Shoppers need proper tools to encourage e-commerce adoption

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People do not need to be taught to shop online but rather provided with tools that give them a better buying experience, according to Shopstar founder and managing director (MD) Jens Herf.

Cape Town startup Shopstar allows anyone to create and manage their own online store. It has built e-commerce stores for the likes of SUPER GlassesKin and Dear Rae, and has more than 1,400 registered shops with a combined turnover of close to ZAR10 million (US$900,000) to date.

Disrupt Africa reported in January the company was one of 13 startups selected to take part in high growth investment company Knife Capital’s Grindstone accelerator programme.

Herf told Disrupt Africa Shopstar had worked very closely with its clients to have a better understanding of how e-commerce fits into the retail space in South Africa.

This has allowed us to understand that the growth of e-commerce for smaller businesses is not so much about teaching people about shopping online, but rather building tools which will assist the shopper in a better buying experience,” he said.

“These experiences include finding the right products, trusting the brand they engage with and combining online with offline.”

Herf said by building technology to facilitate this positive experience Shopstar was providing smaller retailers with a product which would assist them in embracing commerce online and offline more effectively.

“This leads to more and more retailers setting up with and selling through Shopstar – generating growth in the e-commerce space,” he said.

Last week, Charles Brewer, managing director of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, said the increasing growth of e-commerce in Africa is changing the face of the traditional consumer, with brands needing to adapt their strategies to remain relevant.

Brewer pointed to the fact African consumers are increasingly searching online platforms with commercial intent, querying prices of goods and researching where products or services can be purchased.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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