E-commerce / Online Stores

E-commerce Consulting Agency | Online Business Consultant | Ecommerce Experts Africa

Marked by a high rate of urbanisation, improving GDPs, increasing spending power, deeper infiltration of technology, the emergence of eCommerce platforms, and shift in customer behaviour towards online shopping, we can only say that this is only the beginning of the eCommerce revolution in Africa. And if you look closely, the reasons are not different from what they are for any other part of the world. Once the drive and conditions are met, one can bet on customers embracing online shopping.

While the developments may vary across regions and brick & mortar holding the majority share of the retail market the general trend points at rising eCommerce. South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya lead the B2C eCommerce race in Africa. Jumia (Nigeria), Takealot (South Africa), and Kilimall (Kenya) are some of the biggest players in the region. Some of the high-selling product categories include fashion and accessories, electrical appliances, electronic goods, fitness equipment, luxury products like jewellery, etc.

As a provider of retail and eCommerce online business consulting services, it is also our prerogative to highlight the not-so-green side of doing eCommerce business in Africa. Logistics, infrastructure, and technology are yet to attain maturity in many African countries. These factors are critical for seeding eCommerce. Let us elaborate on the challenges next.

Challenges in doing eCommerce Business in Africa

Reading the success stories of African eCommerce players is one thing and running an legit online business in Africa is quite another. The challenges can be unique for doing business in Africa especially if we talk about eCommerce that demands many modern-day requirements. We have highlighted a few challenges that should interest eCommerce businessmen and entrepreneurs.


Authentic, ethical, and value-based leadership is a highly sought-after attribute in business leaders. To own and run a business means you will be leading a team of competent professionals who in turn will lead their respective departments and teams. At the pinnacle, you are no less than a role model and a trendsetter for the rest of the organization. In Africa, this could be a more basic expectation than you might imagine.

Logistics and Infrastructure

Adequate logistics and infrastructure is a major concern for eCommerce players in Africa where many countries lag behind a few of their counterparts. Across the supply chain, logistics and transportation network play a vital role in the movement of inventory from source to destination. In the absence of a robust logistical environment, order procurement and fulfilment becomes a painful task for businesses, let alone make delivery promises to customers. Even warehousing and distribution centres play a role of equal importance in storage and order fulfilment. Without an efficient ecosystem of logistics and infrastructure, even a high rate of mobile and internet penetration cannot provide sustainability to eCommerce. As an e-commerce consulting agency, we provide logistics and supply chain management consulting, which will enable you to develop a proper logistic channel.

Low Internet Usage

According to the World Economic Forum, the major reasons for low internet usage in many countries in Africa are affordability, lack of adequate digital literacy, absence of content localization. The cost of handsets and internet subscription plans are still unaffordable to many people in different regions. In many regions, there is a lack of sufficient digital literacy. Coming to content, Africa is a land of linguistic diversity. If users in a region are not provided with the relevant language options, an eCommerce site is as good as useless to them.

A shade of Apprehension towards Online Shopping and Payments

Stemming from low banking inclusion and low internet usage is unfamiliarity and reluctance among people towards online shopping and use of online payment methods. This phenomenon holds for many less-developed regions. And it is quite natural and similar to asking if you would take a new vaccine that has been developed cutting short the process of vaccine development? There will be so many answers and assurances we may seek for that.

ECommerce Niche for Market Position

At a time when eCommerce in South Africa and EMEA regions are growing, there is also a steady increase in the number of eCommerce players. The success of other eCommerce players further validates the aspirations of the emerging eCommerce startups. In countries, where eCommerce has already found its roots or are beginning to, ‘market follower’ may not be a good competitive strategy. In emerging markets, businesses should go for market leadership. And in competitive markets, building a niche is a more sustainable strategy. For startups, entering new markets via proven routes like the Amazon retail business model but even then they need to develop strong UVP to sustain in the online marketplace platforms.

How YRC can help: a Glimpse

In eCommerce business consulting, we endeavour to help our clients build a strategic, agile, and growth-oriented eCommerce enterprise for the African retail market. YRC’s Ecommerce Business Consultants shall not be limited to making assessments and planning and strategy formulation but also cover defining and mapping the eCommerce operations of your retail venture.

As an ecommerce consulting agency, we will guide you through the process of building the right online retail model and formulating effective eCommerce strategies for your business. YRC’s Online Business Consultants shall identify your business niche and value proposition and define the required strategic framework of capabilities.

Through eCommerce Business Consulting, We will help you map the eCommerce retail financial model for your business that will enable you to foresee the financial viability of your project and forecast ROI and break-even. This will give you the financial vision and preparedness necessary to make important business and financial decisions before as well as after launching a business.

