When it comes to tech startups, ecommerce is at once an easy and tricky space to play in.
It’s easy, because to get going all you really need is something to sell, a good design and the right plugins. It’s tricky because people are trusting you with their money. You have to make sure you have the right security, and can guarantee delivery. It’s also not easy to stand out in a market like South Africa where broadband penetration remains comparatively low, forcing you to compete for place in a crowded space.
There are a few that have done so well. They sell a wide variety of products, but generally occupy specific niches. The South African ecommerce awards recognises these sites on an annual basis. This year’s winners included sites owned by mega-corporations, while others are more independent.
1. Best ecommerce store — YuppieChef
This online store claims it is “dedicated to making the world’s best kitchen tools available to South Africans”.
According to the awards’ judging panel:
The Yuppiechef website is a pleasure to use with fast, accurate search results and crisp clear images. The site is informative and the ordering process is streamlined and efficient. The delivery experience is incredible, ensuring satisfied customers. Customer service is responsive and attentive whether it’s over the phone, email or online chat. We loved the mobile site.
2. Best ecommerce services website — Bidorbuy
The online auction site is an ecommerce stalwart in South Africa, having been around since 1999. In early 2011, it bought group-buying site UbuntuDeal
“We enjoyed the fast and secure online shopping, an awesome mobile site and timely responses to customer queries,” said the judging panel.
3. Best group-buying site — Groupon SA
The company might not be faring so well internationally, but the SA franchise maintains that it’s in it for the long-haul. With the like of Naspers’ Dealify and Avusa’s Zappon out of the game, it definitely had less competition for this award than it would have a year ago.
“The website is easy to navigate with a wide range of deals of which the ordering process was extremely quick and straightforward,” say the judges.
4. Best classifieds website — Property 24
The online classifieds game is seriously hotting up, around the world as well as in South Africa. Some think they might even be the thing that finally kills off newspapers.
According to the judges, the Naspers-owned property site won on the strength of its overall design as well as its “extremely fast and attentive responses to customer queries”.
5. Best design, standards & ease of use — TravelGround
TravelGround specialises in helping people find accommodation. Not a new idea but useful for anyone who doesn’t like staying in chain hotels.
According to the judges, the site is “simple, clean and inviting the website is easy to use, fast and informative, with great images and a fast, straightforward checkout process”.
6. Best shopping process — Yuppiechef
Yuppiechef is the only site to have scooped two top spots in the awards.
The judging panel says:
The delivery experience is incredible, ensuring satisfied customers. Customer service is responsive and attentive whether it’s over the phone, email or online chat. We loved the mobile site.
7. The public’s favourite ecommerce website — HomeChoice
When awards are decided only by industry insiders, it always seems like a bit of a circle jerk. This category was decided by public voting. HomeChoice, which stocks bedding, curtains, appliances and luggage among other things, beat out the likes of Zando, bidorbuy and Kalahari to claim the title.