There’s never been a better time to launch an online store

According to Dr Alistair Mokoena, Country Director of Google South Africa, one of the key features of the COVID-19 pandemic is the migration of consumers from traditional to digital platforms.

“We’ve seen massive growth in search activity on the Internet, as well as a spike in the monetary value of online transactions,” he says. “This migration has played into the hands of online and omnichannel businesses. Those that do not have an online presence and those that have not invested in ecommerce capabilities have been found wanting, and their business models are under threat. More and more organisations are starting to accelerate the execution of their digital transformation strategies. For this reason, the time to launch an ecommerce business is now.”

One of the platforms supporting the launch and growth of ecommerce businesses in South Africa is, which will be hosting the inaugural Ecommerce Challenge on 30 June 2021.

For one day only, 50 speakers will unpack the ins and outs of ecommerce, sharing their lessons, insights and how to navigate online retail in the South African environment.

“Ecommerce is still in its infancy stage, which makes this sector a great playground for entrepreneurs to succeed,” says Daniel Guasco from Click2Sure. “In the past, business owners needed to sign a lease, build a shop, take a risk. Today, you’re still taking a risk but in the ecommerce environment, it’s just much easier to go to market.”

It’s time to capitalise on online retail growth

According to Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx, by 2023, online retail in South Africa will pass 5% of total retail. “This might seem like a small percentage, but it is massive in terms of growth,” he says. “Just ask any physical retailer what a 5% drop in their turnover would mean for the health of a business. It represents nothing less than a dramatic shift in the nature of South African retail.”

In fact, World Wide Worx’s new Online Retail in SA 2021 study shows 66% growth last year, and an expectation of around 40% this year, dropping to 30% next year. Coming off an increasingly high base, these numbers represent similar growth in absolute rand terms, indicating a market growing by more than R10-billion a year.

For brands and business owners already in the online space, Ecommerce Challenge is an excellent opportunity to learn from other sector experts who have experienced successes and failures specific to the ecommerce industry.

“There are not too many opportunities like this available in South Africa, so this one is definitely not to be missed,” says Guasco.

Michelle du Plessis, founder of Macaroon Collection and another speaker on the day, agrees. “A mentor of mine recently said to me that we learn together. I found that to be such an impactful statement. When we share and collaborate with each other, we create a community around us, which not only teaches us but can serve as sounding boards when we have ideas for our business.”

Top local speakers plus a chance to win R50 000 in prizes

Designed as a 100% online experience, Ecommerce Challenge will include a range of talks and masterclasses on topics like starting an online business, developing a strategy, understanding the market and navigating failure. Dr Mokoena, Goldstuck, Guasco and du Plessis are just some of the speakers on the day, highlighting the calibre of local experts who are lending their skill and experience to helping ecommerce entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

There will also be a pitching competition in which business owners can pitch their businesses (and business ideas) to local experts and stand a chance to win their share of R50 000 in prizes.

“A great ecommerce business is one that creates an experience that you cannot get in a physical context,” says Allon Raiz, founder and CEO of Raizcorp, and one of the judges on the day. “Ease of selection, additional information before your purchase, ease of payment, a no questions asked refund policy, speed to deliver, availability of stock, and frictionless checkout are just a few of the factors making a great ecommerce business. However, as always, ideas are cheap, and execution is everything. I want to understand if the entrepreneurial team can deliver the dream,” he says.

“In many parts of the world ecommerce is an important part of the economic and, more specifically, retail activity. Whilst it’s still a fairly emerging market in South Africa, we believe it is and will continue to play an important role in the economy,” says Hilton Eachus, Chief Customer Officer at DPD Laser Express Logistics, one of the sponsors of the pitching competition.

To find out more about Ecommerce Challenge, the pitching competition, or to register for talks, visit
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