For many businesses, selling online can still be a daunting exercise. But, it is not an impossible task and, with the Covid-19 pandemic having forced many business globally to revisit how they do business, it is worth the time and energy to figure out how to expand your business to online, writes Kojo Baffoe.
Beyond the technical aspects of selling online, one also has to:
- Decide on which products or services to put online;
- Decide on the e-commerce platform to use and whether it makes sense to create one’s own platform;
- Develop an online marketing strategy;
- Monitor sales using data to ensure that what is being sold is what is wanted in the market
Below are some of the platforms and resources available, in no particular order or ranking, for you as a businessperson. It’s also not an exhaustive list
Owned by Naspers, Takealot carries a broad range of products including Automotive & DIY, Beauty, Books & Courses, Camping & Outdoor, Fashion & Luggage, Health & Hygiene, Toys, Home & Appliances and Sport & Training. To become an online seller, they have a simple process listed on their Sell on Takealot page. Once your application is approved, they guide you through the systems and provide you with reports to help with sales analysis. Takealot charges a monthly subscription fee, currently R300 excluding VAT, as well as varying success fees as a percentage of VAT inclusive products sold. They detail the shipping fees according to size and weight of the product, and storage fees, if you store your products at their warehouse. You can also “opt to sell on lead-time and only deliver the number of products ordered to avoid being charged.”
The Independent Media owned Loot also lists products under a full range of categories like Computers, Electronics, Toys, Baby, Kitchen, Music and Books. Apply through their Loot Marketplace page. If eligible, you are given a Seller Account through which you load your products onto the Loot Marketplace Catalogue and start selling. Fulfilment by Loot ensures that your product is delivered when sold and Loot pays you twice a month for products sold. They do not detail costs for being a seller.
With bidorbuy, you can either sell online traditionally or have your products auctioned, where buyers can propose how much they are willing to pay, hence the name of the site. They have two categories of sellers, Basic and Advanced, with the primary difference being when you are billed for success fees. For Basic, it is on sale and for Advanced, it is at the end of the month. Also, Basic sellers do not need to provide bank account or credit card details to register. Their success fees range from just over 2% up to about 10% depending on the product category, with bigger ticket items having a lower fee. There are also fees for classified listings. You can register here.
Headquarted in Lagos, Nigeria, with a presence in over 10 countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Senegal and Uganda, Jumia gives you a stronger continental reach than most other platforms. To register on Jumia Marketplace, visit the Seller Centre. Once accepted, it is a matter of uploading your products (and Jumia doing a quality check) and you are good to go. You do need to list a minimum of 10 products. Payment for sales is made 30 days from date of invoice and Jumia makes its money from commission based on selling price and delivery fee. When there is an order, you ship to their warehouse and they package and delivery to the customer. Zando, which focuses on fashion and related accessories, is part of the Jumia group and you can also register on there to sell at Zando Seller Registration.
Gumtree for Business allows you to use the classified ads marketplace to push your products and/or services. Benefits that the regular seller doesn’t have includes a personal dashboard, access to a Customer Service Success Team, and ads that never expire. You can advertise cars, parts, boats, property, general goods and even jobs.
In addition to their extensive store network, Makro has developed their online Makro Marketplace as a platform for the sale of products beyond what they source and supply. Registration is straightforward online and their Seller Portal allows you to keep track of performance and sales, should you be approved to sell. You hold your inventory which you pack and they arrange for delivery when orders come through. They take commission on items sold and delivery fee, which depend on item, weight, etc. They do have two selling plans, the Basic, which is for if you expect to sell less than 40 items a month, and the Professional which has a monthly subscription fee, in addition to selling fees.
Both Facebook Marketplace and Olx are platforms where you can run classified ads for products that you are selling. Olx includes property for sale and for rent, various services such as construction, music lessons and tree felling, and even businesses available for sale. They don’t provide specific features for businesses.
There are also a growing number of marketplaces, including:
- The Marketplace Shop, which positions itself as an online ‘craft shop’ for South African designers, artisans and crafters producing food, teas, unique gifts, skin care products and the like.
- Hello Pretty, which is also a marketplace for ‘cool stuff from independent South African creatives’.
- Fruugo, is a UK headquartered platform with a presence in South Africa, in addition to another 30 plus countries.
- Vuuqa, was started by a Kenyan and a South African and positions itself as a platform for small African brands and businesses to promote and sell their products.
The landscape is growing increasingly competitive and the expansion into online sales requires as much energy as you have put into your physical business, but the opportunities are there.