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5 Major struggles that SA Ecommerce Business owners face
More brands are promoting their products and services online since the emergence of that global pandemic (which we’re all over talking about) forced the world indoors. 

Business operations went from mostly offline to online-only in a matter of months and it’s completely changed buying behaviour as well. 

More customers already know what they’re searching for before placing an order and one can compare competitor prices and quality within a few taps via mobile online stores. 

The selectivity of consumer behaviour now ensures that business owners selling niche products will always make sales while those with great products but no online presence may have to close down. 

The state of eCommerce in SA

Did you know that South Africa’s online retail sales grew by 40% during lockdown? According to marketing researchers, World Wide Worx, year-on-year eCommerce growth is expected to reach 100% yet South Africa’s retail trade is still below 2% of online retail in the world. eCommerceDB reported that the total revenue growth for the top five online stores in the country in 2020 was no less than US$ 10 million – the first of which was, followed by,,, and US retailer, So, clearly, eCommerce in SA has the potential to thrive but many companies within the country are still missing the mark.

As performance marketers who specialise in cultivating brand affinity online, we’re experts at spotting brand limitations and finding measurable solutions. Beyond our extensive data collection, we also engage in private networks such as the country’s biggest invite-only eCommerce community, Insaka, which was created by serial entrepreneur, Warrick Kernes. Business owners in the group share ideas, concerns, and exchange products and services to help each other grow. Some of the most popular topics discussed in the group evidently outline the major reasons why many eCommerce companies in SA are not growing as quickly. 

Here is a look at the most discussed topics in a group of over 22 thousand entrepreneurs: 

Unreliable courier services

Courier service is to eCommerce as a shop assistant is to retail. Even though couriers are mostly outsourced, it plays a big role in the consumer’s experience with your brand so when products are damaged, not delivered on time, or lacks a tracking system that updates the customer on the delivery process, all of these factors reflect on the brand selling the product rather than the delivery company. 

Courier services in South Africa can also be expensive and are limited to certain parts of the country, which often leaves entrepreneurs perplexed about whether to add shipping costs to the invoice or to carry the cost as a business expense.


A recent survey involving 220 IT decision-makers from various companies within South Africa, found that over 40% of businesses won’t know that their security has been breached until hours later, and that outdated software is one of the major shortcomings in cyber preparedness. IT talent to assist with software is also hard to come by, which often results in delays to provide an efficient user experience.

Problematic payment methods 

Isn’t it just the worst when you find a product that you love but once you get to the payment gateway, none of the available payment options accommodates you? It’s the equivalent of standing in a queue within a store and finding that the cashier will be heading to lunch before attending to you – pretty disappointing.

Shopping mall culture 

In some parts of the country, South Africans are just getting used to the concept of a shopping mall. Centre managers have done a great job of converting malls into hubs where people don’t just shop but eat, play, and catch-up with each other for hours. While online shopping is rapidly growing, many South Africans don’t have access to adequate resources that would allow them to frequently shop online and have their products delivered to their door.

Questionable brand presence 

Let’s be frank – a website with bad copy and poor-quality images will have a hard time gaining credibility online unless it’s owners have a strong enough offline presence that doesn’t require any web interaction at all. Your website and social media pages become your shop window and the way that you present your products online is what will be the defining factor for potential buyers. 

At the end of the day, you can sell air to an interested buyer if it’s marketed well. If you aren’t sure of where to start, reach out to us for a web audit and strategy to ensure that you gain positive brand awareness. 

Head to our contact page to book a consultation with us today.

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