Top 5 ways to sell online in South Africa

As technology, store-to-door couriers and internet access improves, it's getting easier to sell products and services online in South Africa. But you don’t have to be a big-name company or have lots of money to get started.

Depending on the kind of product or service you’re looking to sell, there are several ways to selling online - but first, ask yourself: How much stock do you have? Are you open to paying sale fees? Do you intend to grow this business, or is it a short-term venture - because you’ll need to know the answers before picking an approach that’s right for you?

Top 5 ways to sell online

Having a good idea of your business objectives and goals means that you know what you want to achieve. So, once-off sales platforms are not ideal for those looking to develop and grow a brand, products, and customer base.

Each platform has pros and cons. So, it’s up to you to decide which option is best suited for your product, time management, ability, and overall business goals.

1. Create your own website

Whether you’re making your own products at home, selling a service, or reselling goods you’ve found elsewhere, setting up a website is probably the best way to get your business out into the world.

Shopify is an all-in-one commerce platform for all your business needs to start, sell, market, and manage your business.

  • Start – Build your brand and your website
  • Sell – Showcase your products across social channels and online marketplaces
  • Market – Email marketing, Facebook Ads and SEO marketing automation tools.
  • Manage – Collect orders, process payments, and manage shipping.

The benefits of having your own website include:

  • Establishing your own brand presence.
  • Being in control of all aspects, including how your products are marketed.
  • Having access to the backend and analytics of your website to see your growth.

There are additional costs to having your own website, such as domain fees and a small percentage of sales costs. However, paying these costs does grants you total control of your business - making it the option for ecommerce business owners who want to grow and develop their brand.

2. Social media

If you have a small number of products or you’re looking to sell on an ad-hoc basis, social media might be the option for you.

Platforms like Facebook offer built-in features like Marketplace, allowing you to sell directly to customers. If you’re planning on selling more than one product or want to establish a brand, starting a group or business page gives you the freedom to do so and allows you to do paid advertising.

If you already have a social media store, consider Shopify Lite. This plan is best for entrepreneurs who have an existing Facebook or Instagram business page or website as it seamlessly integrates Buy Buttons that redirect to a checkout page. You won’t have all the features of a Basic Plan but you’ll have access to a dashboard to monitor performance, finance trackers and abandoned cart recovery details.

3. Takealot is one of South Africa’s favourite online shopping marketplaces, from stationery to gym equipment and everything in between.

But it’s not just reserved for famous brands: any product owner can sell on the platform.
The site has millions of subscribers, which is to your benefit, but it does come at a price.

Sellers on Takealot can expect to pay:

  • A monthly subscription fee.
  • Referral fees and transactional costs.
  • Storage fees (if applicable to your product).

Takealot is ideal for businesses that have enough existing stock to sell. However, you’ll be competing against every other brand on the website that falls within your category, so keep that in mind.

4. Classifieds

For once-off sales or services, classifieds platforms like Gumtree or OLX are free and ideal. In most cases, you’ll only need an email address to post something for sale.

However, as there is no verification process, safety is a concern. So, it's best to limit your use of these sites to only selling products that you can courier instead of completing the sale in person.

5. bidorbuy

It's no secret that South Africans love a good deal. bidorbuy is an ecommerce site that allows buyers to make an offer, join an auction, or simply buy a product at the listed price.

Sellers register on the site and have their own profiles. This is for verification purposes and for buyers to see their legitimacy, leave comments, and report if necessary.

The site acts as a 'middleman', taking a small percentage of all sales and enabling:

  • A platform of communication between buyer and seller.
  • Access to their large number of users.

This platform and others like it are an excellent way to resell items. However, establishing your own personal brand presence is difficult as the competition is fierce and ever-changing.

Turn your passion into a money-making business

Becoming a business owner allows you to take charge of your time - and selling online makes it even easier. With internet access and drop-off courier services, it’s not hard to get your product out there.

Whether you’re from Pacaltsdorp or Gauteng, anyone can run their own business, all you must do is start.

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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