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E-commerce: the basics

Since lockdown levels were implemented and people were limited to where they could shop, e-commerce has boomed and this is one trend that is here to stay according to Global WebIndex’s trend report. But how can you adopt e-commerce efficiently and sustainably? Here are five basic questions to consider before joining the e-commerce bandwagon.

1. What product will you sell online?

When thinking about launching into e-commerce you need to analyse the product which you want to offer online. Here are three questions to consider:

  • Do you need to see your customer face-to-face to make the sale? Some products rely on demonstrations of the product before a sale can happen. Especially high-end specialty products may require face-to-face interaction to negotiate the right deal with your customer.
  • How important is it to secure your intellectual property? When launching your product or service online, there is a global audience who have access to your product or service. If it is a unique idea, it is important to contact an intellectual property lawyer and ascertain what you need to protect your IP.
  • How shippable is your product? When considering your product you need to know how you will be able to deliver it to your customer without it incurring any damage. You also need to consider the weight and bulkiness of the product as this may influence the cost of delivering the product.

 After you have considered these questions, you will be better equipped to know how to sell your product online.

2. Which platform will you use to sell your product?

There are three types of platforms where you can sell your product.

  • Your website: You could integrate a store into your website and you will have complete control over how your products are promoted and who you use to deliver your product. The initial setup will be expensive as you may need to employ someone to design your e-commerce website.
  • Marketplaces: This platform has already got the systems in place for capturing orders and delivering them to your customers. They charge a fee for the services they offer you. Some popular general marketplaces are Takealot, Makro or Loot. When choosing a marketplace, you should ensure that they service your niche customers. You could also look for niche marketplaces for your products.
  • Social media platforms: Facebook and Instagram offer commerce accounts where you can sell your product online through these platforms.

It’s critical to know the online buying habits of your customer and where they feel the most comfortable when it comes to purchasing products or services online.

3. How will you store and deliver your product?

When you start, you may be able to store the product at home and package and deliver them from your house but as you grow you may need to use a third-party logistics (3PL) company to do your warehousing and product delivery. When you research which 3PL company to use, you should ensure that they are reliable and will take care of your product. UAfrica is another platform that helps to ease the process of order fulfilment and delivery.

4. Is your payment process simple?

You need to ensure your payment process is easy and accurate. You shouldn’t have any hidden costs which the buyer will only encounter when they come to pay the invoice. In addition, make sure you only collect information from your customer which is necessary to make the sale. Payfast offers various integrations which makes it easy for your customer to pay you.

5. Where will you market your product or service?

Now you need to market your product. With e-commerce growing rapidly, your competitors are only a click away. You should ensure your SEO is great on your website so that you can rank on the first page of Google. Another avenue to consider is to have influencers do live streams of using your product. You should also consider using social media ads and joining groups where people who use your product are present, and who you can promote to on these platforms.

By working through these five questions, you will be well on your way to building your e-commerce empire.

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