Viable e-comm trading for SMEs in SA gets a boost:

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Viable e-comm trading for SMEs in SA gets a boost:

bidorbuy and uAfrica amalgamated Bob Group shares practical tips on how businesses can scale up quickly and affordably with the help of a proven “everything ecommerce” partner

Johannesburg, 17 October 2022 – “It’s a little like the proverb about planting a tree – the best time to launch an online business is yesterday; the next best time is now.”

That is the message from Bob Group’s Craig Lubbe to South Africa’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

According to McKinsey & Company, 98% of businesses in South Africa are SMEs, contributing some 39% of the country’s gross domestic product – a contribution that is expected to increase in the next few years.

SME growth has become a major focus for Bob Group, an amalgamation between South Africa’s pioneering online auction and marketplace brand bidorbuy and logistics powerhouse uAfrica, that offers everything ecommerce to all South African consumers and companies operating online.

Head of marketplace, Lubbe says while SMEs play a vital role in the economy, they are not without their challenges, including the high costs of running a business, excessive red tape, interruptions to the power supply and limited access to finance and skills training.

However, the online retail space is helping SMEs overcome these obstacles.

In the 2022 Competition Commission report, it recognises that ecommerce enables businesses to retain and grow their market share as so many South Africans are now shopping online. A study released by Deloitte earlier this year shows 70% of the population now buys goods via digital channels.

Ecommerce also allows SMEs to access a far wider customer base. In fact, going online allows businesses to compete with retailers that have a national store footprint “without requiring the same level of investment and risk-taking”.

“The costs of operating physical stores can be mitigated when they are paired with or even replaced by a parallel ecommerce presence,” Lubbe says.

“For example, online grocery shopping established a beachhead during lockdown, and the popularity of
these services continues to grow.”

For SMEs seeking to take their business online, Bob Group believes several key criteria should be met. These are:

Offer outstanding customer service

Life must be made as easy as possible for customers. Offer multiple payment and shipping methods, and ensure that the customer can always reach you across all channels.

Understand shipping and order management

“Plan your customer journey so that you understand how you will get the product to buyer, define your order management process and plan for returns and unexpected circumstances,” advises Lubbe. “It’s vital to have protocols in place to deal with any pain points that arise.”

Do your homework

Some marketplaces like bidorbuy offer free listings, while others charge monthly fees. It’s important to be aware of these, as well as other potential costs.

Automate where possible

Tools like email marketing automation can save you time and allow you to concentrate on your core business activities.


Free tools like Google Analytics can provide actionable customer behaviour insights and help you to tailor your offering to meet the needs of your site visitors.


Often buyers want to be able to chat to you about your product or service before purchase. Being available can make buyers more comfortable, while post-purchase updates during the course of the fulfilment journey help to build trust.

As Bob Group grows, it aims to become a one-stop support destination for SMEs wanting to grow their business online.

Included in the service offering is a tool that allows merchants to sync products from their online store to bidorbuy easily, and a real-time solution for updates to products and inventory. It also offers shipping and tracking solutions; a payment facilitator for a preferred payment option; and a software-as-a-service solution providing technology for courier companies to run their entire business.

“It’s all about customer satisfaction,” Lubbe says.

“Asking for feedback – and listening to your customers – is the best way to improve any offering.”

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About: Bob Group

Bob Group is a merchant- and consumer-focused company born out of an amalgamation between South African online auction and marketplace brand bidorbuy and uAfrica, a logistics ecommerce solution that streamlines order fulfillment and shipping processes for merchants selling online. The company offers a variety of tools to assist merchants, including syncing of products to the bidorbuy platform easily, shipping and tracking solutions, payment facilitation and a software-as-a-service solution for courier companies. Since 2019 Craig Lubbe, the CEO of the bidorbuy, has led bidorbuy in creating a thriving community of buyers and sellers across South Africa, and it is the nation’s biggest online shopping and auction marketplace. uAfrica owner Andy Higgins is an experienced professional in all aspects of ecommerce, including online marketplaces, payments and logistics. He founded bidorbuy and was instrumental
in starting PayFast in South Africa.

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