Mamongae Mahlare, CEO of Takealot, says the e-commerce company…


The biggest headache with online delivery – that is, if you’re using a reputable seller – isn’t that the clothes are ill-fitting or of poor quality; that the shoes are the wrong size or that the grocery item you selected was replaced with a wrong brand: you had to sit at home for hours with no other errands to run while you wait for the goods to arrive. And then to discover that the order was screwed up.

Leading online retailer Takealot says it is acutely aware of customer pain points, which is why it is testing new collection options while developing technology to improve the customer experience.

It also hopes to stimulate the economy by pushing ahead with a program that will allow more SMEs to access markets while increasing their national footprint.

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Mamongae Mahlare, Takealot’s Group Chief Executive Officer, says that one of the key realities of the platform is that it is a marketplace and enabler for SMEs to access markets.

“We’ve gone from 124 vendors in 2014 to around 8,000 vendors now. This platform is a powerful enabler for SMEs to start their businesses, but more importantly, to grow them too. And we have continued to improve the operational support service on our platform.”

Support for SMEs ranges from managing accounts and making money, to important factors a business needs to consider, to stocking up on time. However, what has become clearer is the need for more support to become a successful business – skills that all entrepreneurs need to run a profitable business.

In mid-February, Takealot launched a program to support black entrepreneurs. Last weekend it completed its first phase boot camp in Cape Town; Another one will take place in Johannesburg next weekend.

The first phase is essentially an accelerator program that offers workshops and interactive learning opportunities. In the second phase, the 30 participants in the program submit their business cases. They are looked after and some may need capital to continue their business. Takealot will offer limited grants to some worthy entrepreneurs, although Mamongae would not be implicated in disclosure of the quantum.

The final phase will be hands-on, giving aspiring entrepreneurs an important insight into the real world and acquiring life skills such as record keeping, basic bookkeeping and registering their business/brand.

Mamongae says this will boost their ability to thrive.

“We need an economy that is growing and inclusive. Empowering black SMEs in particular is crucial. We must ensure that these SMEs are able to be sustainable. Every sale is important.”

Power outage solutions

Operating in South Africa amid punitive blackouts is always a challenge as generators, diesel and other remedies are costly – but Takelot has benefited immensely from the crisis as customer demand for ‘load shedding’ solutions has been at an all-time high. The site has a dedicated section to help customers stay connected in the dark; Keep devices running and generate electricity.

“We’ve sold tons of load shedding devices, which gives our customers more continuity in their day-to-day lives. If you have about 10 hours of downtime, you need to be able to charge batteries, laptops, UPSs and other devices. It is a very important part of our business, which is why we have invested heavily in our service offering and website.”

The site also offers advice on what customers need for their specific needs to ensure their life at home or at work, from economical items such as LED lights to high-quality, value-for-money solutions.


Regarding those pesky deliveries, Takelot is improving its technology to improve and shorten the window, but that will take time as it’s a complex matter, Mamongae explains.

The number of pick-up points has now grown to around 90 across the country. It is also Test collection points on two Pick n Pays – Table Bay and Brackenfell. This allows customers to conveniently pick up their packages instead of having to wait for deliveries.

E-commerce is still in a development phase in South Africa with huge potential for growth, so new players like Amazon – who are said to be preparing to launch in South Africa by the end of 2023 – could help liven up the space.

“We hope so [Amazon] will be a constructive player who wants to enlarge the pie so that we can all build a sustainable e-commerce model in this country. Because as it stands today, e-commerce accounts for only about 4% of retail, which is over R1.2 trillion. Compared to other emerging markets like Brazil [ecommerce] Penetration is between 12% and 20%,” said Mamongae.

“There is tremendous growth opportunity for e-commerce and we remain cautiously optimistic that investments will help increase e-commerce penetration so you can grow the sector. Because that’s the only way it will make economic sense as it grows, as it’s not very big at the moment.” BM/DM


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