipping to South Africa. Don’t get caught by surprise when shipping cross-border!

Many Couriers Available for Shipping to South Africa

Major couriers such as USPS, UPS, DHL and FedEx all offer reliable shipping services to South Africa.

In addition, some of the popular local courier services to consider include:

  • Fastway Couriers
  • Door to Door Courier
  • Pargo
  • Dawn Wing Couriers
  • ACT Logistics

Always check out the Easyship shipping rates calculator to find the cheapest shipping to South Africa as well as the options that offer the fastest and best value solutions!  

South Africa: A Growing eCommerce Opportunity

South Africa offers a fast-growing eCommerce market and robust, Internet-savvy population, making it an ideal opportunity for growing your business cross-border in a thriving market.

Sign up for Easyship for free today to start shipping to South Africa and growing your business globally!