It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic caught many companies off guard. The accelerated move into digital ways of working, has meant that over the past year, many business owners have been scrambling to launch E-Commerce divisions or businesses.
For example, according to World Wide Worx’ Online Retail in South Africa 2021 report, online retail in South Africa during 2020 reached R30,2-billion, 50% higher than the forecast of R20-billion predicted in 2018.
To support South African SMEs and growing businesses in their online endeavors, Sasfin has partnered with Denis Kampel, CEO of Gather, an online eventing business that has developed OnlineX to deliver tailored webinar series.
We chatted to Denis to understand more about the E-Commerce landscape, and why it’s a great time to cash in on the E-Commerce wave.
Q:Should businesses be considering including E-Commerce offerings in their revenue streams?
There has never been a better time to launch an E-Commerce offering. The current crisis has accelerated the growth of the E-Commerce market, and many companies with a strong online presence have absolutely thrived over this period.
Q:What opportunities exist in this space for entrepreneurs who don’t have large financial resources to tap into?
Setting up an E-Commerce business does not need to be an expensive exercise. When we consider that there are no long-term shop rentals or all the associated costs that go with traditional retail, online becomes very attractive, especially because consumers have become increasingly comfortable with digital channels. In fact, the setup costs are relatively inexpensive and can be scaled as the business grows. There are also many digital platforms and apps that make the online setup painless.
Q:What top advice would you offer E-Commerce entrepreneurs?
It is critical that an E-Commerce entrepreneur do the necessary due diligence with proper and thorough planning. It is also advisable to consult with experts who can help get them started and going in the right direction. If done correctly, an E-Commerce or online business could be a very low risk and high reward investment.
Q:Should ‘traditional’ businesses also be considering an E-Commerce route?
Absolutely! Over the years, there have been many huge businesses that failed to take their businesses online and they have paid the price. Covid-19 has shown that those companies that neglected to build an online presence have really suffered, whereas businesses that were geared to transact digitally have thrived.
Does that mean that traditional ‘brick and mortar’ businesses are going to die? I don’t think so. But one thing is clear – those companies that have a strong online presence will definitely have reduced risks, will be positioned to capitalise on higher revenue opportunities, and will ultimately have a strong competitive advantage over their rivals.
Q:Why is upskilling so important in this space?
Moving into the digital world brings new and exciting opportunities, but it also comes with a new set of challenges that require different skills and a wider breadth of knowledge around digital strategies.
While there are many knowledge experts in this space to consult with, it would be prudent for any professional entering this space to really upskill and learn about what makes an online business tick.
As Warren Buffett once famously said: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”
I think that the pandemic has demonstrated that without a solid online or E-Commerce strategy, many businesses have recently been found ‘swimming naked.’
Sign up for the E-Commerce Bootcamp today, at no cost!
The E-Commerce Bootcamp from OnlineX has been designed to give SMEs everything they need to know to survive and thrive online.
Delivered over 6 weeks with one interactive 60-minute webinar per week, the series is made up of 6 modules and launched on 28 July:
Planning: How to formulate and execute a winning online plan
Building: Tips & tools to build a world-class online presence
Marketing: How to drive volumes of the right traffic to your website
Selling: How to convert leads into paying customers
Delivering: How to deliver on time and within budget to a happy customer
Measuring: How to measure and fine tune online strategies to improve performance & ROI