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Why now’s the time to launch your e-commerce business

I'm going to be talking to you about why there has never been a better time to launch an e-commerce business and specifically in South Africa. If there is a silver lining to this pandemic. It's got to be, for me, certainly, what's happened in the e-commerce space during this time. I'm actually sometimes a bit embarrassed when I speak to people and I see other businesses are struggling so much during these difficult times. It's been a crazy time with some really amazing growth. So much so that some people I've even said that this had acted as a catalyst and accelerated us 20 years forward. So where we are now in 2020 is where we might have only been in 2030 If it hadn't been for this pandemic.

So I thought I'd start by just maybe just having a look at South Africa versus the rest of the world. Just doing a bit of a comparison, I've worked in a number of other countries around the world. I've worked in the e-commerce space in Australia, in the US. I've been involved in Canada and Europe and the UK. In Asia as well as in India. In most of those markets, there was a period of time where e-commerce experienced some exponential growth, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the tipping points. Some of you might have heard about near the curve, or maybe just a hockey stick growth or an inflection point, wherever you call it, these e-commerce markets had this sort of exponential growth where ecommerce just grew over a period of time very quickly. As far as I can tell, in South Africa, we've never had that sort of growth, actually, perhaps up until now. But looking back, we've pretty much experienced linear growth, maybe between 20 and 40% growth, sort of fairly consistent, but of a relatively low base. And from as you may have imagined, going through the pandemic, now that this acting as a catalyst has really accelerated us. And now I think it's maybe a bit too early to tell. But I actually think now's the time for South Africa, where we are seeing this sort of exponential growth happening.

The latest sort of more official numbers that we have is that online retail accounted for. 14 billion rand in online retail in South Africa, that's out of the total retail markets of 1 trillion Rand. So if you worked it out as a percentage, it's about 1.4%. There's no doubt that we've experienced growth now, well, above that. But if you compare it to other specifically developed markets, and even developing markets, we are still well behind with many other markets being in excess of 10%, where online is in excess of 10% of total retail.

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