E-commerce in Madagascar 2017 [Poll results]

25/11/2017. Here are the results of a survey on e-commerce in Madagascar conducted in November 2017 on a sample of 2735 people. This survey was conducted by the Stileex team. You are free to distribute and use the content of this article, including images, in exchange for a link to this article.

Analysis of the survey on online sales in Madagascar


We realize after this study that online sales in Madagascar are still underdeveloped. Only one person out of 10 declares having already made an online purchase in Madagascar.

The two major problems hindering the development of e-commerce in Madagascar are the lack of consumer confidence (38%) and remote payment problems (30%).

Internet, a service that is still not very democratic

Indeed, the Internet penetration rate in Madagascar is still far too low: 5.4% according to a study published by ARTEC (Autorité de Régulation des Technologies de Communication) in 2015. This low penetration rate can easily be explained by the prohibitive prices charged by Malagasy Internet service providers, which are increasing year after year. It should be noted that an ADSL connection costs more than the national average wage.

No wonder the digital economy has not yet taken hold on the Big Island. It should also be noted that there are no dominant e-merchants in Madagascar, with most online shoppers going through Facebook. There is therefore no industry leader to give the impetus towards the sustained development of e-commerce.

Remote payments

Payment problems come second. The rate of banking is very low in Madagascar. In 2016 less than 4% of the population will have a bank account according to the Central Bank.

So forget about online payments with Visa or Mastercard. You have to turn to mobile banking for remote payments. On this subject, I refer you to a previous study that was conducted in early 2017 on mobile money in Madagascar. According to this survey, 87% of the respondents said they had a Mvola, Orange money or Airtel money account.

Mobile banking is still poorly adapted to online sales, despite the efforts of some operators to develop APIs (sort of programs) to communicate their service with online shops. It should be noted that one operator, Orange, even makes e-merchants pay for the purchase of its API… This obviously adds an additional brake to the development of e-commerce in Madagascar.

The good news: more than half (55%) of people who have never made an online purchase say they are ready to take the plunge!

The most purchased products on the Internet

Unsurprisingly, hi-tech products (telephones, computer equipment, etc.) and ready-to-wear dominate the online sales market, with shares of 23.94% and 23.24% respectively.

This is not very surprising given the number of online sellers on Facebook who offer these products.

Then come services (such as Simafri web hosting), furniture (with notably the main player in this segment bonmarche.mg) and food.

83.13% of products and services purchased on the Internet are for personal needs, compared with 16.87% for professional expenses.

Frequency and average shopping basket

Internet shopping in Madagascar is very sporadic: less than 2 online purchases per year for 36.9% of people who have already bought online. People who buy less than 6 times a year, i.e. less than once every two months, still represent more than 2/3 of the people surveyed (71.42%).

This low purchase frequency cannot be explained by a poor customer experience, as more than half of Internet consumers say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided by e-merchants. 43.21% of respondents say they had a fair experience and only 1.23% regret having bought on the Internet.

As for the average amount of the shopping baskets, it is fairly uniform, with a predominance for the 20,000 to 100,000 Ar expenditure bracket. It should be noted that Internet purchases exceeding 500,000 Ar are quite common in Madagascar.

Most used payment methods for e-commerce

As we saw earlier, the rate of bancarisation in Madagascar is very low. So, not surprisingly, payments with Visa/Mastercard and via services such as Paypal are little used, with less than one person in 10.

Similarly, it is not surprising that almost a third (29.42%) of respondents say they use mobile banking to pay for their online purchases.

However, what is remarkable is that the method of payment most used in Madagascar for e-commerce is … cash! This method of payment is preferred by 42.16% of respondents. This shows the technological backwardness of the digital economy in the Big Island.

The predominance of cash payments can be explained by the lack of confidence in remote payments in Madagascar, but also by sales platforms that are not sufficiently advanced (Facebook accounts, website without basket management, etc.).

Note that e-merchants are starting to make their business more automated by using Openflex sales management ERPs such as e-Tsena or J’ShoOpin.

In conclusion

I am convinced that e-commerce in Madagascar is still in its infancy, and that it has a great future ahead of it. In fact, I have already had concrete experience in this field myself and I consider online sales to be an effective way to make money in Madagascar.

However, in order to succeed, e-merchants must give themselves the means to do so: a bug-free, aesthetic and well-referenced online shop, process automation software such as the excellent Openflex, more elaborate marketing, the use of management tools such as CRM software, real monitoring of web-related KPIs, etc.

I also believe that it is not mandatory to follow the path that online sales have taken in Europe. For example, focusing on mobile sales before even selling via a website can be more innovative, efficient and more adapted to emerging markets.

The development of e-commerce in Madagascar must also go through a democratization of the Internet, therefore a decrease in the prices charged by ISPs…

Procedure for this study

The survey was conducted online with a sample of 2735 people, broken down as follows:

Under 18 years old6,00%
Between 18 and 25 years old25,39%
Between 26 and 35 years old27,76%
Between 36 and 45 years old21,65%
Between 46 and 60 years old13,39%
Over 60 years old5,81%
City of residencePercentage
Diego Suarez3,34%


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here