Niche South African eCommerce players are popping up everywhere

A little over a year ago I wrote about the online shopping / eCommerce market finally starting to come of age. Since then the market has grown at an ever increasing pace.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of brilliant independents businesses like Yuppiechef and plucky start-ups like Nic Socks. These are world-class ideas and, more importantly, world-class executions. I’m also impressed - at least superficially - by some of the bigger, corporate-backed players like Spree, Mr Price and Woolworths committing to online shopping in a way most of their competitors are too ignorant or hidebound to emulate.

I’m not saying any of the above are flawless (except perhaps Yuppiechef - never had a single niggle with them) but they are huge leaps forward by comparison with just five years ago. Now I’m seeing a whole new crop of niche players getting into the market, which is exciting and so good for the industry as a whole.

Take GuyBox - a really simple but clever little idea for an online shopping service. Buying basics like deodorant and undies is boring and - in the case of condoms - can be slightly uncomfortable. So, these guys will do it for you. I have some small niggles with the service, for instance it would be nice to have a selection of certain items - deodorants and condoms spring to mind - rather than opting for a generic choice, but the basic idea is solid and (I believe) has legs.

Skinny laMinx is decidedly NOT a newcomer to online shopping but it is niche, local and worth celebrating. The amazing Heather Moore has been selling her beautiful designs under this whimsical brand on the Etsy platform for many years now. But her growing success on Etsy has prompted her to open a physical shop in Cape Town as well as a local online store where you can pay in Rands. If you haven’t heard of Heather or Skinny laMinx, do yourself a favour and check it our - she’s a unique talent and all her wares are as beautifully made as they are designed.

Speaking of beautiful designs, Hello Pretty has been around for over 18 months, but it’s going from strength to strength. The idea of a well-curated marketplace for local designs isn’t new, but they do it very well. They’ve also recently launched a new market to cater to a masculine audience called Hello Man.

That Little Shop is another brilliant local start up that focusses on décor for weddings and events. Weddings are a huge and growing industry and finding high quality décor items can be a pain. I think it’s such a clever little niche and I hope they do very well. Full disclosure: I worked with one of the founders - Mika Stuttaford - but I would have written about this little gem either way.

There are probably two dozen other examples like the ones above. I’d love to hear other suggestions from you guys in the comments - I’m happy to cover other interesting local businesses in a follow-up post.