SOLshop enables ‘power’ of online bulk buying

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 10 Oct 2023
Jonathan Holden, COO of SOLmate.
Jonathan Holden, COO of SOLmate.

SOLshop, an online platform that enables stokvel or group buying of day-to-day items, says local consumers are increasingly embracing the new bulk buying trend in online shopping.

Since it launched locally in August 2022,SOLshop says its actively engaged customers have increased by 10% month-on-month, withclose to 50 000 app downloads, to date.

Claimed by the company to be the first-of-its-kind in SA’s e-commerce market, SOLshop’s bulk buying − or social commerce − business model allows consumers to “stretch their rand”.

Clients purchase products at reduced prices, enabling groups of individual shoppers to coordinate buying activities, benefiting from group discounts.

With the cost of living on the rise, the company says it provides a practical solution for individuals to buy in bulk, catering to their specific needs.

The online marketplace connects suppliers, farmers and wholesalers with customers on one platform.

“We are only just a year old now but have already experienced phenomenal interest, with our weekly specials usually seeing a huge spike in interest and new app installs, as word of mouth spreads,” notes Jonathan Holden, COO of SOLshop.

“Group buying allows for bulk orders with suppliers, thus bringing the cost to the end consumer down as far as possible. The key objectives are to bring innovation into the retail shopping arena and provide the market with a way to save and practise the art of social e-commerce.”

In addition to cost saving, the proliferation of smartphones and broader access to connectivity contribute to customers increasingly embracing this new trend, he says.

Customers can select from 15 categories, including packaged food, fresh vegetables, toiletries, stationery and the latest addition of wigs and hairpieces.

The service is currently only available in Gauteng, with plans to expand further in future.

According to Holden, the offering requires a group to be formed so that bulk buying power is achieved with suppliers. Some groups require only two users, while others require more.

Customers can either join an existing group, or start their own. Once the group has selected items to be purchased, the order is confirmed and the goods will be ready for shipping.

The main warehouse/depot is in Randburg, and the company has a growing number of pickup points around Johannesburg.

“We deliver to a widening circle of suburbs in and around Johannesburg, and plan to continue growing our footprint in Gauteng initially, and then naturally, we would like to follow a similar rollout in the other major centres around South Africa.

“SOLshop simplifies the purchasing process through the user-friendly mobile application, and accepts card payments and transactions via a digital wallet.”

The in-house-developed SOLshop app is available in Android and app stores.