Like financial planning, planning for the organization is also as important. We will define the organization structure for your eCommerce venture, identify and define the required roles and positions for running the business effectively, carry out job analysis, and map the KRAs and KPIs for each position.

The website and the mobile application are the most important customer touchpoints for an eCommerce entity. Considering the industry standards, competition, and customers’ needs and expectations, our experts shall identify the critical requirements for your eCommerce website/app in terms of back-end IT, UX and user journey, language support, etc.

When it comes to managing eCommerce operations, businesses must be ready to handle hundreds and thousands of orders every day. This means the organization spins at a faster rate. This is not just a logistical challenge but also requires meticulous operational planning. YRC’s Online Business Consulting Services will help define the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for your eCommerce enterprise for the core and support processes like sourcing, warehousing, order fulfilment, inventory management, CRM, HR, finance, etc.

Ensuring a robust digital presence and visibility is a critical marketing requirement for an eCommerce brand preceded by a simple notion that we water where the plants are. With people spending more and more time being online, that is where eCommerce brands put their advertising efforts. From Ecommerce inventory management and brand reputation management to Customer Care, YRC’s team of eCommerce consultants will help you craft the right ecommerce strategies for your target audience. Our ecommerce experts in South Africa and EMEA region provide a customized eCommerce marketing strategy for the growth of your legit online business in Africa.


We are a boutique retail consulting firm. To learn more about our eCommerce consulting services or “how to run a successful ecommerce business?”, drop us a message and we will get back to you.


How to start an online business in Africa?

If you’re exploring how to start an ecommerce business in Africa or the EMEA region, YRC ecommerce experts are here to provide you with comprehensive insights. With over a decade of experience in e-commerce consulting, our experts have identified key prerequisites for launching a successful online business, as follows:

1. E-commerce Business Idea Validation: In the online business world, regional boundaries dissolve, making every company, big or small, a potential competitor. To stand out, it’s crucial to carve a niche and offer something unique. Conduct thorough market research to validate your business idea and understand customer preferences.

2. Financial Planning: Develop a comprehensive financial plan that encompasses capital expenditure (CAPEX), operational expenses (OPEX), return on investment (ROI), and the breakeven period. Many e-commerce businesses fail due to inadequate planning and underestimating required investments. Seek guidance from experts to avoid pitfalls.

3. Efficient Systems and Processes: Positive customer reviews drive online sales. Build a strong customer service team to handle inquiries related to orders, delivery, returns, and refunds. Well-defined standard operating procedures (SOPs) and software integration are crucial for smooth operations and organizational efficiency.

4. Sales & Marketing Strategy: Craft a solid sales and marketing strategy tailored to the digital landscape. Online buying behaviour evolves rapidly, so it’s essential to adapt and effectively target your audience. A well-executed strategy ensures brand success and accelerates the breakeven period.

5. Website Development: Choosing the right platform, integrating necessary software, and implementing effective inventory management across various channels are vital considerations. Seek guidance to navigate the complexities of website development.

If you’re still seeking guidance on how to start an online business in South Africa or the EMEA region, feel free to contact our team of experts to help you kickstart your online journey. 

How much does it cost to start an ecommerce business?

Starting an ecommerce business is a popular venture nowadays. It can be a lucrative business if done properly, but the cost to launch the store may vary depending on several factors. Here are the key expenses to consider:

Website Platform and Features: The cost of website development can vary depending on the platform and features you choose.

Inventory Investment: You will need to invest in purchasing or creating the products that you will sell.

Brand TradeMark & Company Registration: Registering your business and trademarking your brand is important for legal protection and credibility.

Photography: Good product photography is important for attracting customers and showcasing your products.

Content Writing for Product Catalogue, Website and Blogs: Well-written product descriptions and blog content are essential for engaging customers.

Hosting & Security: You will need to pay for hosting and security measures to protect your website and customers’ data.

Website Maintenance: Regular website maintenance is crucial to ensure smooth operation and prevent technical issues.

Staff & Agencies: You may need to hire staff or outsource tasks to agencies for customer service, marketing, and other business functions.

Digital Marketing: Digital marketing is necessary to attract customers and increase sales, and the cost can vary based on the channels you choose.

Last Mile Delivery (especially returns): Shipping and returns can be costly, so it’s important to factor in these expenses.

Overall, the cost to start an ecommerce business can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands, depending on the scale and complexity of the operation. It’s important to carefully plan and budget for all expenses to ensure a successful launch and sustainable growth.


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