Bob vows competitive shock for Takealot, Amazon

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 21 Sept 2022
uAfrica co-founder Andy Higgins.
uAfrica co-founder Andy Higgins.

Move over Takealot and Amazon. This is the word from SA’s newest online shopping platform Bob Group, which is promising to shake-up local e-commerce.

Bob Group, which launched last week, says it has aggressive plans to sidestep competition from rivals and give them a run for their money, as SA’s e-commerce sector is poised for further growth.

The Bob Group was born out of tie-up between Bidorbuy and e-logistics firm uAfrica, promising to offer “everything e-commerce” to South Africans.

The company is joining a ballooning e-commerce sector in SA, promising to be combative in the face of competition.

Recent findings by the Competition Commission point to a growing local e-commerce sector, but the anti-trust authority cautioned that SA’s largest e-commerce site Takealot and Google use anti-competitive practices to outflank competitors.

Speaking to ITWeb recently, uAfrica co-founder Andy Higgins said: “I think some people may think we are crazy trying to take on those behemoths (Takealot, Amazon and Massmart). We have few tricks up our sleeves, so we are very excited about the value we can add.

“In our opinion, e-commerce in SA is still trailing the rest of the world, compared to our developing counterparts, and we think probably less than 3% of SA retail is online; there is a lot of scope for growth.

“It’s very exciting for us; we learned a lot over the years. We are ready for competition and expected competition from the likes of incumbents Takealot and Walmart, which announced it intends to acquire 100% of Massmart, and of course, Amazon is coming next year.”

Higgins says with years of experience with Bidorbuy and uAfrica, he has gained massive insights into e-commerce and it’s now a full circle for him and Bidorbuy CEO Craig Lubbe.

He explains: “Before the dotcom boom in 1999, we started Bidorbuy in SA. It was during the crazy time when the internet experienced the boom and then crashed. We lived through all that, and we feel in some ways, we are pioneers in the space, in SA certainly.

“We believe we can play a major role. South Africa is poised for a shake-up in the e-commerce space and we are definitely throwing our hat into the ring to be part of that.”

Higgins details what sets Bob Group apart from the incumbents: “We see ourselves as the helping hand to SMEs or merchants; and for us, it’s very important. If you look at the Takealot or Amazon model, they actually source from suppliers themselves and sell directly.

“Amazon and Takealot do that, Walmart also does the same. We don’t compete directly with our sellers. So first and foremost, we see ourselves as a helping hand to sellers, SMEs, and not only through the Bob Group marketplace, but any other channel they want, including their websites.

“We are more seller-friendly than our competitors, while at the same time we aren’t compromising on the excellent service buyers have come to expect from Bidorbuy.”