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

Do I Need A Website?

Why have a website? Well, it’s been said that in today’s market, if you do not have a website you are invisible.

Today, this is definitely true for most businesses, if not the guy selling shades at the traffic lights. The most important thing to consider, is that if your competitors have a website they are most definitely one up on you in terms of marketing themselves and attracting your potential customers their way.

These days, people are less interested in interruption marketing such as television and radio where messages are forced on them. There are now so many ways they can choose to tune these messages out, such as PVR systems. The best example however is the Internet. People can easily look for what they want and choose who to engage with, and who not too.

Buyers can easily search for products online, specifying exactly what it is they are looking for. They are even able to compare products from the comfort of their home. Customers have a choice whether to click on advertising that interests them and they have a choice whether to browse a website they visit or to bounce off it and go elsewhere.

In this sense you have a matter of seconds to catch a person’s attention and sell them on your services.

Have a Helpful Website

Even Facebook has to ask you if you would like to download an application before you use it or not…you have to give permission to receive emails from potential marketers. As a business you have to be more inviting than ever, which means using inbound marketing, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and social media to your advantage.

The question isn’t “why have a website?” The bottom line is that you had better have a website and it had better be better than your competitors. The question is how to have a website that uses inbound marketing to attract your buyers?

Contact Simplah now and find out how to have a website that works for your business.

Convert Your Website Into A WordPress Content Management System

Break free of your webmaster

There are many ways to make administering your online presence easier. But if there is one endeavour worth considering more than any other it’s running your website with a content management system (CMS).

In fact installing a good CMS could be the best decision you ever make for your Web marketing.

The days of having to employ someone to make even the simplest content changes to your website are thankfully over. With software like WordPress available, the power to manage your own website content is back in your hands.

The benefits to a CMS are many, but well worth noting are:

  1. You can save a lot of money on web developer’s fees with a CMS. Where an hourly rate was once charged to make the tiniest of changes, you can now make those changes in your own time with no back and forth between outsourced parties and no extra cost to you.
  2. Emergency changes can be addressed immediately and you don’t need to rely on someone else’s availability.
  3. The tendency to avoid updating your website is not as much of a risk with a CMS, which means you’re more likely to maintain fresh content for your audience. This is good both for your readership and for boosting your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Nothing says, “I don’t care about my brand” like stale content.

Which CMS is Best?

There are many CMS systems available. The most popular in South Africa are still Drupel, Joomla and WordPress, but there is also a variety of .asp driven tools. Although there are pros and cons to all, my CMS of choice is WordPress. There are a million reasons for this but here are the main points:

  1. WordPress is free open source software that is constantly being updated by a world of dedicated .php programmers. These enthusiasts work for nothing and all share a passion for keeping the software up to date, bug free and security tight. So all the work is done for you. For free.
  2. It really is easy to use WordPress, with a nice friendly interface. Whatever system you choose you’ll need to make friends with your CMS so learning to use it needs to be a pleasant experience. There are numerous support forums available should you ever run into trouble and you can even install a plugin that provides your own personal and certified WordPress help facility.
  3. Because it was originally developed as a blogging platform WordPress offers a ridiculously easy way to start blogging from your website, should you decide to enhance your online marketing with a blog.

Break free of your Webmaster!

Of course, there are technical aspects of your website you should leave to the experts. But when it comes to content changes, I say take the control back. After all, it’s the content you’ll probably want to make changes to most anyway.

So how do you transform your website into a lean mean CMS driven machine?

Contact me for an explanation of how Simplah helps you keep the look, feel and structure of your website exactly as it is, but built on a WordPress platform so you can make your own content updates.