Archive for February, 2016

Lego is awesome

I haven’t done a blog post about Lego in a while. So here you go!

Diana Prince in Disguise sawayabatmobile #1 Flash Forward

A local SA company powering ecommerce around the world, with PayPal

As a follow on from my last post I wanted to talk a bit more about WooCommerce. I touched on them in a blog post two weeks ago but I didn’t really get into the detail on why.

Why I think they have built something incredible, why their latest acquisition deal is an inspiration to entrepreneurs across Africa, and how (I think) they managed to achieve all this.

When you’re enabling the not-so-web savvy customers to venture into ecommerce, often for the first time, there are a number of things you need to get right from the start – but keeping their money secure is the first on the list. Thanks to their partnership with PayPal, these guys managed to take the most complex thing on the internet (payments) and make it simple for day-to-day people to process them. There really is no better business model than making something simple, and accessible for everyone to use.




That’s the thing about ecommerce, when moving over to that model your products can become available on an international scale. Naturally that makes payments a little more complicated, which is why using PayPal as a payment method on your e-store is worth a thought. Cross border payments are made simpler with PayPal that fully supports 26 currencies, is active in 203 markets and provide global reach of 173 million active accounts worldwide. In fact, in addition to making it simpler, offering PayPal payments can potentially increase your online sales due to the high usage and preference of PayPal, especially for international transaction. In a 2014 research by PayPal and Ipsos, it was found that on average, 63% of shoppers in 22 markets worldwide, use PayPal for their international transactions, compared to PayPal’s main competitor in the market[1].

We’re living in a digital world, and selling products online is slowly becoming a necessity for businesses. But ecommerce is not only for the corporate world, you and I can create an

online store on a blog or a fully developed website and sell anything we want to. Whether it be homemade jam, or handmade figurines of your favourite Marvel superheroes. For the big corporates a complicated cross border payment is easier, but for us regular people it can be more challenging.

WooCommerce speaks from experience. In 2014 they suffered a malicious hack that resulted in them moving all their payments to PayPal. They communicated this to their community – announcing their new found strength and security through the partnership, making PayPal not only available for their customers using their plug-ins, but also as their preferred payment method to accept their own payments online.

That brings me to my next point about partnerships. One thing I see most businesses struggling with is the fact they try to own everything. When I look at how WooCommerce expanded globally I wonder if that would be possible without partnerships. Like the PayPal partnership for example. Joel Bronkowski, business development manager at WooThemes (WooCommerce’s parent), said: “In many ways, it’s simply the standard for global electronic payments, if ease of use and quick payments is your thing.”


We live in a world where everything is fast-paced, and we expect everything to happen at the click of a button. If it doesn’t, we simply look for a faster alternative. That’s probably another reason why WooCommerce brought in PayPal for themselves and their customers. With PayPal’s Express Checkout, businesses have the flexibility to accept PayPal payments as well as credit and debit card payments. The product also offers a 3 click checkout experience for customers, significantly shorter than traditional checkouts, helping merchants minimise their churn rate and convert more users into customers.

Launched in 2011, WooCommerce has simply exploded, and there are currently 660,000+ sites around the world powered by WooCommerce, including our very own eStore!

What’s next for WooThemes and PayPal?

“In the same way that PayPal allows us to concentrate on what we are good at by taking care of our payments safely and securely, we want to simplify the process for our merchants to take their business online. We are working more closely than ever with PayPal to make it as easy as possible for our merchants to enable PayPal payments for their customers,” said Mark Forrester, WooThemes co-founder and CEO.

Well played Mark. You did SA proud!

Have questions? Contact PAYPAL

 [1] ‘Ipsos study for PayPal reveals opportunities and best practices for online merchants who want to grow their international business’, in ipsos MORI research publications. Viewed 22 December 2015,


From Longmarket Street To The World

[Sponsored by PayPal]

I really love nothing more than a South African success story. We’ve seen the rise (and even fall) of some great South African entrepreneurs. I often feel like we’re tucked away in the far corner of the earth, unnoticed by the hedge funds throwing money around at start-ups in Silicon Valley. But then stories like WooCommerce happen (recently purchased by the WordPress parent company) and it gives me hope. It reminds me that we’re just as smart, have just as much chance and can build companies just as big as the stories we read about in the press.

Part of the reason I’m so passionate about all this is because I’m completely obsessed with the internet, and the fact that it can give your local business the superhero powers it needs to go global. When you can corner a premium global market from the southern tip of Africa, you don’t need much more evidence about the internet’s power to make the world a smaller place.

For instance, did you know that there is a highly lucrative market selling limited edition sneakers around the world? And that one of the few suppliers of the most rare, and most sought after, kicks is Shelf Life, based in Cape Town?

Yep, it’s true. Starting out as a bricks and mortar store in 2006, Shelf Life expanded to reach a global audience via its ecommerce site in 2009. And it introduced PayPal as its payment system in 2012.

When as few as 300 pairs of exclusive collectors’ item brands might be released globally, Shelf Life has real life customers queuing overnight outside its Longmarket Street store to get their hands on the sneakers. Online customers do the same, setting up alerts and automated bots to tell them when gear is launched.

As you can imagine, with such exclusive merchandise, people want to know they are buying the real deal. When I launched the GeeksDoingStuff store last year that was something I had big issues with, buyers feeling secure that what I was selling was legit.

Side joke. If you haven’t seen Hot Rod you won’t get it 😉

This is where PayPal comes in. When the Shelf Life online store was revamped in 2012, they added something that would change their online business as they knew it – PayPal as an additional payment method.

We’re all a little scared to make that first online payment, but once we jump that hurdle, online shopping becomes more like an addiction, you can tell by the amount of times Shelf Life comes up in my browser history. It’s convenient and you’re always finding unique little items that you’d never find in-store.

Getting back to crossing over that first hurdle, there is often the fear that we’re not going to get what we ordered or that something is going to happen to your money.

“We stake our reputation on the authenticity of our sneakers,” said Nick Herbert, owner of Shelf Life. “PayPal’s Buyer Protection is a way to prove that to our customers: if they don’t get what they ordered, PayPal can help them to get their money back. This gives them the confidence to buy from us.”

That’s the thing with PayPal, it’s safe and secure to use and they are willing to go all out to make sure you get what you asked for. They have systems in place to stop fraudulent activity before criminals make their move – think of it like a chess game, where PayPal is the Global Chess Champion. With PayPal, that’s their winning move, constantly updating their security systems to the best that’s available at the time thereby ensuring that they are always one step ahead.

That’s it though, right? All we want is safety and security when doing online shopping. That’s why Shelf Life probably decided to add PayPal as a payment method, to guarantee their customers safety (as well their own), and ensure their experience is secure. PayPal are recognised as a secure method of payment on a global scale, that’s surely going to boost customers’ buying confidence. With PayPal, the seller, Shelf Life in this case, doesn’t even get to see your payment details.

So, what’s next for Shelf Life? Local business is thriving, thanks to the sneaker culture gaining a foothold in South Africa over the past few years. Online sales still remain strong – this channel is both more profitable and allows Shelf Life to tap into a truly global market.

I think this story is one that will inspire most local entrepreneurs looking to launch online businesses. PayPal with its Buyer Protection, is something I’ll definitely be implementing in my new venture – watch this space in the next few months 😉

There are companies all across South Africa doing amazing things with online partners like PayPal, who knows, yours could be next?

seth godin