2017, and Black Friday, in particular, proved online shopping is alive and well, albeit a little ill-prepared, or possibly naive. However, for now, at least, the truth remains that the status of e-commerce sits at around 1 to 2% of total retail.
At the same time, retail sales in South Africa is inching along pitifully, growing marginally by 0.2% in September, compared with the same month last year, although economists had predicted a growth of over 2.5%. Very much a rock and a hard place.
“Black Friday was a great success for SA e-tailers, and for consumers, and we’re delighted by that dawning. But with the economy putting pressure on retail, it’s imperative that local brands innovate around their model and distribution,” explains Grant Webster, the COO of nationwide smart device repair specialist, weFix.
Yuppie Chef, an interesting case in point, is testing an additional channel, making a bold step from online to bricks and mortar in this last quarter opening a store at Cape Town’s Willowbridge Mall in August. That’s thinking out of the box.
Originally praised for its dorm room beginnings, the weFix brand has intensely focused itself on partnerships for the last year and a half, contouring their infrastructure to craft a model that allows for scalability across devices, brands and technology. “Originally working with Apple Devices, we added Samsung and then LG and Huawei to our suite of products that we repair. Having repaired over 750 000 devices in 35 stores nationwide, through 150 technicians, we shifted from a repair shop to a lab with technicians, supported by a robust framework to manage large trade volume for global brands.”
Under the leadership of Simon van der Merwe, weFix’s Chief Business Development Officer, this evolution paved the way to open up to more brands, including Yoco, the small wireless-card machines that seem ubiquitous at stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and small businesses, as well as the servicing of all the newly launched Energizer units, and FNB smart devices nationwide, the first local financial services company to launch its own branded Android-powered smartphones, designed by Chinese phone maker ZTE.
Within the insurance industry, weFix manage claims for the majority of insurance companies, including Discovery, MonitorKZN, and Santam, while breaking new ground with Click2Sure Insurance, who have launched a new uncomplicated digitally-led insurance product at point of sale. weFix was also the recipient of the Top Contents Repair Specialist from Discovery Insure for 2017.
2016 saw the introduction of global drone leader, DJI, both in sales and repairs and gaining weFix repair accreditation – certifying their first authorised DJI repair technicians, making a bold play for the booming drone market. This continued their extension from consumers to B2B to trade business via a new wholesale division which distributes and sells via Takealot, JD Group (Incredible Connection, Hifi Corp), Kaap Agri, Cape Union Mart, and Massmart (Dion Wired and Makro).
“It’s more than just inking an agreement, it’s about collaborating with attentive buyers, meeting their needs and training their team, so that stock is available as best possible and the teams are integrated,” says Webster. “Corporates requiring a tailor-made pickup and drop-off service in a bid to save time, and as a staff perk, can get devices fixed in rapid turnaround times, managed from end-to-end, by relationship managers and offering corporate accounts. For large retailers, we literally repair thousands of devices per year.”
The most exciting part of the weFix journey is that they needed to get the infrastructure right first to hold the capacity for more brands across all stores. That means understanding the brands, training our technicians, buying parts in for the stores, having dedicated workshops in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. weFix are now able to onboard new brands into a robust environment that global brands can depend on. Webster concludes, “It makes absolute sense to outsource your warranty repairs to the leader in the industry. Our track record is the best endorsement we have. It’s just the beginning for us, it’s a new horizon for our business.”