Covid-19 might have put the brakes on many industries, but one sector showing exponential growth is the world of ecommerce. This is where SMMEs can play a leading role.
Opportunities are everywhere. Not only for those already in this sector, but especially for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to join this fast-growing industry. Ecommerce enables SMMEs to launch their businesses, create jobs, and grow existing operations.
“2021 is the year when ecommerce companies will solidify their place within the marketplace, and yes, there is space for new players,” says Warrick Kernes, CEO of Insaka eCommerce Academy, and board member at the eCommerce Forum of Africa. “During this time, you will also see online brands that have several years in the ecommerce space stepping up and become leading brands within the marketplace as a whole and not just within their online community.”
In its first eCommerce Performance Index 2020 report, the online payment solution company Payfast claimed that Covid-19 had accelerated local ecommerce adoption by between three and five years. It also noted that 45% of merchants who were negatively affected by the pandemic could cater to changing customer requirements by adapting their operating models and incorporating ecommerce more effectively.
The Index shows that the fastest-growing group of online shoppers is between the ages of 18 and 24, with a 100% increase in traffic. Those aged 25 to 34 continue to be the largest group of online shoppers and are most likely to shop online using their smartphones.
Kernes advises entrepreneurs and SMMEs to start or align their business with ecommerce not only to keep their fingers on the pulse, but also to stay ahead of the race.
Is it too late to enter the ecommerce space? Not at all, he says.
“My best advice, which is echoed by many people within the industry, is to simply get started. Expect a learning curve, steeper for some, however, the benefits outweigh the risks as you can launch your business without a huge capital outlay.”
Insaka eCommerce Academy mitigates and guides SMME’s to overcome and conquer perceived barriers to entry, such as needing large start-up capital, warehousing, sourcing products and the programming knowledge and technology required for building an ecommerce site. Insaka eCommerce Academy has many online programmes, including a week’s free training. Entrepreneurs and SMMEs can learn how to open an online store in five steps, by registering the site, loading products, setting up a payment gateway, designing the homepage and taking the site live and ready for selling. Training is conducted online for half an hour a day, over five days.
“It pays to empower people,” says Kernes. “Once they embark on our ecommerce programme, we teach them the intricacies of how to develop their website reaching a new level of business management. We even have a list of pre-approved suppliers that can supply stock to the entrepreneur’s or SMME’s online store.
“One of our students is a 78-year-old grandmother based along the Midlands Meander in KwaZulu- Natal. Her business of selling artworks benefited from tourists visiting the area, but when lockdown started, she needed to generate income. She enrolled in the Insaka programme, created her online shop, and is now a wonderful success story. Despite not being a techie with coding experience, she now operates a viable online ecommerce site. This is a testament to the ease of entering the ecommerce sector.”