6 Top Steps to Starting an Ecommerce Business in South Africa

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6 Top Steps to Starting an Ecommerce Business in South Africa

6 Top Steps to Starting an Ecommerce Business in South Africa

Starting an ecommerce business in South Africa can be a complex task, especially for those who have no foreknowledge about ecommerce marketing in South Africa. Luckily, Else Mart, with its over 10 years’ experience in ecommerce, gives you six top steps to starting an online business in South Africa.

These six steps are very helpful and useful when you are considering starting an ecommerce business here in South Africa. Note that this is just a guide when you are setting up your ecommerce store and not necessary an exclusionary list which you must strictly follow.

Step 1: Pick your Product(s)

The first step you must take before creating your e-store is choosing the product(s) or service(s) that you will offer to people. According to Gurjeet Singh, these products or services must get people coming back for more. He said: “subscription business is a hot cake in e-commerce business.”

After choosing your product, consider the size. Think of products that can be easily imported and delivered to your buyers. Try to make your services repeat-purchase services. According to Gurjeet, small size products “lowers your warehousing costs and shipping costs and reduces your hassle.”

Consider products that do not require lots of pre-sales and post-sales support. Opt-in for products that have low returns and require low-sales support. This will save you some time and money.

When choosing your product, keep in mind the local restrictions and regulations. For instance, different products have different regulations in South Africa, electronic products or any product that requires a Wi-Fi signal must be ICASA certified. Obtaining ICASA certification costs 4,000 Rands and takes three weeks, Gurjeet said.

Avoid products with low margins, don’t consider anything lower than 20%. However, products with higher margins with at least 45% are advisable. This will also give you a cushion that you’ll need when you make mistakes, which are sometimes inevitable.

More so, factor in import duties. Prepare yourself for anything that may come with import duties so as to avoid getting into issues with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Import duties may be from 0-45%. Get the breaks down all the import duties from SARS.

Finally, look for products that are being sold overseas. Research on products that are trending overseas and see if they are being sold in South Africa and if they are not, this might be an opportunity for you to plug the gap, Gurjeet said.

Choose The Best Content Management System (CMS)

Now that you have picked your product(s) and service(s), it’s time to create your ecommerce website. According to Gurjeet, the best content management system (CMS) options for aspiring ecommerce marketers are WordPress, Magento, WooCommerce, and Shopify. He said: “these CMSs allow you to offer your products and services in Rands. More so, they have support systems that integrate with all of the South African service providers.

Except you are an expert ecommerce developer, you would need the service of professional ecommerce website developers in South Africa. Shopify allows you to go live sooner but not too good for products that measure in length.

Irrespective of the CMS you choose, Else Mart is a professional and experienced ecommerce developer in South Africa that can handle all of your ecommerce website needs.

Choose A Payment Gateway

The next step to starting an ecommerce store in South Africa is choosing a way for your customers to pay. There are several payment gateway options you can choose from, about 11 of them are in South Africa. However, Payfast seems to be the best from a public survey. Paygate also offers excellent customer service.

Even without a business bank account, you can operate your Payfast payment gateway with your personal bank account. At least, choose any suitable payment gateway that accepts credit card transactions and/or EFT payments without a stumbling block. The most important thing is to get your ecommerce website live and start taking payments.

Launch Your Website and Start Making Sales

Now that you have gotten the basics of your ecommerce business, it’s time to launch and make some sales. Don’t wait till your site is completely perfect, Gurjeet advised: “make your site live as soon as possible because the perfect is never going to come, but when it is live, you can start working from there.” Work is never completed and work is always in progress. Once your site is live, Gurjeet advice that you promote your business on blogs and social media, offer launch specials, market to family and friends, and go to events, expos, and flea market to sell your products or services in person.

You can also generate traffic to your ecommerce website through search engine optimization (SEO). According to Gurjeet, SEO is a very good way of generating traffic to your website when you don’t have the money for other forms of marketing. Visit Else Mart for more SEO advice.

Start Delivering

Either you offer local or international sales, you would need to choose a delivery service. You have to choose a courier company that would deliver the purchased products to buyers. For e-commerce business in South Africa, Gurjeet suggests these courier companies – SendR, FastWay, Dawn Wing, MDS Collivery, The Courier Guy, Rush and uAfrica. All these courier companies are very effective for start-up ecommerce marketing in South Africa.

It is advisable to outsource your warehousing, this will make life easier for you and your work would be far less complicated. Though outsourcing your warehousing is a bit more expensive, but you can cover up cost with a high margin.

Grow and Scale Your Business

This is the final step in starting an ecommerce business in South Africa. Now that you have your ecommerce business up and running, you need to look for ways to grow and scale it. A way of doing this according to Gurjeet is outsourcing services and staff. One thing you should know is ecommerce business expands and contracts depending on time and season. When your business contracts during busier times and seasons like Black Friday and Christmas and you need more help, you can easily make meeting the needs someone else’s problem. And during contraction time, you wouldn’t be spending excess money on idle staffs.

Also, always consider your products database and restock your products based on what your customers demand. Offering subscription-based products or services (products or services that require a subscription) is a good way to grow and scale your business and increase sales.

Now that you’ve gotten these six helpful steps, let nothing hinder your dream of starting an ecommerce business in South Africa anymore. Consult Else Mart today for all of your ecommerce marketing needs in South Africa on +27 (0) 61 578 0000 or email us at info@elsemart.com.


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