Planning for online | Melissa Rowlston

Hi, my name is Melissa Rowlston. And I run an E-commerce design and development agency called Maverick Web. I'm going to chat to you today about the ABCs to getting online. I think Andrew summed up my mixed emotions earlier talking about living through these crazy times which we find ourselves in. But I particularly feel rather blessed to be involved in the online industry, particularly e-commerce, which I live and breathe.

Having said that, I've been saying for years that e-commerce is the way of the future, and every year it goes bigger and bigger and bigger. However, we are currently on the precipice of massive change. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, and I believe this will accelerate online growth. Before COVID, the South African online retail market share was estimated at 1.4% of the 1 trillion Rand general retail market. To put this in perspective, the UK online market accounted for 18% of its total retail market, South Africa is tiny, we are truly in our infancy, we have so far to grow. Online shoppers make up only 55% of all web users in South Africa. Annual online growth in South Africa before COVID was predicted to be 50% this year, imagine what things are going to be like now.

Having said that, I'm sure that is why you're all here now. You want to get your shops online. And this is something that I'm deeply committed to, and have been for the past nine years that I've been in this industry. I have seen ebbs and flows. I have seen some of my clients soar to levels of unprecedented growth. And I have seen others never get off the starting blocks. But there is no going back. Ecommerce is here to stay and your business needs to survive, and South Africans need to adopt it to thrive. So I'm going to talk to you about going online. Because that's what my team and I do. We build new businesses in virtual locations. We build small shops for small businesses who have nothing yet and just want to go online. We build shops for small businesses with one brick and mortar store. We build shops for medium businesses with multiple stores in multiple retail outlets. We also built large stores for large wholesalers who need to get to their distributors, as well as to the man on the street. You name it, we build it. This tiny industry is huge. It is a bonding opportunity. So how do we do it? Every business is different. Every customer is different. And every client is different. There is no one size fits all model.

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