Eustace Mashimbye, chief executive of Proudly South African. Photo: Supplied.
JOHANNESBURG - Today we are launching our very own, dedicated Proudly South African online shopping store on www.rsamade.co.za. It’s something we've been discussing for a long time, as an extension of our own database of products and services, and after months of designing and tweaking we have finally gone live.

According to www.eshopworld.com South Africa has an active online shopping population of more than 18 million people, who last year racked up sales of almost R40billion across a full range of items. 

By the year 2021, the number of shoppers is expected to reach just under 25million, each of whom will spend an estimated R2500. This is a market we clearly cannot ignore, and in this 4th Industrial Revolution in which we find ourselves, we need to tap into South Africans’ digital shopping habits (not to mention that the site, of course, can be accessed and used all over the world).

Assistance with accessing new and bigger markets is the main value proposition we offer members' companies that affiliate with Proudly South African, and no single market has more potential than online shopping platforms.

As we become increasingly tech savvy and more confident of making online purchases, there have been a proliferation of new shopping sites. In addition, retailers are complementing their in-store experience with internet offerings.

It is currently impossible to control the amount of imported content on these popular sites - in fact we can almost certainly deduce that few of them are carrying local products. Following China are Germany, the US, Nigeria and India as the main suppliers to local online shopping platforms.

Given the value in revenue generated from online purchases, we support discussions which are currently being contemplated within the Department of Trade and Industry to possibly regulate a sector that currently has no legislative framework to govern what is being sold online.

Minimum local content thresholds to be carried by each online site that operates within South Africa is one of the discussion points we hope will be included in the legislative framework, if it is introduced. However, in the meantime our site addresses this.

Consumer concerns

Security of payment and guaranteed delivery also concern consumers. Some international sites have stopped delivering to South Africa or at least restricted delivery to certain items as so many orders got "lost" in transit for which they were obliged to reimburse customers.

Our local store created locally with local content will also utilise local banking systems and local couriers, ensuring that the payment process and deliveries are trouble free. Our prices will also not be subject to currency fluctuations, which can cause some sites’ prices to vary from week to week as they land their stock from overseas. Research has shown that what online shoppers want is speed in the entire purchasing process (59percent of SA shoppers spend less than 3hours online, with some spending as little as 30minutes), simplicity of site navigation and excellent visual representation of the products on sale.

This is what we have delivered on our platform which we are populating with exclusively locally made Proudly SA member companies’ products.

Many other companies have applied to register as vendors, and if they comply with our membership criteria we will be delighted to sign them up to the site immediately. The site will carry products first, then will look to offer services, and then we will focus on business to business opportunities with bigger manufacturing companies at a later stage.

Slowly but surely we are building our offering on this one of its kind platform in South Africa. A full range of products, all locally manufactured, with the guaranteed tick of Proudly South African quality available on an attractive, easy to use site.

Making online buy local choices is securing jobs for all those companies that make the products supplied through the site, while the money spent on the site also remains in the local fiscus and economy.

And my song? The theme of Sankomota’s Now or Never is taking a stand and doing it for yourself. If everyone else is doing it for themselves, then so are we with this site.

Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly South African.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

- BUSINESS REPORT