The cost of running an e-commerce store in South Africa.

Opening an online store is often touted as a cheap option – especially when compared to the costs of a real store. With no building to rent, fittings to install or sales staff to employ, going online does seem like a more affordable and the easier path. But what are the costs really?

As with any new venture, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Entrepreneurs’ dreams often fall flat because of unforeseen costs and hidden expenses. It’s particularly important to make sure that your young business can support these costs from the get-go.

More and more South Africans are becoming used to doing their shopping online, but it’s still a reasonably fresh trend. This means that there are more opportunities for early-adopters to reap the benefits, but it also means more opportunities to bump your head! Avoid those bruises by partnering with the right people from day one.

Four key considerations when picking your online store platform:


1. Can you carry the cost?

It can take a while for sales on your online store to really take off. Do you have the capital to keep your store up and running until it begins to make money? It’s especially important to budget correctly if your online store will be your only source of income.

To make sure you’re not left in the lurch financially, make sure to choose a platform that won’t break the bank while sales are slow. And when it comes to online stores, more expensive isn’t always better.

We put together a handy table of the different e-commerce platforms available in South Africa so that you can see exactly how much they cost.

2. Bigger isn’t always better.

Maybe a certain company is known all over the world. Perhaps another company’s been spamming your Facebook feed with ads recently. These companies have resources – human and financial – and that means they’ve invested in looking and sounding great. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a good match for you or your business.

To make a responsible decision that’s right for you, you should research them yourself. What do the people that use their services say about them? Do they have a reputation for looking after their customers? Do they understand what their customers really need from them?

3. Do you have the skills to use it?

Some e-commerce platforms are complicated to use. If they’re created for a technically proficient user, they assume that their customers are digitally savvy and don’t need much help with their online store.

These more advanced platforms often have more features, more customisation options and give you greater influence over the aesthetics and mechanics of your store.

On the other hand, there are platforms that focus on the basics of building a great online store and making sure you’re looked after on a personal level. This would frustrate a more technologically savvy person, but is valuable for people that aren’t totally comfortable in the digital world.

Go with the platform that will cater to your needs. And if you’re not sure, reach out to them and see what they say. You’ll learn about their service and support standards all in one go!

4. What payment options do they offer?

Being able to make safe and secure payments is one of the main concerns for online shoppers in South Africa. Shopstar offers five different options for you to use – have a look at the table below to see a quick overview of how they differ.

In the competitive e-commerce environment, it’s crucial to do your homework and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. It will help you avoid expensive mistakes by picking the right tools and partners from the start.

If you’d like to chat more about whether Shopstar is the right fit for you, get in touch and we’ll walk you through it. We’re based in Cape Town, so help is always just a phone call away.

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