Is South Africa an E-Commerce Rip-off?

With business owners still paying an average of R30 000 for an e-commerce website in South Africa doing business online is unnecessarily expensive for many. Not only that, more money is then required to pay someone to update the site whenever new products are ready to showcase.

This is why a CMS such as WordPress is ideal for an e-commerce website. Firstly you can easily update the site yourself, saving time and money. Secondly, expensive development can be avoided as all the clever stuff has already been coded. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, and e-commerce technology is pretty standard these days.

After all, your website is far more likely to be user-friendly if it’s simple. And a user-friendly website is key when it comes to running a successful e-commerce operation.

South African E-Commerce Potential

When the 2010 World Cup was looming most businesses were harnessing the wonderful buzz of entrepreneurship in the country at the time. People were showing off their skills and producing locally made products en-mass. It was a good time to be South African.

Back then, I spent a year with Simplah, researching and testing out various forms of e-commerce software, including both free and paid services. Comparisons were made until I finally identified a collection of services that proved to be the best, most cost-effective solutions for business.

The outcome as always was Keep It Simple. For South Africans to start playing amongst the likes of Amazon and eBay, we need to start small and learn to evolve. That means making it easy for people to use our services and grow slowly as demand increases.

6 Things to Remember When Planning a Successful E-Commerce Website

  • Always use trusted brand names when it comes to online payments such as Paypal, VCS or PayGate. South Africans are nervous submitting their credit card details online. EFT’s are the preferred method of payment. And why not? It’s a system that is easily set up if you know how.
  • As far as payment gateways go, (the company you use to transfer money between you, your buyer and the bank), PayPal is still the most recognized both locally and internationally. It’s also the most preferred for credit card transactions. I put my trust in VCS personally as it is local and the support is good.
  • ROI (Return On Investment) is relatively low on South African e-commerce websites but that number is currently growing exponentially as Web users increase. Those set to harness the power of online shopping now are sure to be laughing later.
  • Like any website SEO is very important to ensure the right buyers see your products. Also, running a Google Adwords campaign appealing to your specific target market can make a huge difference to your business success.
  • Have your system of product delivery worked out well before going live with your website. That way you are ready for your first batch of orders and the delivery process will be smooth and user friendly.
  • Have a FAQ section on your website to save yourself that flood of common enquiries that inevitably come through. Tests show that customers find FAQ sections to be of value. They are also less likely to leave your site if they get stuck if there is a helpful FAQ section on the site.

There are many ways to deliver a good e-commerce website and even more ways to grow it into a success over time. One thing’s for sure: South Africa’s rapidly growing population of Internet users will undoubtedly contribute to the e-commerce industry over the next few years. And that means big opportunities for entrepreneurs everywhere.

For help developing a simple yet professional e-commerce website contact Simplah on
+27 (0)84 407 9398 or