Setting the scene for the future of eCommerce in Africa:

DHL eCommerce MoneyAfrica Confex establishes itself as the definitive African digital commerce industry gathering

The 4th Annual DHL eCommerce MoneyAfrica Conference & Exhibition was recently hosted at the brand new, green star-rated CTICC East Wing in Cape Town on 14 & 15 March 2018. Over the past four years, the event has quickly established itself as the largest gathering of eCommerce professionals on the continent. Following on the heels of South Africa’s surge in online purchasing over the past year, it comes as no surprise that more than 1000 attendees from across Africa congregated to share best practice case studies, and discuss the strategic roadmap to accelerating digital trade and commerce in Africa.

Setting the tone for the event was Chris Folayan, CEO of MallforAfrica – who delivered a powerful message to the audience; by clearing up a common misconception of businesses making the mistake of entering the African market and formulating strategies that are not distinguishable between countries “In Africa, every single country is different and you have to market differently; you have to think about each customers unique expectations, customers lifestyle and not focus on your product as the differentiator…there needs to be a mental shift and change in strategy that [businesses] need to follow in order to be successful in the eCommerce market in Africa” which has attracted a lot of attention globally due to the promise of exponential growth in the years to come as a result of African consumers becoming increasingly connected.

How to accelerate the development and sustainable growth of eCommerce through disruptive technologies was placed under the microscope by a power panel of experts representing some of the continent’s largest online retail and classifieds marketplaces. The panel which was moderated by Leonard Stiegeler, GM: Africa at Ringier kicked off with a highly stimulating discussion about how to create an environment that nurtures and empowers small-to-medium sized players to compete on a relatively equal footing with international and local players that are dominant.

Justin Clarke, Founder, Private Property & One Africa Media warned the audience against trying to copy/paste solutions to first world problems into markets that have very different needs, a sentiment shared by Mr. Folayan in his opening keynote. “Local entrepreneurs are moulded by eurocentric mentors and induced by owners of capital to compromise the local version of the solution in favour of best practice.”

A consistent theme that resonated with the panellists and specifically expounded upon by Kevin Tucker, Founder & CEO of PriceCheck, was how to hasten this growth, seeing as South Africa’s online retail sales haveconsistently hovered around 1% of total retail. Mr. Tucker elaborated on his point by posing the complex question to the audience of whether it’s possible to build on the momentum of 2017 Black Friday sales in South Africa; which was the fastest growth market in the world.

Thembani Biyam, Country Manager, South Africa of OLX cautioned the audience against the risk of online fraud as sales increase, and encouraged businesses to focus on enhancing their tech talent pools as a way to mitigate these risks when building a successful online company. Johan Nel, Director GM: Emerging Markets Classifieds at eBay encouraged the industry to look at future technology such as artificial intelligence as a counteractive tool to increasing threats faced by merchants in the digital commerce industry.

The anxiety caused by the issue of trust and security as it relates to sales conversions in eCommerce became a clear theme for most presenters over the two days of the event with Dylan Piatti, Africa C&IP Senior Chief of Staff & Chairman of the eCommerce Forum providing an elaborative point; “when it comes to eCommerce; consumers will try purchasing something internationally first before using a local ecommerce vendor. That just shows in terms of South Africa and the continent – we have to move consumers beyond this concept of “I’m not going to get what I paid for”.

This was a sentiment shared by Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships and Emerging Payments at VISAConsumers not feeling 100% secure to shop online; there are still issues of payment declines and so a lot of alternative payment solutions are now entering the market, there are just too many options yet there’s still a lot of friction..the challenge is how to create a frictionless process and make it as easy as swiping your finger to complete a transaction”.

Robust conversation and topical panel discussions were the order of the day with attendees having the opportunity to explore the entire eCommerce ecosystem, not only in terms of content in the main conference hall, but also through interactive tech demonstrations and masterclasses hosted on the expo floor. With a global audience of representatives from over twenty-five countries and the compliment of sponsors from across the industry, the event has affirmed its position as the only eCommerce event you would need to attend in order increase the prospect of success and growth in an increasingly competitive market.

As the eCommerce industry in South Africa continues to show exponential growth, it has become paramount to ensure that this type of explosive growth is replicated across the continent in order to create a sustainable industry. With this in mind, Kinetic is committed to strengthening the industry across the African continent through our involvement as a key information provider and business facilitator as well as through our partnership with the likes of DHL, the 2018 event title sponsor “ says Terry Southam, Co-Founder & Joint Managing Director, of Kinetic – the conference organisers.

“The partnership between DHL and the eCommerce MoneyAfrica Confex stemmed from the great synergy in our objectives. ‘Brand Africa’ has become increasingly popular across the globe and we’re thrilled to work with thousands of customers across the continent, helping them expand their brand across borders.” adds Megan Roper, Head of Marketing for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The future of eCommerce in Africa looks brighter, which is the driving force behind MoneyAfrica branching out as an independent event, to ensure that eCommerceAfrica remains true to its core identity -100% eCommerce, 100% of the time” states Sebastian Gazi, Conference Producer at Kinetic.

The eCommerceAfrica Confex continues to develop unique business platforms that endeavour to enrich the expanding eCommerce community – through encouraging collaboration, out-of-the-box thinking and bold investments that will nurture this growing industry and ensure its long term growth and sustainability.

Follow @eCommerceConfex on Twitter and join the conversation using the #ECMA18 hashtag.

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