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Business in a digital economy: Love Jacaranda

Mike Anderson (NSBC founder & CEO) and Christina Close (Love Jacaranda co-founder) discuss how to build a business during the boom of the digital economy and how to continue to make it successful.

Christine Close worked in the corporate environment until September 2021 when she decided to focus solely on the side hustle she had started with her partner in May 2019. She has 20 years of experience in business transformation.

The business was started because Christine and her business partner, Natalie, wanted a business with a passive component. This lead them to e-commerce, where the business would run over weekends and during school runs with very little intervention from their side. One day during a visit to Christine’s family’s factory that made blankets, she realised she had a good product for their online store. They bought a few blankets and sold them to family and friends and this helped them to validity the market for their blankets. They had a basic knowledge about e-commerce but through networking, and researching online they set up the e-commerce store.

When it comes to creating an e-commerce store, first and foremost, they needed a product that people wanted to buy. Without the product, there would be no need for a store. Next, they needed to create a website and buy the domain name for their business. Then they moved to social sites and they looked at having Facebook and Instagram pages. They had the luxury of growing slowly and reinvesting into their business as the money came in.

The biggest challenge was learning how to bring the right traffic to the website. If you launch a website, it doesn’t mean that people will find you automatically. The next challenge was convincing people to buy online. It is important to set up your website so that it is enticing, intuitive, easy to navigate and able to answer all the questions someone might have when they visit your site. Fine-tuning a website is an ongoing process. You should also look at what established websites in your industry are doing and try to adopt some of the things you like onto your site.

They overcome their challenges by networking and speaking to people in their local circle. They also looked at YouTube videos and joined business Facebook groups in their niche to help with the challenges they faced.

Even though under level 5 lockdown, they were unable to sell our products, but on level 4 lockdown, throws and blankets became an essential service. This was because South Africa was going into winter and then they had the benefit of Mother’s day. Their website was overwhelmed with orders and they have been riding the wave of consistent online sales.

One major lesson which totally surprised them was the number of photographs they needed to sell their product online. People buy with their eyes and they need to see the product in context as well as close-up to see the texture of the product.

If you are considering starting a venture, but are nervous then here are a few tips:

  1. Have marketable product or service: You need to have a product or service that someone wants to buy. This is essential. You can build a website at a low cost but if the product or service isn’t in demand then you will not succeed.
  2.  Be open-minded: You may spend many hours creating your website but if it is not converting, you need to be able to take critical and objective feedback to help you change the website to make it work.
  3. Know who you are selling to: You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. So make sure you have a clear idea of who your clients are and who you don’t sell to.
  4. Creating a workflow doesn’t guarantee sales: You need to create a workflow but also be aware that there are more elements in the process that needs to be in place for your website to convert leads to sales.
  5. Give it a bash: Every day as a business owner you learn how to operate your business. Therefore go out there and give your business idea a go.

Love Jacaranda uses VodaPay to help them gain trust and to have access to a new and extensive customer base through a trusted corporate brand, Vodacom.

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