Did you know that the total online spend between business and consumer in South Africa was R11,5 Billion in 2011?

According to a study done by World Wide Worx, approximately 150,000 SME’s in South Africa would not be able to survive without their web presence. With SME’s accounting for about 7.8-million jobs in South Africa, this means as many as 1.56-million jobs would be in jeopardy were it not for the internet.

For today I want to focus on every business that sells products and I have just one question: Can I buy your products online…and can I use your online shop with ease?

In 2005 I was due to travel to Canada for my Internet Consultancy training and my flight was via London. I decided to stay over in London at a friend’s house for a day or two to do ‘the tourist thing.’ For this reason I wanted a digital camera that was not yet available in South Africa and I asked my friend to keep his eyes open for a bargain on this model as he goes about his daily life in London.

The next moment I received an e-mail from him with a link to an online store that sells this camera. I was disgusted that he didn’t even bother to go to some of the big electronic stores in London. After my stay with him I realized however, that this was the way the first world buys…online. Back in South Africa we didn’t even have 3G yet.

Many people believe that London’s bad weather and congestion causes people to shop online and that because in South Africa we have nice weather people prefer to go out to shop. This situation is however changing quickly.

online shopI conducted an informal survey of my own amongst office workers in Johannesburg. From the households represented, they have bought the following online in the last 30 days:

  • Service parts for a Land Rover from UK (Cheaper than anywhere in RSA)
  • Toys for their children
  • Ingredients for Italian food
  • Books from various online stores
  • Tropical fish from a local retailer.

My brother, who lives in Perth, Australia, has bought a sausage filler from a German man living in Centurion, South Africa, who operates out of his house shipping any sausage and biltong related products to X-South Africans worldwide. It’s a global village!

I have met several people that sell their products exclusively online. They are in obscure places, operating from old houses, garages, buildings etc. shipping to customers worldwide and making a good living.

Yes, it takes time and money to make money online, but which start-up business does not? Most businesses only really start providing financial reward after about 2 years and you will find that it is the same with an online store. But if you start today you may have a roaring business in two years, or you can start in two years and may have a roaring business in 4 years.

Why delay? Start today and build your products’ online presence.