There are a number of options available to create a shopping cart including using solutions such as Shopify and other plug-and-play systems. Picture: 123RF/MAVOIMAGE
There are a number of options available to create a shopping cart including using solutions such as Shopify and other plug-and-play systems. Picture: 123RF/MAVOIMAGE

The Covid-19 lockdown has accelerated the need for businesses to digitise to generate revenues through e-commerce. The good news is that there is now technology that makes it easier and more affordable than ever before to implement a digital strategy. What it takes is a good commercial strategy and a clear understanding of how the customer’s behaviour will change as a result of an e-commerce offering.

The Business Day SME Matters online event series, in partnership with PayFast, focused on how to introduce e-commerce into a business. This discussion was part of a four-part series, facilitated by business growth expert, Pavlo Phitidis, on how to navigate the challenges and opportunities of digitising a business. 

Watch the video below:

There has never been a better time to digitise a business, said Phitidis. Approached correctly it can help a business thrive, even in a crisis. The process starts with understanding your customers and what they need.  

Chemvulc, a 43-year-old family-owned business, serves the tyre and mining sectors. The company has three manufacturing operations in Roodepoort and several branches across the country. Traditionally a brick-and-mortar business, CEO Brendan van Niekerk said the company realised it needed to be online as a result of Covid-19. He quickly implemented a digital strategy allowing the company to maintain its customer relationships and ensure its products are delivered quicker.

The Web Elite specialises in data collection and enterprise resource planning. Developer and designer Lester de Freitas has spent the last five years developing e-commerce solutions with Shopify and helping new merchants get set up on this platform.

Freitas’s advice to Van Niekerk was to ensure Chemvulv’s website is easy to use and straightforward for existing customers, and acts as a showroom for potential new customers. There are a number of options available to create a shopping cart, including using solutions such as Shopify and other plug-and-play systems. He also encouraged website owners to invest in good-quality photography. Integrating with a trusted payment platform such as PayFast is easy if you have the right website. 

Kevin Wakatama, an e-commerce integration consultant and technician with Stock2Shop, helps clients automate their data en route to a fully functional e-commerce integration. Efficient inventory management is essential in an e-commerce offering, given that customers want a quick and efficient service. 

Robin Harris, a business development ninja at Parcelninja, a warehouse and logistics company, said a virtual, seamless fulfilment solution allows business owners to focus on growing their business. Parcelninja integrates with various courier solutions and has an algorithm which determines the most affordable and efficient courier, as well as tracks and traces deliveries. 

“E-commerce relies on so many small elements, put into a sequence, that create a single experience,” said Phitidis. Businesses should not forget that they exist to solve a problem for their customers and that, ultimately, it’s all about the customer. 

If you enjoyed this online discussion, tune into the next Business Day SME Matters in partnership with PayFast around “How to use digital marketing to drive sales and profits in a noisy e-commerce environment” on September 22 at 1pm.

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