5 Inspiring African Online Stores To Inspire You

By: Victoria Greene
Twitter Logo @Vickyecommerce

Despite the limitations of limited internet connectivity and infrastructure, African business is breaking through, overcoming the obstacles in its way, and establishing itself online. This is particularly the case for African fashion enterprises – of which the Western world is in awe – and marketplaces that make Western goods available to African audiences. This article will explore 4 exciting African online businesses that might just inspire you to set up your own.

Check out our previous article on how Nigerian ecommerce giant Konga.com has pioneered a seamless payment solution to offer a great online customer experience.

KISUA

Credit: Kisua

Kisua is a unique fashion brand that aims to showcase the continent’s most talented designers, shipping across Africa, America and Europe.

This exciting brand has been plugged by the likes of Beyoncé, and for good reason. Kisua seeks to rectify the fact that most well-known fashion designers are from Western cities like Paris, Milan, New York and London. These metropolises have solid infrastructure that makes it far easier for talented designers to get recognition for their work. Samuel Mensah, Kisua’s founder, set out to get a slice of the action for Africa’s homegrown talent, and so far, so good.

The Kisua store has a great, professional-looking design that’s easy to navigate and caters to a wide range of payment types across multiple markets. We expect Kisua to go from strength to strength as the world now has greater access to African prints, patterns and styles.

DRESS ME OUTLET

Credit: Dress Me Outlet

Olatorera Oniru bravely left a solid career in banking and tech to establish Dress Me Outlet. This site, based in Lagos, sells up to 95% of its products to customers in Nigeria.

Nigeria, still recovering from its recession after a steep drop in oil prices, has offered Oniru an opportunity to cater to Nigerians in need of cheaper clothing, as imported goods have become less affordable. Despite fierce competition from online marketplaces Jumia and Konga, Dress Me Outlet has asserted itself with a large market share in Nigeria, and considerable sales elsewhere, by offering free shipping and competitive pricing.
Dress Me Outlet is an example to us all: by finding and solving a gap in a market, online businesses are far more likely to exceed, despite tough competition.

CAPE COFFEE BEANS

Credit: Cafe Coffee Beans

Cape Coffee Beans, owned by South African businessman Phaedon Gourtsoyannis, is an example of why passion for your product offering is so important for success in the world of ecommerce.

This coffee store supplies an impressive array of coffee to cater for different brewing methods, making it a one-stop shop for any coffee enthusiast. Phaedon employs brand storytelling to great effect, explaining his passion for coffee in detail on his ‘About’ page. This evokes an emotional connection between his business and his target audience, which will make coffee connoisseurs more likely to make a purchase.

On top of this, Phaedon has pages on his online store dedicated to educating his customers on how to make great-tasting coffee, the science behind grinding beans and brewing coffee, and why he refuses to sell pre-ground coffee. (Hint: pre-ground loses its freshness and flavor rapidly.) Providing page visitors with valuable content is a sure-fire way to boost your chances of making a sale.

SEEDS FOR AFRICA

Credit: Seeds for Africa

Seeds for Africa is a South African privately owned company, formed in 2011. This online store provides an impressive catalogue of over 2600 indigenous African and exotic plant seeds. This brand discovered a gap in the market, as the internet was awash with mundane seed offerings. Seed of Africa looks to stock only interesting, rare and high quality seed products at competitive prices.

This business is a great example of omnichannel selling, as Seeds of Africa also sell through eBay, bidorbuy.co.za, and AfricaSeeds.com. As such, it seamlessly caters to customers across Africa, the USA, Europe and the UK. This strategy gets the business more exposure and boosts chances of making sales considerably.

In addition, Seeds of Africa offers post-sales services to its customers. For example, customer representatives offer advice and guidance upon request, with the aim of improving people’s gardening experience and assisting them to get the best results from their products.

By providing customers with advice after making a purchase may been instrumental in this online store’s success – it increases the chances of customers making repeat purchases and leaving positive reviews and feedback. On low-ticket items, repeat business is important, and positive reviews are particularly useful when selling on online marketplaces.

VINYL CAFE

Credit: Vinyl Cafe

Vinyl Cafe is a boutique online record store, based in South Africa. This store is designed to connect people with records they love across the continent. With an interesting array of records coming in constantly, this store has made a name for itself on social media, with a five star rating on its Facebook profile.

Vinyl cafe is run on the ecommerce building platform Shopify, which has significantly lowered the barriers to entry for ecommerce in Africa. This SaaS service integrates with PayFast, SA’s secure online payment gateway. This makes it a great choice for budding African online entrepreneurs, and this is a sign of things to come as more and more shops make the transition to online operations.

Which of these online stores inspired you the most? Are you planning to get your own store up and running to become part of Africa’s blossoming ecommerce industry? Let us know in the comments.


Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.
I work as a marketing consultant, and I spend my free time either blogging or travelling (or both!). I love being instrumental in an online brand’s success, and sharing my knowledge with others in the industry. Sharing is caring.

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