South African ecommerce opportunities

Online shops are an excellent, low-cost way to get your products to the public. Without needing to rent a space or hire employees, less overheads improves your chances of your business being a success.

So, why not take advantage and open your own online shop?

Benefits of owning an online shop

Selling products or services online is simpler than you think. With store-to-door couriers like Aramex making private delivery services accessible and internet lines speeding up, you can set up and run your own business and enjoy benefits like:

  • Working from anywhere, no transport necessary.
  • Growing your business at your own pace.
  • No shop or office rent to pay.
  • Having more free time.

The most important aspect is that you don’t need a lot of money to start — all you need is an idea.

Shopify is an all-in-one commerce platform that makes starting your business journey easy. Easy-to-set-up templates and even a business name generator. Shopify provides all the tools you need to get your journey going.

So, if you’re starting from scratch, consider these opportunities for your business.


You can’t teach fashion and style, but you can sure sell it. Apparel is one of the leading categories for ecommerce in South Africa. There are several areas of this that you can explore, like:

  1. Selling custom printed items.
  2. Making your own clothing to order.
  3. Activity specific clothing.
  4. Reselling new or used clothing.

As you’ll be competing with other big retail brands like Mr Price, it's crucial to find a niche market and tailor your products to that.

Trash Panda is a local custom print shop that puts funny, witty, and rude designs onto t-shirts, hoodies, and other clothing. From Afrikaans slang to references to lyrics to well-known songs, it's an eclectic blend of creativity and appealing to a specific target market.

Home and Garden

In South Africa, no matter where we’re from, we take pride in our homes.

From the braai to the bedroom, this category can be quite broad, making it even easier to segment. There are several areas to branch into for your business, such as:

  • Importing – Finding an international supplier for décor, appliances, or furniture does require having access to storage space but allows you to stock a variety of unique pieces.
  • Customised – If you or someone you know can craft furniture to order, you can sell the handcrafted products online or custom-built furniture as a service.
  • Décor – From art and mirrors to printed bedding, decorations for the home can be spread across the home and garden spectrum.

Customise your home and garden website to include simple DIY guides and links to products they can buy from you.

Beauty and Fitness

Are you a beautician, stylist, or personal trainer?

Lock down brought a massive rise in at-home workouts, fitness, and DIY beauty regimes.

Gyms, personal trainers, and fitness influencers alike offered online classes and set-out programmes to purchase to help subscribers stay fit and healthy during lock down.

The first three levels of lockdown had a negative impact on the beauty industry and its customers. Without salons, businesses began offering their products online, in conjunction with tutorials on how to use them.

Lulu & Marula has an online quiz that helps you choose what your skin type is. Your results are shown as products you can buy that would be best suited for your skin.


If people love something, they want to buy the right things for it, and the hobby industry is an excellent opportunity to target what people love.

To make running this business easy, it's important to choose a hobby that not only has different facets you can sell but also piques your interest. Knowing what your customers are looking for and talking about helps make the job easier and allows you to add value and position your business as a thought-leader.

Hobbies that you can monetise with accessories and gear include:

  • Outdoor Activities – Cycling, hiking, archery, rock climbing, canoeing, etc. These types of activities have their own followings and come with a lot of opportunities to sell gear.
  • Board games – From tutorials and how-to-play guides to review videos and selling games, this industry has potential and appeals to all ages.
  • Fitness – Products like heart rate monitors and equipment to clothing and accessories, fitness enthusiasts are always looking for the next best thing to add to their gear.
  • Sewing – Needles, crochet, wool, cotton, patterns, tutorials, the sewing industry has seen a boom since lockdown, and it's not stopping.


Fill your hobby website with tutorials, products, and content to help other enthusiasts learn and grow your follower base at the same time.

Start your journey today

Not ‘just now’ or even ‘now-now’ – the time is now, Mzansi.

For a monthly fee, you can start running your own online business from anywhere in the country: all you need is an idea, a device, and an internet connection.

Useful resources:
Shopify is a platform that gives anyone the tools to start, sell, market, and manage their business. Sign up to Shopify for a 14-day free trial. No credit card required.
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