As South Africans learn to trust online security systems, online shopping is becoming a popular option for many of us. Buyers and sellers from across the country trade with each other on the popular auction site, bidorbuy. We spoke with Jaco Jonker, CEO of bidorbuy, about his views on online shopping in South Africa, their reputation monitoring systems and how bidorbuy has become a full-time job for many people.
Ecommerce is starting to gain momentum in South Africa, but we have always been a bit behind The States and Europe. Why do you think this is?
South Africa is still struggling with inadequate coverage, expensive bandwidth and low internet speeds, but the good news is that the situation is improving and the importance of the internet economy is beginning to get the recognition it deserves. As internet usage in South Africa becomes more widespread, with always-on, broadband internet access becoming increasingly affordable and hence more mainstream, South Africans are able to participate in the global internet economy.
Online security is probably the biggest fear among online shoppers. How do you handle this issue at bidorbuy?
Research done by World Wide Worx indicates that it takes about five years for a new internet user to become comfortable with buying online as they get acquainted with the new environment. This could be as a result of the belief that it is safer to use a credit card in a bricks and mortar store rather than online, but often this is not the case. At bidorbuy, and other reputable online retailers, sensitive information is encrypted to ensure it is protected.
We take the security of our users very seriously. As a result of the sophisticated security infrastructure bidorbuy has in place coupled with our very alert community and our own security team, instances of outright fraud are rare on bidorbuy. We also make an effort to educate our users about how to behave on an online marketplace. They are made aware that on bidorbuy buyers and sellers trade directly with each other and are given several tools, such as the bidorbuy rating system, to help them make an informed decision before entering a transaction.
What are the demographics for the average seller and average buyer on bidorbuy?
Based on the last demographics survey we conducted, our average user is between 20 and 39 years old, living in the main centres – predominantly Gauteng, followed by KZN and Western Cape. There is a fairly equal split between male and female, and largely our user-base has some form of tertiary education.
It is interesting to note that some people actually make their living by selling on the bidorbuy website. What are the customised tools that you offer for bulk sellers?
While for some, selling on bidorbuy is an enjoyable hobby that brings in some extra cash. For others, it is a primary source of income. bidorbuy has become the largest online marketplace of its kind in South Africa. Without the cost of rent or any other fixed overheads, it is easier than ever to successfully use bidorbuy as a business platform. Sellers have at their disposal numerous tools designed to ease their workload, for example bulk listings upload, multiple images upload, bulk ratings, messaging tools and so on.
Businesses that already have their own Ecommerce website or shopping cart can create automatic product feeds onto bidorbuy.co.za, ensuring a wider audience for their merchandise.
In addition, we have recently launched bidorbuy Stores which gives credible sellers the opportunity to set up a basic, advanced or premium virtual store, taking advantage of different levels of branding and buyer protection.
How are sellers monitored in order to track their reputation and sense of honesty when selling items?
We conduct continuous system checks and have various tools in place such as flags, helpdesk tickets and customer feedback, to assist us with monitoring seller behaviour. If a seller fails our checks then we will ensure they do not trade on our site.
Buyers and sellers can also get an idea of who they are dealing with thanks to our rating system. Buyers rate sellers based on the service and the quality of the product, and sellers rate buyers on the basis of prompt payments and ease of transaction. The rating system gives buyers a good idea about the past performance and reputation of sellers. This empowers them to make an informed shopping decision, so that their shopping experience is not only rewarding, but also fun and pleasurable.
We have a very active Forum where users can seek and give advice. We also have a strong team of customer consultants. Our customer service telephone number is displayed at the top of each and every page of our website and our users are welcome to call us whenever they are in doubt regarding a specific transaction or need help.
Thanks for sharing this with us, Jaco. We look forward to many more tradings on bidorbuy.