South Africans are increasingly shopping online for everyday necessities. No longer is that online purchase reserved for a killer set of heels or specialised piece of sporting equipment, people are buying everything from farm-fresh produce to pet food, even alcohol. 

The one huge benefit of shopping online is choice – in terms of products and the ‘stores’ from which you buy. The online retail sector was gaining ground long before COVID-19 hit, but what the pandemic has no doubt done is make consumers more discerning when it comes to which online stores to trust and buy from.

Here are a handful getting it right at the moment:  

JUST LIKE PAPA
Premium outdoor gear, gadgets and just plain cool stuff for the home. Just Like Papa specialises in curated collections of high-end adventure products that are authentic, trusted and stand the test of time. 

“We’re talking about products that get better with age, just like the stories they’re involved in,” reads their about page. 

From GPSs, cooler boxes and hip flasks to knives, coffee and beyond all in an easy-to-use interface with solid, informative product descriptions. 

LIQUOR.CO.ZA
Liquor.co.za, takes all the hassle out of your alcohol shopping, from searching for the product right down to delivery to your door. 

The website’s customer interface is focused on providing consumers with a platform that is supremely user-friendly yet has a personality and flair behind it. 

Not only does liquor.co.za offer the best deals on a vast range of liquor products, from the most popular, to the premium and those crafted, seldom-seen brands, but customers can also purchase using finance options. 

“We have gone with a mobile first approach,” explains Alan Jaffe from eComplete the consumer ecommerce specialists behind the technical side of the platform. 

“Not only have we crafted one of the easiest checkout experiences, but we’ve engineered it to be easy to find what you’re looking for, quicker than anyone else.” According to Jaffe, there is no need for an app, thanks to how efficiently the website is mobile-optimised. 

It is also the flagship outlet for the recently launched Skinny range of low-calorie, premium hard seltzers.

FAITHFUL TO NATURE
South Africa’s largest ethical and natural retailer, Faithful to Nature went from strength to strength throughout the past year, primarily as its health and wellness site that offers food and household products operated throughout the national lockdowns. 

The online portal offers trusted ranges in everything from health products and supplements, to cleaning aids, plant seeds and stationery supplies.

It is already implementing various ways to tackle the green economy – vetting each ingredient in every product offered, advocating for plastic-free products, having a 100% biodegradable label and a 99% waste-free warehouse. 

To top this the company is also the first major retailer to roll out carbon neutral deliveries for all customer orders. 

UCOOK
The concept of a dinner kit delivery service is not a new one, but we’ve yet to find another company that does this in as slick a manner (and to this high a standard) as UCOOK

It creates packages complete with pre chopped (and washed) ingredients as well as an easy-to-follow recipe. All that is left for you to do is stick to the basic instructions and voila! It’s the answer for those short on time (or cooking skills). 

YUPPIECHEF
Something of a pioneer in the online retail space, Yuppiechef continues to innovate and stay ahead of the curve to keep customers coming back. 

Both online and physically. Interestingly, everyone’s favourite online kitchenware store, flipped the coin, venturing into physical retail with a flagship store in the V&A Waterfront. 

Their retail showroom perhaps offers a glimpse into the future of retail – shopping that features integration between digital and brick-and-mortar. 

The showroom employs smart digital tags through which customers are able to access relevant product information, reviews, and price comparisons on their phones.