online business

The e-commerce sector in South Africa is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. According to, South African e-commerce sales are up a whopping 13% year-on-year.


In 2019 alone, online revenue was R48.3-million.


If you’re planning on starting an online business in South Africa – or moving your brick-and-mortar business into an online space – here’s how to do it.


1. Do your research

Be sure you fully understand what you’re getting into. Starting (and running) an online business takes a lot of time and energy.


In the beginning, you’ll be wearing multiple hats within the business. Be absolutely ready for the road ahead to guarantee success.


2. Choose your product

There’s no point having a site if you don’t know what you’re selling. You need to select a product or service that the South African audience actually wants.


Understand this product inside and out before you launch your site. Remember that different products have different restrictions and regulations.


3. Select a platform

Decide on the best content management system (CMS) for your business. In the beginning, it’s best to go for a pre-built system.


In South Africa, WordPress, WooCommerce and Shopify are considered the best options. These CMS all allow you to sell in Rands, and offer South Africans adequate support.


4. Scope out the competition

Look at what your competitors are doing. Is it working? What could be improved? This will also help you determine your costs for pricing and shipping.


Check international online stores that sell similar products to get an idea of other ways to improve your own experience.


5. Hire a lawyer

At one point or another, something will go wrong with a sale. It’s inevitable. Your Terms & Conditions need to protect you, and for that they have to be absolutely perfect.


Have a lawyer look them over to make sure everything is clear, easy to understand, and legal.


Your website policies also need to comply with the Consumer Protection Act and the Electronic Communications Act.


6. Go live

It’s officially time to start making sales. There will never be a perfect moment, so as soon as all your vital ducks are in a row, start selling.


There are a few ways to guarantee sales in the early stages:

  • promote yourself on social media
  • sell to friends and family
  • run a competition or a giveaway
  • send an email to your pre-launch contact list
  • spread the word offline

7. Marketing is king

The importance of marketing cannot be underestimated. Driving traffic is imperative to effectively starting an online business in SA.


Use the tools you have at your disposal, like social media and Google Ads. Creating brand awareness now is easier than it’s ever been.


8. Figure out your storage solution

To start an online business, you’re going to need stock – and space to store it.


At XtraSpace, we offer clean, secure self-storage units that are ideal if you’re starting an online business or need to store business stock, equipment, documents and more.


A number of XtraSpace branches also offer affordable warehouse storage, ideal for small to medium businesses.


Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.

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