Original Research

Analysing the impact of COVID-19 on the digital strategies of South African retailers

Faith Shenjere, Susanna L. Middelberg
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 16, No 1 | a864 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v16i1.864 | © 2023 Faith Shenjere, Susanna L. Middelberg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 February 2023 | Published: 23 November 2023

About the author(s)

Faith Shenjere, School of Accounting Sciences, Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Susanna L. Middelberg, School of Accounting Sciences, Management Cybernetics Research Entity, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Orientation: COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in e-commerce with retailers having to embrace digital technologies and develop, implement and/or update digital strategies.

Research purpose: This study aims to analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the digital strategies of four JSE-listed retailers.

Motivation for the study: The e-commerce industry in South Africa is still developing, and retailers need guidance on how to plan better for and manage new customer behaviour introduced by the pandemic.

Research design/approach and method: A multiple case study approach was followed to collect qualitative data from the integrated reports of four JSE-listed retailers for the financial year-ends of 2017 until 2021. A newly developed digital strategy hexagon framework was used as the measuring instrument.

Main findings: The findings indicate that the retailers with a pre-COVID digital strategy were better positioned to address challenges associated with the pandemic and also displayed the six components of the digital strategy hexagon framework in their integrated reports.

Practical/managerial implications: E-commerce businesses could use the framework to design a digital strategy and/or build on their existing digital strategy.

Contribution/value add: A novel digital strategy hexagon framework was designed, which could be used by businesses to build or improve their digital strategy.


COVID-19; digital disruption; digital strategy; e-commerce; retailers; South Africa.

JEL Codes

L10: General; M15: IT Management; O31: Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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