Event Report: Online Retail State Of The Nation - Download All The Results Here

By Praise Majwafi

Last week Heavy Chef hosted a duo of events in Johannesburg and Cape Town, based on the state of the nation’s ‘Online Retail’ sector. On Wednesday evening, the event was held at Workshop17 in Sandton, headlined by Arthur Goldstuck, Managing Director of World Wide Worx and Brad Elliot, Founder and CEO of Platinum Seed, joined by Ally Khan Pretorius, GM of Uber Eats. On Thursday evening, in Cape Town at Workshop17, Waterfront, the final presentation was given by Andrew Smith, CEO of Yuppiechef.

Brad Elliot was the first of speakers to take the stage, and he taught us some Mandarin in doing so. He spoke about a ‘Whanghong Economy’, which is the nascent Chinese digital economy taking over. It is based on influencer marketing via social media platforms. The term Wanghong (网红) is used to title internet celebrities in China, and their job is to attract internet users on social media, which can later translate into profit through targeted e-commerce and smart online advertising.

Professor Arthur Goldstuck (he’s actually not a professor, he just looks like one) then introduced the results of the largest Online Retail Survey ever conducted in South Africa. This comprehensive survey was a collaborative effort between World Wide Worx, Platinum Seed, Ask Afrika and VISA. It is now available to the general public - click below.

Some salient points from Arthur’s presentation at the event:

  • Online retail in South Africa is set to reach R14,1bn in 2018, with a growth rate of 25%.

  • Lack of reinvestment by online retail in the digital underpinnings of their business hinders growth.

  • The future belongs to those retailers with a customer centric strategy, that offers audacious digital-first, people driven solutions.

Our final chef in Johannesburg, Ally Khan Pretorius, GM of Uber Eats South Africa, stirred the pots and added more flavour to the serving by teaching us how mobile data informs strategy to drive mobile transactional behaviour. Ally spoke about Uber Eats and their evolving strategy, for perspective. She later then mentioned that moving from ‘Recommendations’ to a ‘Personalization’ strategy is the way forward for the online retail space. This shift will tailor the product offering and customer experience to being more customer centric and therefore resulting in a better option for customers.

The following evening’s event saw an even bigger crowd in Cape Town, with Andrew Smith, CEO of Yuppiechef, joining Arthur and Brad on stage, for a scintillating presentation on Yuppiechef’s transition from clicks to bricks. Andrew was funny, insightful and devastatingly honest about how hard it is to create an eCommerce store from the ground up.

The evening ended with Fred Roed, CEO of Heavy Chef, presenting the ‘Online Retailer Of The Year’ awards, supported by World Wide Worx, Platinum Seed and Heavy Chef. The awards were adjudicated based on the extraordinary amount of research pooled by the Platinum Seed and World Wide Worx teams, which gave Arthur, Brad and the various team members a very close view of the retail sector in South Africa.

The awards were handed out by Arthur and Brad, on stage with Simon Leps and Adheesh Burdee from the eCommerce Forum of South Africa.

The winners of SA’s Online Retailer of The Year were:

  1. 2nd Runner-Up: joint award is made to Woolworths and NetFlorist

  2. 1st Runner-Up: Clever Little Monkey

  3. Emerging Retailer of the Year: KAMERS/Makers Online Marketplace

  4. Online Retailer of the Year: Yuppiechef

Andrew Smith and Shane Dryden were in attendance in Cape Town to receive the winning prize.


Above: Arthur Goldstuck, Brad Elliott, Andrew Smith (Yuppiechef), Shane Dryden (Yuppiechef), SImon Leps (eCommerce Forum SA), Adheesh Burdee (eCommerce Forum SA).

All in all, there is a significant growth opportunity in the eCommerce sector and it is driven by high mobile penetration. Yes, South Africa might not be considered a ‘Whanghong Economy’, but the potential of us becoming a contributor to the world of eCommerce is there. Vuka Afrika, masenze!