Rise of the consumer — is South Africa’s Private Shopper in the pound seat?

PVT shopper

Taking your business else-where can have some negative connotations, unless of course you are talking about taking it online, in which case you are possibly going to make a whole lot of money these days. That’s especially true for some of the world’s online shops.

Ecommerce is making a big entrance all around the world. If you didn’t know this, meet Instacart, a brand that has a style that resembles a stiff cocktail of companies, combining the convenience and flexibility of Uber, with a splash of Amazon and a hint of entrepreneurial intuition to make it a long island on-demand ice tea for you groceries.

This is an intoxicating reality to us; the idea of an American company that is taking on-demand groceries so far it can almost turn around and wave to the rest of humanity. Securing US$220-million in funding and worth an estimated US$2-billion, the art of grocery shopping just found it’s Da Vinci, and perhaps sparked a small retailing-renaissance.

Read more: Is South Africa ready for its Instacart moment?

Too bad Instacart is in the US. Far away from countries like South Africa, but which is quite capable of producing its own crop of savvy startups keen to take the country’s grocery shoppers online.

Conceived in 2012 and launched in May 2015, South Africa’s Private Shopper is the new kid on the block and this year it hopes to make its debut. With over 360 friends on Facebook and an Instagram account made for home cooked meals and your culinary skills, Private Shopper looks like it could just be South Africa’s spotlight moment for service delivery (that’s new).

Working independently from the retailing giants, Private Shopper can take the best of all grocery worlds (Spar, Pick n Pay, Checkers and Woolworths) and therefore the startup has a mix and match of supplier. “Our core business aggregates and converges leading retailers in South Africa, therefore enabling consumers to shop online across their favourite stores using one profile,” explains founder Bukhosi Ngcolomba who self-funded the business.

With products ranging from Clorets gum to Koo Baked Beans, Handy Andy and Tastic Rice, the minimum order is only R100 coupled with a flat R25 delivery fee. What’s better is the fact that the company offers same day delivery.

Private Shopper app

Not only groceries but traveling is also on the Private Shopper list of things to do, partnering with some of country’s “leading” travel agents and car rental companies to make it a service that knows no boundaries.

Ngcolomba has over 13 years of combined experience in sales, trade marketing, product management, channel development, distribution and client management. He has gained the experience needed while working for organisations such as Japan Tobacco International, Nedbank, Imperial Holdings, and the like. A professional in his own right and seemingly the right man for the job, can Bukhosi pave the way for a retail revolution in South Africa?

Private Shopper is taking an entire chapter from Instacart and rewriting it in 11 different South African languages. Riding the on-demand tsunami, our proudly South African online grocery store is giving you back the time that traditional grocery shopping has stolen.

“The best advertising is done through a satisfied customer,” a quote from Philip Kotler rings inside ones head when thinking of the growth this company is capable of. Offering a service that cuts more corners than Dastardly and Muttley, Private Shopper hires individual shoppers who are said to be customer-centric, talented and dynamic individuals who pay attention to the ripest of deals and the best of shopping.

Touching hearts and pulling off the best possible service is therefore the name of the game, the customer and his or her every wish. Bukhosi elegantly put over an email conversation: “We are cautious about scaling our business too quickly as we are adamant about perfecting our solution for our customers.”

Private Shopper offers is an exponential graph for individuals to get involved with a brand at multiple levels. There is a lot of shopping to do out there, with a lot of awesome South Africans. Surely this poses a way for individuals to make some extra cash, meet some eccentric shoppers and grow a company into a community with some much-needed foreign investment.

Boom or bust?

The merger between Takealot and Kalahari last year has sparked market-wide chatter about the ecommerce and the massive opportunities it would provide to the people and brands that call South Africa home. Yet some estimate that while online retail in the developed world makes up 10% to 12% of total retail, South Africa is barely breaking 1%. The country still has a long way to go no doubt, but if you play your cards right, it might just be worth investing early on in the game.

For now, Bukhosi has set his sights on East, West and South Gauteng, followed by the northern and southern suburbs in the Western Cape, Port Elizabeth and Durban. Of course there is chatter about an app for our South African online grocery shopping guru, “the team has amazing ideas and we would love to introduce an exciting and engaging mobile app when we move to phase two of our launch strategy,” the founder says.

A shopper can love the way Private Shopper works, ask for an app, create the hype, cook up a storm in the kitchen and get this on-demand service and product supplying ecommerce-based online delivery explosion exploding. We as the consumers have more power than you may realise.

“Consumers are looking for services and solutions which will add value to their lives. Therefore, our solution will change the world by defining what customers are yearning for when it comes to retail and digital retail. We think that we have entered the market at the right time in South Africa and consumers are ready for such a service,” says Bukhosi.

Looking at Instacart and its rise to fame, it’s certainly a nail-biting time for any grocery delivery demigod. Could South Africans have front row seats to Private Shopper’s meteoric blasting into another marketingsphere?

Image: John Henderson via Flickr




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