A flurry of online buying companies has rushed in on South Africa, some local and some from abroad, and a relatively new kid on the block has launched recently, offering any number of products amidst stiff competition. We spoke to Ardi Coetzee and Kevin Pillay from EasiOnline about their plans and aims in this market.
Ventureburn: Perhaps we can start with a little on each of your backgrounds?
Kevin Pillay: Prior to Easionline, I’ve been involved in the financial selling and credit industries, and decided to go into online, and am extremely happy so far with what I or rather we see.
Ardi Coetzee: After varsity, I went to Allan Gray and then on by myself to a company NamHost, I’m now a full-time developer, doing anything from custom integrations to new development, so what I learnt before is perfect to run EasiOnline. I am the Technical Lead for EasiOnline, and manage the developers.
VB: You mentioned Namibia, anything happening there in terms of online?
AC: Well, not much yet, in fact until 2 years ago you could not even choose Namibia on Facebook for your PPC campaign, it would not even come up! Nowadays you can, and can even choose Windhoek.
VB: You’ve started a rather full online shop from day one – many online shops are niche focused, yours is broader. The name — where does that come from?
KP: We thought it must be a name that’s catchy and that name was born last year, when we said that every business we go into must be “easy”. We have others businesses as well, not based online, which carry the name Easi.
VB: While there are reasons for both, you’ve chosen to use a .com domain, why not a .co.za?
AC: We thought we’d not only focus on South Africa, and while we’ve decided to stick with South Africa for now, we plan to expand in the long run. Definitely Africa, we’ll of course start with Namibia and move from there on.
VB: How large is EasiOnline right now?
KP: Right now we are small in terms of staff, we expect growth in the customer services team, and also our developers. We’re only in the first phase, and we’ll need more skills and I think we are going to see that in the next 3-6 months.
VB: Growth then, yes, have you seen any yet?
KP: Our second full month already gives us an indication that we’re growing well, not just in terms of traffic and sales, but also the requests from the public and feedback. We built everything to have a one-stop shopping experience. Outdoor, indoor, gaming, videos, books, we want to be the one-stop shop, and if we don’t have it, we’ll gladly find it for you.
VB: Alright, many companies online drop the ball with service, you guys have an online chat pop-up, hotline, email, is this enough?
AC: Yes, they work very well, clients chat with us and we can turn clicks into sales much more easily in our opinion. We are Verisign approved and many online websites do not display this or even have it. Not everyone in South Africa is used to buying things on the Internet.
VB: Yes, a lot of people are still very afraid to transact online, do you offer cash-on-delivery, what methods of payment are available?
KP: Yes, we take all credit cards, we accept cash deposits, and we accept manual EFTs too, so we cover that avenue even though it takes a bit longer. The fact is you are paying money, regardless how you are doing it, and we would like to offer a service to be able to pay in every manner. We see this again as a service, and a proactive one.
VB: You haven’t chosen a niche, you’re doing all the categories in one swoop, what’s the reason for that approach?
KP: We really do want to move as fast as possible to a state where we are offering everything under on roof. You can buy everything you need for a new office, or most kitchen appliances, or books and more on the site.
AC: Our soft launch has proven successful and we’re increasing our marketing efforts now and will become really noticeable pretty soon.
VB: I wish you all the best and good luck for the future.
EasiOnline has a nice interface and my attempts to navigate through it went well. It doesn’t have as many products as Kalahari.com and TakeALot, for example. However, there are products on EasiOnline that I couldn’t find on the others, perhaps a good sign for it. It will remain to be seen how EasiOnline finds its way in the current South African online market, which is growing month on month in both size and competition.