Kalahari jostles for top spot

Tyson Ngubeni
By Tyson Ngubeni
Johannesburg, 09 Sept 2014
Kalahari aims to enhance its user experience on mobile platforms.
Kalahari aims to enhance its user experience on mobile platforms.

As local e-tailers eye a stronger push towards enabling more transactions using mobile devices, - one of SA's biggest online merchants - wants to capitalise on its status as one of the older brands, while pushing to retain customers.

Dirk Oberholster, the e-tailer's recently-appointed CTO, says Kalahari will look to maintain an "aggressive" strategy to maintain its share of the market in an increasingly competitive space. He says the emergence of smaller, niche players in the local e-commerce space has diversified the landscape, although consolidation may be on the cards in the future.

"You also see the traditional retailers looking at extending their offerings into the online space. This brings along its own challenges, but at the same time also opportunities. Marketing automation is certainly something that is getting huge traction in our market and it's clear that the relevance of automated marketing is improving," adds Oberholster.

Founded in 1998, Kalahari forms a part of Naspers subsidiary of MIH Internet Africa, which restructured its operations earlier this year and aims to grow aggressively over the next few years.

The recent Annual South African E-commerce Awardspresented at a conference held by uAfrica named Kalahari SA's favourite e-commerce Web site, while other winners included fashion e-tailer Zando and homeware merchant Yuppiechef.

'Big mobile focus'

uAfrica noted its survey - which included more than 116 000 respondents, showed more than half of SA's shoppers are accessing e-commerce platforms using mobile devices. Oberholster describes Kalahari's mobile offensive as one of its big focal points moving forward, with the company looking to enhance the shopping experience on its platforms, which include its apps on Google Play and Apple stores.

Brian Nelson, industry head at Google SA, describes mobile as a disruptive technological force to e-commerce, with local e-tailers having to quickly adapt to consumer browsing and purchasing patterns.

uAfrica e-commerce award winners

Best e-commerce store: Yuppiechef
Best e-commerce services platform:
Best small e-commerce business: Poetry stores
Best customer service: Zando
Best shopping process: Zando
SA's favourite e-commerce Web site:

Speaking at the uAfrica conference, Nelson said: "If you are an e-commerce player and you have no mobile strategy or no idea what you are going to do with the mobile platform, then chances are your business has already been left behind."

Meanwhile, Roan Murray, CEO of mobile payment systems company Switching House, says merchants could look into alternative payment methods in order to boost user numbers. Murray says mobile wallets or virtual accounts could yet make an impact in e-commerce, should merchants accept them as additional channels. "Acceptance of alternative tender types will enhance the footprint of possible clients and should be used to expose a much wider audience to e-tailing".