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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?
A guest post by @Mia_Tessy
Let me take you back in time for a little context. During December I did a 35 day tour of Inida and it was amazing and truly an eye opener. India is beautiful, in more ways than you can imagine. The scenery in India is breath-taking, from the famous Taj Mahal to the freezing mountain tops in Kashmir. Then there’s the Indian food, that is literally everywhere you look and has your mouth watering 24/7.
Based on that description, anyone would go to India in a heartbeat. But that’s the thing, no one ever mentions the not so attractive side to India. For starters, there’s the pollution and it’s everywhere! The streets are filled with rubbish, to a degree that leaves you feeling uncomfortable and in desperate need of a shower. Caused by rubbish, I would assume, is a foul smell lurking in the air that makes you not want to take another breath. Then there’s the dogs, millions of abandoned and malnourished dogs that are in every street, of every town I visited. Not only were the dogs homeless, but almost half of them looked sickly.
Dogs. You either love them, or hate them. There’s no in-between, that’s just how it is. I love dogs, and seeing those dogs in India was heartbreaking. There were so many of them, and there was nothing I could do to help, which brings me back to the reason I’m writing this blog post. What if there is something you could do?
Project Juno, a campaign launched by Pedigree is what got my attention. The campaign aims to highlight the importance of food to a dog, more importantly nourishing food. There’re doing this by documenting the the journey of an abandoned and malnourished dog, and showing this to South Africa in hope to make a difference and help the dogs that need it.
Juno was an abandoned and malnourished dog that was brought to the Woodrock Animal Shelter. She probably weighed about 7-8kg, her bones were visible, hair-loss on her ears and tail and most of all, she looked sad. Only the dog lovers out there will understand the last part.
Pedigree then partnered with the Shelter and gave Juno a home, nutritious food and a family. Every week development was seen in Juno, from the way she looked to the way she behaved.
Not only is Juno now deemed as a healthy dog, but she has gained a level of confidence in herself that speaks mountains. But the journey hasn’t ended yet, the shelter not only nourishes the dogs, but also finds them a home and family that will look after them and make sure they live a happy and healthy life.
I could only imagine the difference an initiative like this could make in India. But that’s it right there, it’s something. There’s always something you can do to better a bad situation. All it takes is an idea and of course a little financial back-up wouldn’t hurt. It’s that simple.
So, the guys over at M-Net Movies Family are running a competition to find South Africa’s most fancy dog. When i first heard about this competition i was confused to be honest – because we all know that my Bulldog Tyson is the king of being fabulous. Right?
Apparently not. Apparently there are more fancy dogs out there. Say WHAT!?
Then i though to myself, maybe this is the perfect opportunity to let another dog shine, a chance for Tyson to inspire other dogs around South Africa. To take some of those positive vibes from M-Net Movies Family and share them with you and your furry friends. I got Tyson to share a few tips below, for those of you looking to enter the M-Net Movies Ambassadoggy competition.
1. It doesn’t matter where you go, what matters is that you go there in a convertible.
2. As an English Bulldog, sometimes you have to work a little harder to blend into SA.
3. If you’re struggling to blend in, try a disguise. Possibly an Engrish Bulldog?
4. If you (as a dog) get invited to a kids party you should hide!
5. Not hiding leads to this…
6. Claim any bed, bought for any animal in the house, no matter the size.
7. Because after a day of crime fighting, you’ll need it!
It’s no secret how much I love my bulldog, none at all.
But what this campaign has taught me is that there are other crazy dog people, just like me, out there in SA!
Don’t believe me? Check out this video made by Derick Watts and the Sunday Blues. This marked the launch of the ambassadoggy campaign.
So if you have a dog that has what it takes to be adorable, entertaining and adventurous, help him or her become an Ambassadoggy! M-Net Movies wants to see your pooch showing off its personality to stand a chance to be the face of M-Net Movies Family. The contest gives your dog the opportunity of a lifetime, not to mention the unbelievable prizes up for grabs for you. Whilst you walk your doggy along the path of fame, you could win big! A flat screen TV, a DStv Explora decoder and a pampering voucher for your pooch. The runner up will win a DStv Explora decoder.
Having an awesome dog is something I’m no stranger to, obviously, and I am so keen to see how other dogs handle the spotlight. As a member of the judging panel, we have the enviable task of going through all of the entries and narrowing them down to our top five. After we have a top five, the public gets a chance to get in on the action by voting who they think is the cutest, smartest and most entertaining furry best friend to be the face of the channel.
So what are you waiting for? Enter your dog here and prepare to be the proud owner of a real life ambassadoggy!
The grand prize winner will be announced on 27 May 2015, and be required to be available for a session with the Puparazzi and to sign pawtographs from the following week.
Follow @mnetmovies on Twitter for all the scoop.