Durban brothers take shopping to new heights
“It was 2015 and we saw what e-commerce had done to the retail business in China and realised it was time to change. We decided we wanted to be the Amazon of Africa in online fashion, and Planet54.com was born,” said MI Jeewa, of Planet54.
Planet is a metaphor for an out of this world shopping experience, and the 54 represents the 54 countries in Africa.
Their quest to reach countries across the continent has already begun with a reach into southern Africa in Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
Durban-based brothers MI and Shiraz Jeewa spent a year developing the online shopping platform, sourcing stock and filling their warehouses in preparation for the launch of Planet54 just before Black Friday. Their first Black Friday in 2016 taught them more than they could have imagined about e-commerce.
They did not expect the traffic, volumes or turnover, and the platform could not cope.
They scrapped everything and started over again using the Shopify platform. More cautious in 2017 they launched in October a month before Black Friday. This time was it a success. Since the launch of the independent e-commerce site in 2016 it has grown by 300% year on year.
Being innovative is key to their success. This year the company used Black Friday as a marketing campaign and sold thousands of quality branded items from handbags and shoes to caps and sunglasses for R1.
“Giving huge discounts is what Black Friday is about. We decided to take it further and we had a wild day.”
Besides crazy marketing deals this e-fashion mall differentiates itself from other sites in several ways.
Most distinctive is that it owns leading brands such as TomTom, Seduction, Lonsdale and designs, and manufactures and warehouses the 10000 types of product it offers.
It also carries premium brands Hugo Boss and Puma.
The online venture currently directly employs 60 people across administration, IT, customer care and warehousing.
They have also brought on a second courier service to meet growing demand.