How to launch an online business in South Africa

Launching an online business is no longer the technical challenge it once was. With basic computer skills and an Internet connection, entrepreneurs and business owners can sell various products and services through the web.

There are limitations to consider, of course. If you are selling a product that needs to be sent via courier to customers, you need to consider the weight and size of what you want to sell.

However, you no longer have to worry about building or implementing all the technology necessary to run an online shop if you do not have web development skills.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp allow businesses to establish an online presence without needing to host their own website.

Third-party seller marketplaces like the one offered by Takealot handle payments and logistics, so you don’t have to figure out how to use a payment gateway.

MyBroadband recently spoke to ParcelNinja CEO Justin Drennan to find out how you should go about launching an online business with all of the modern tools available on the Internet.

He provided the following tips:

  1. Get your products listed on Google Shopping.
  2. List your products on PriceCheck.
  3. Use the third-party marketplaces offered by Takealot and Makro. Loot has also recently launched a marketplace.
  4. You can also sell your products on bidorbuy.
  5. Ship products out of your kitchen. Don’t be afraid to start small.

Putting your eggs in someone else’s basket

There is a significant drawback to relying on social media platforms for your online presence and third-party marketplaces to sell your wares – the fate of your business is completely in someone else’s hands.

It is therefore advisable to build your own online presence as your business grows. This includes registering a suitable domain name and building your own website.

Drennan recommended Shopify as a starting point for building an ecommerce website. Once your business has outgrown using your kitchen as a warehouse, Drennan said that you can upgrade to ParcelNinja for a logistics partner.

If you would like to build your own website, you will need a payment gateway. For this Drennan suggested Ozow, which he said offers real-time electronic fund transfers (EFT) as well as credit card payments.

There are also many other payment gateway options available in South Africa including PayGate, PayFast, and PayU.

No time like the present

While South Africa is in the midst of an economic downturn, and despite the chilling effect that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have had on the economy, venture capitalist and motivational speaker Vusi Thembekwayo believes it is a great time to build a business in South Africa.

Considering that South Africa remains in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, an online business that limits physical contact and is able to sell to people who prefer to remain at home is a good option.

Launching any business is not easy, but offering products for sale online in South Africa is easier than ever before.

Now read: Big increase in online shopping due to COVID-19

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