We bought from Amazon on its first day in South Africa

The summary: Despite some pricing oddities and technical hiccups on its first day, the shopping experience of Amazon South Africa is mostly good, but the selection just does not justify yet another online retailer in the country. Hopefully this is a soft launch and can beef up its inventory to offer a real reason to ditch Takealot. The search function should also be improved. Our delivery to a Joburg address was free and took less than a day, which is appreciated.

After years of South Africans asking and hoping for Amazon to launch its retail website in the country, the company did just that with little notification yesterday. is now live for anyone to use and we took the opportunity to put in an order to see what the shopping experience is like for the new kid on the ecommerce block.

Firstly the search and browsing experience on Amazon South Africa is not great right now. Any given search results in countless books which may or may not be related to what you are looking for. It honestly feels like the majority of’s stock is just books.

Once you filter out the books the results still aren’t the best. The UI isn’t a hundred percent clear when it comes to telling you what is or is not in stock. This may be due to our unfamiliarity with the site but we wish the results default to pushing what is in stock and ready to order right to the top.

From these results we can also see that South Africa doesn’t really have its own discrete version of Amazon. This is because, for certain items, reviews from other parts of the world are included.

Take our search below for Transformers toys. You can see that each have hundreds of reviews but these are from several countries such as Canada, Mexico, France, the USA and more.

We see this a generally good ideas as it means more information for us, the consumers, before we pull the trigger on a purchase. It may make finding locally-relevant reviews more difficult but hopefully this is mitigated by South Africa-specific items only having reviews from this country.

In our search for our first purchase we also hit some technical issues. For example we found a great deal on a book that was 50 percent off, but when we went to add it to our cart the listing essentially disappeared. The book wouldn’t show up in searches again and the only way we could navigate back to it was pulling the URL from our search history.

Technical problems on launch day were also met with a lot of oddities around pricing. South Africans may have seen an amazing deal on the Xbox Series X (image from a local user on X) which was either removed or sold out rather quickly.

In the Transformers example above we even saw oddities with those prices changing as the day went on.

After picking what we wanted to buy for our order, the account creation, checkout and payment process was completely painless. Even new users will be able to go from account creation to completed order in just a few minutes.

We got emails from Amazon at every step of the process including an alert about when our package had been picked up for delivery. On the delivery front the company DPD Laser handled this for the Joburg delivery, but other companies may be used depending on where you are and what you order.

The speed of the delivery was insanely fast and arguably the most impressive part of the process. We placed and paid for our order at 15:50 on 7th May. It was delivered at 09:39 on 8th May. That’s less than 24 hours and, again, delivery was free on our order.

The package arrived in a padded envelope instead of the familiar Amazon box. We were sceptical about this but the contents were not damaged at all so we have little to complain about.

We provided the delivery person with the phone number provided at checkout and a digital signature before being given the package. Thankfully Amazon South Africa has not adopted the frankly insane practice of leaving packages out in the open, unattended, which is the norm in the USA and some other countries.

With the whole transaction now completed we can recommend Amazon to South Africans, but as always only if the price is right. If Takealot, Loot or some other online store has what you need for less money, there’s really no reason to pick Amazon right now.

Amazon does boast about 24/7 customer support, 30 day returns and other benefits, but those other online retailers also usually offer some such guarantees.

We’ll need to see if Amazon can offer some other benefits here in South Africa that the competitors can’t match, such as noticeable better pricing, a wider range of stock or the benefits of Amazon Prime, which are not available at this time.

Lastly it is worth mentioning that there is a promotion for free delivery for first orders when using code WELCOME at checkout. Delivery also seems to be free for any order over R500.


About Author


Related News