Review
  • Some online stores in South Africa rely on advertising time-sensitive deals to make impulse purchases.
  • Although these deals are sometimes cheaper than competitors, the discounts the stores offer are seldom, if ever, accurate.
  • Business Insider has been tracking the accuracy of daily deals on OneDayOnly and Takealot for five months.
  • And in October, both stores significantly overstated how much they were saving customers.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Online shops Takealot and OneDayOnly spend a lot of time telling shoppers just how dramatic their daily limited-time deals are. Each uses phrases like "Save 40%" or "37% off" in brightly coloured boxes. They also push shoppers to pay up before a deadline or risk missing out on a once-off offer.

The tactic of using dramatic discounts only available for a single day is the core of OneDayOnly's business model. This approach also forms a significant portion of how Takealot targets customers and attempts to close sales quickly.

Given each store's specialisation in the daily deal matter, it would stand to reason that their expertise would enable them to get accurate before and after prices. But research by Business Insider has shown this not to be the case - and it's unclear whether stores are being deliberately misled by their suppliers or if both parties are complicit in inflating recommended retail prices to increase the appearance of discounts.

Business Insider has been tracking random products advertised on each daily deal website and checking the integrity of the advertised deals since June 2021. 

In five months of monitoring products on each store, and evaluating just how accurate the advertised deals are, Business Insider has found that although prices may be lower than competitors, the promised discounts are seldom correct.

In percentage terms, the stores have at times exaggerated the discounts shoppers are receiving by between 48% and 168%. In some cases, products are available at the same price or cheaper at competing online stores - often without mention of a sale and without any time pressure.

savings accuracy
Savings accuracy (%)

Since Business Insider started tracking the veracity of each store's daily deal claims, both stores have exaggerated the recommended retail prices of some products to increase the apparent size of their daily deal discounts. And in the lead up to Black Friday, October was one of the worst months we've recorded.  

Here's how much Takealot and OneDayOnly exaggerated their discounts in September:

OneDayOnly

Across the 10 random products reviewed in October 2021, OneDayOnly claimed to offer discounts to a total of R6,220.

After researching the various products, we found that a more accurate cumulative discount came to R2,161.

On the day in question, there was a 96.86% (R4,059) difference between the discounts claimed by OneDayOnly and those prices available elsewhere.

The most significant overstated discount in rand value was R2,001 on a pair of Sony headphones.

OneDayOnly savings promised vs real savings (Rands
OneDayOnly savings promised vs real savings (Rands)

Takealot

Across the 10 random products reviewed in October 2021, Takealot claimed to offer daily deal discounts to a total of R10,690.

After researching the various products, Business Insider found that a more accurate cumulative discount amounted to R2,018.99.

On the day in question, there was a 136.45% (R8,671.01) difference between the discounts claimed by Takealot and those prices available elsewhere.

The most significant overstated discount in rand value was R4,840.00 on a Kenwood Mega Pack.

Takealot Rand Value Savings Promised vs Real
Takealot savings promised vs real savings (Rands)

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