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Amazon opens doors in South Africa; entrepreneurs scramble

Amazon opens doors in South Africa; entrepreneurs scramble
Amazon opens doors in South Africa; entrepreneurs scramble

E-commerce experts in South Africa are warning local business owners and entrepreneurs to “start selling on Amazon ASAP!” 

The global online retailer has finally made its appearance in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s the first storefront on the continent. 

It says in a statement that the focus will be on “great value, broad selection – including international and local products.”

While Amazon’s launch is creating significant opportunities for local businesses, it goes without saying that there is also a sense of nervousness and competition in the air. 

Warrick Kernes, owner of Insaka e-commerce Academy, has been training entrepreneurs and online business owners for months on how to sell on Amazon for when that day comes. With the retailer officially opening its doors, there is still a ‘scramble’ to get products out on the e-commerce platform as soon as possible. 

Kernes says: “Especially if you’re excited to increase your product visibility, expand your customer base, and, of course, bring in more sales.”

In a newsletter to entrepreneurs, Kernes reminds sellers that it’s the “early movers” that will face less competition, enjoy more product exposure, and benefit from Amazon’s marketing buzz.”

Amazon wants to give ‘great value’

Amazon is no stranger to online shopping customers, and this is seen as a considerable advantage, unlike its rivals, Shein and Temu, which still need to build trust with customers in South Africa. 

The international company is also trying to position itself as a “stress-free shopping experience.” Local customers have been complaining on social media about Temu and Shein not reaching their expectations in some instances.

Amazon offers customers free delivery on their first order to lure more online shoppers.

But how will the retail giant navigate the unique stumble blocks and geographical obstacles in South Africa? It promises 24/7 customer support and over 3,000 pickup points scattered nationwide. However, it remains to be seen how it will handle the unique challenges to deliver same day. 

Packaging for sustainability

Packaging is one of Amazon’s key strategies to minimize its carbon footprint. Last year, it minimized its extra boxes and tried new wrapping to keep extra papers off landfill sites. 

In November, Amazon dropped boxes on certain products altogether. However, South African media reports that it has partnered with locals to offer customers a unique packaging experience. Eligible products can be packaged in gift bags handmade by women. These elderly women known as “gogo’s” are part of the NGO called goGOGOgo in the community. 

The gift bags are made from recycled plastics. 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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