Shopstar – the SA-developed e-commerce platform – is a real toddler now….and has come a long way since the Beta Version went live in May 2013 with the first shop Dear Rae Jewellery.
Today Shopstar has more than 2600 registered shops – many major creative brands, as well as start-ups from a wide range of industries. Last year the combined turnover of these shops exceeded R10-million.
Shopstar is part of Knife Capitals 2015 Grindstone Accelerator programme, the youngest company among 13 startups to have been chosen for this year-long programme.
Says MD Jens Herf: “We are launching a number of exciting new features in the next quarter. This year Shopstar will focus on the integration of social media to provide more credibility to the shopper and create traffic for stores. The concept is based on the growing trend of the trust economies such as AirBnB and Uber.
“This will allow Shopstar shops to build stronger digital communities and marketplaces around their brands. It is an optimisation of the real world in the digital realm.”
In 2014 Shopstar was one of the WDC2014 projects # 290. Other milestones during last year included:
One of three start-ups to receive an investment offer at SparkUp! Live
Part of Seedstars Cape Town and “Get in the Ring”
Topic of a 3-month study by MBA students of the UCT Graduate School of Business (which was awarded top GSB project of 2014)
Part of the Microsoft BizSpark programme
One of the 3 winners at the 2014 Tech4Africa IBM SmartCamp
One of the 25 finalists at PricewaterhouseCoopers Vision to Reality Awards
Says Herf: “We at Shopstar aim to play a role in the growth of e-commerce in SA. To gain a better understanding of how e-commerce fits into the retail space in South Africa, we have worked very closely with our clients.
“We believe the growth of e-commerce for smaller businesses is not so much about teaching people about shopping online, but rather building tools which will assist the shopper in a better buying experience. These experiences include finding the right products, trusting the brand they engage with and combining online with offline.
“By building technology to facilitate this we are providing smaller retailers with a product which assist them in embracing commerce online and offline more effectively. This leads to more and more retailers setting up with and selling through Shopstar – generating growth in the e-commerce space.
“At Shopstar our focus is not to just blindly develop technology. As our client base grows we are spending more and more time looking at how our merchants operate in the physical and virtual space. By taking this approach we are developing systems which assist our merchants on various levels and are helping them with the implementation of processes which structure and optimise their workflow.
“At the end of the day technology only optimises what we do. This approach has already allowed us to see many of our clients double and triple their turn-over in the last months.”
Shopstars target audience are SMEs who sell products. Most of Shopstars clients are in the design sector, fashion, jewellery, leather goods, furniture, etc.
In an effort to educate designers and creative about e-commerce, Shopstar regularly presents talks at a number of e-commerce and design events, as well as to CPUT design students. Shopstar also runs workshops with the Cape Craft & Design Institute and free breakfast E-chats on topics such as legal matters, social media, marketing, e-commerce trends, convergence of physical and online retailing, payment gateways and consumer buying behaviour.