The Guard

The Truth On Board

Make money with e-commerce

By Thabo Baxa

How You Can Thrive In South Africa’s E-commerce Space

Here’s something interesting: the value of e-commerce transactions in South Africa is expected to surge 150% to R225bn by 2025. This incredible growth signals a massive shift in how South Africans shop. However, this space also presents unique challenges, including logistical hurdles and building consumer trust in online transactions.

I recently attended the Insake Ecommerce Virtual Summit 2024, and despite these challenges, I was blown away by the potential for businesses of all sizes to tap into the power of e-commerce. Here are some key takeaways I learned to help you get started or grow your business by leveraging e-commerce:

First Get Started – Just Start, Build a Simple Store and Load Your Products
Many potential e-commerce entrepreneurs get stuck in analysis paralysis, endlessly tweaking their plans without ever hitting launch. I have done it as well. The truth is, you’ll learn more from actually having an online store live than you ever will from planning. Here’s the thing: your store doesn’t need to be perfect to start attracting customers.
Focus on getting the basics right: a functional store with clear product descriptions and images, and a simple checkout process. There are tons of user-friendly platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, along with affordable web designers if you need help with the technical setup.

How to Sell Online with Digital Marketing
Digital marketing has changed the game for small businesses. It’s now more affordable than ever to reach your perfect customers directly. Here is how you can do it:
Content is King: Consistently create blog posts, product guides, or videos that provide value and build expertise in your niche. This establishes you as a helpful resource and attracts customers organically.
Social Media is Your Shop Window: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are where South Africans connect. Use these to showcase your products, share customer stories, and build a community around your brand.
Targeted Ads Made Easy: Don’t let “paid advertising” intimidate you. Social media and search engines let you target ads very specifically, meaning you can get your products in front of the exact right people without wasting money on a billboard seen by thousands who’d never buy.

Embrace a Mobile-First Approach
You Are on Your Phone All Day, Why Not Use It to Make Money, Build for Mobile and Market Heavily on WhatsApp Status
South Africans live on their phones! Your e-commerce store needs to be designed primarily with mobile users in mind. Think: fast loading pages, easy navigation on a small screen, and clear calls-to-action on product pages.
WhatsApp is a secret weapon for South African e-commerce. Use WhatsApp Status to share flash sales, new products, and quick promotions directly to your customers. This immediate, personal channel is incredibly powerful.

Thabo Baxa.

Hidden Potential of Township E-commerce
Kasi has a unique e-commerce opportunity that big players are often missing. Here’s where you as a smaller business have the upper hand:
Trusted Relationships: In communities where people know each other, personal connection is everything. As a smaller business, you can build trust faster and establish loyalty that large, faceless corporations struggle with.
Don’t Forget Offline: Use Flyers, posters in local stores, newspapers like The Guard and partnering with community leaders to spread the word as these in the Township are still incredibly effective to grow your ecommerce store.
Your Delivery Advantage: Smaller businesses can react faster and offer same-day or next-day delivery within townships – a huge convenience that larger e-commerce players often struggle with.

The Power of Strategic Partnerships Building your e-commerce business doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. Strategic partnerships with other businesses can open up exciting possibilities and help you grow faster. Here’s how:

Find the Right Fit: Think about businesses that offer complementary products or services to yours, but aren’t in direct competition. For example, if you sell home décor, you could partner with a furniture maker or a cleaning service provider.

Cross-Promotion Power-Up: Collaborate on marketing campaigns to reach each other’s audiences. This could involve bundled deals, co-hosting webinars or contests, or simply cross-promoting each other on social media.

Strengthen Your Supply Chain: Could you partner with local suppliers to improve your product sourcing? Or perhaps team up with smaller delivery companies specializing in a specific area, ensuring faster fulfilment and better customer experience?
This is only the beginning for e-commerce in South Africa, and the opportunities are endless for you to earn well. Remember, a simple but functional start is better than never starting at all. Leverage the power of digital marketing, embrace a mobile-first approach, and tap into the unique advantages that exist within townships. Don’t be afraid to seek out strategic partnerships that can propel your growth even further. All the best with your e-commerce journey!