Posts tagged ‘seth godin’

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