Takealot.com says it has seen huge demand on its platform for renewable energy systems and products to mitigate load-shedding, forcing the e-tailer to expand its product categories.
SA’s biggest online shopping site says since December 2020, it has had 3 000% gross merchandise value growth in the sales of generators, inverters and UPS devices.
Over the last few years, more South African businesses and homes have invested in renewable energy, to produce their own power, as the country continues to grapple with worsening load-shedding.
This has seen companies specialising in renewable energy systems − such as Schneider Electric, Huawei and Phelan Energy Group − report an upsurge in their renewable energy business as demand soars.
Takealot says over the past two years, it has nearly doubled the number of brands that offer load-shedding or power solutions on its platform, expanding its load-shedding contingency products offering by 40%.
“Our data tells an insightful story about how South Africans are becoming intentional in how they adjust to load-shedding,” says Frederik Zietsman, CEO of Takealot.com.
“On our platform, we’ve seen a surge in sales of load-shedding mitigation products, such as generators, inverters and uninterrupted power supply units. In fact, ‘UPS’ was the third most-searched term on the Takealot platform in 2022,” adds Zietsman.
Power banks and UPSes were in the top 10 most sold products in 2022. Other items that have seen huge demand include rechargeable light bulbs, solar street lights, solar panel charging systems, inverter set-ups and petrol generators.
The e-commerce site says it has made it easier for shoppers to decide which device best fits their need, through a virtual assistant.
The new chatbot guides shoppers through the buying process, providing load-shedding advice and tailoring product selections based on their specific needs and budget.
Takealot says it has also seen a 50% increase in the number of sellers that have introduced load-shedding products on its platform.
The Takealot Marketplace platform has also enabled the adoption of an always-on e-commerce platform for almost 8 000 SMEs that are able to trade regardless of load-shedding stages and location, it says.
The company, which has put contingency plans in place to avoid downtime during power cuts, says it has seen more sellers on its platform thrive and create jobs, despite them not having the same renewable energy resources to compete with bigger players in their market.
Over the past few months, e-commerce experts have been warning local e-tailers to put load-shedding contingency plans in place, to avoid the negative impact of power blackouts on their revenues.
“What we’ve seen on our marketplace is how the platform serves as a connector for businesses and consumers. The biggest reason this matters, in our view, is because it brings a greater sense of ease in doing business, and can also significantly decrease costs for everyone involved.
“If this opportunity is leveraged correctly, it could lead to solutions that empower consumers, businesses and the national economy,” says Zietsman.