In 2019 the value of Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases hit R6 billion in SA, a significant increase on the nearly R3 billion spent in 2018 – which outperformed sales from previous years. What became apparent in 2019 was that despite a sluggish economy, South Africans were still spending.

This year, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, most consumers will be choosing to shop online. This is an opportunity for small businesses to benefit and make up for lost revenues in 2020. Whether SMEs are selling a product or a service they would be well advised to follow the lead of large retailers, the majority of whom have an e-commerce presence.

The fourth and final episode of the Business Day SME Matters in partnership with PayFast digitised conversation focused on how to build an e-commerce offering to capitalise on the growing Black Friday trend. Facilitated by business growth expert, Pavlo Phitidis, previous discussions have focused on digital readiness and how to prepare a business for the challenges and opportunities of the new world; how to navigate the challenges and opportunities of digitising a business; and how to use digital marketing to drive sales and profits in a noisy e-commerce environment.

Photo Credit: Grabowska

Matt Smith, the CEO of Webtrends Optimize, a company focused on helping businesses increase online conversions. Smith discussed how he helped develop an online platform for Thomas Cooke

which allowed consumers to view travel brochures online and then configure and book their customised holiday without having to engage with multiple websites. Online experiences, he said, can be enhanced with augmented reality in order to bring experiences to life.

Melanie van Biljoen is the CEO of Bizzamm Legal, a company providing an easy-to-use digital system which comes with binding legal documents that are made directly available to users without having to use a lawyer and pay high fees for basic legal documents. It aims to remove the stress and complexity of legal processes. Understanding what is important and valuable to customers has been critical in the development of the platform, she revealed.

Glenn Gillis, the co-founder and CEO of Sea Monster, a digital animation study, explained the difference between augmented reality – a tool which layers digital over the real world – and virtual reality – putting something in a digital world. Sea Monster uses games, VR and AR technology as an instrument to develop new and advanced methods of communication and education solutions for corporations.

PayFast MD, Jonathan Smit, said that although in recent years payment systems have become far more seamless and almost invisible, there is still work to be done in the field of e-commerce, particularly around logistics. His advice to small businesses was to engage with existing online marketplaces such as Takealot or Bid or Buy which did much of the ‘heavy lifting’ and gave small businesses an affordable way of accessing customers online.

To recap the entire series, click the links below:

Watch Part 1– How to ready your business for the challenges and opportunities of the new world

Watch Part 2– How to succeed in a crowded e-commerce space

Watch Part 3– How to use digital marketing to drive sales and profits in a noisy e-commerce environment

Watch Part 4– Building out an e-commerce offering for any business to capitalise on the Black Friday growing trend

The Business Day SME Matters digital series is a brand extension of the annual Standard Bank SME Summit that provides an opportunity for small business owners, entrepreneurs, incubators, franchisers, investors as well as suppliers to the SME sector, to come together and engage with experts in the business, technology, marketing and investment fields. It’s where SA’s leading entrepreneurs and business personalities share their knowledge and insights to help small businesses grow and stay ahead of the pack.