Bidorbuy is one of South Africa’s oldest and best-known ecommerce platforms and allows people to buy and sell virtually anything online.
Founded in 1999 as an online auction website, it has grown to become one of South Africa’s top online shopping destinations.
In a curious turn of events, its previous strength – acting as an independent ecommerce platform allowing independent merchants and buyers to conduct commerce – is now posing a challenge for the company.
Bidorbuy’s business model means its third-party sellers are responsible to send the products to clients.
This decentralised logistics model is attractive to Bidorbuy as it moves the heavy lifting – packing and shipping products – to the merchants.
The downside, however, is that buyers are not certain when, and even if, they will receive the products they have purchased.
Online shoppers rely on the Bidorbuy sellers to package and send the products they purchased quickly and offer a good overall experience. This does not always happen.
Takealot, in comparison, has invested heavily in building the best ecommerce logistics network in South Africa.
This investment included acquiring Mr Delivery in 2014 to give Takealot control over its own logistics network through the Takealot Delivery Team division – formerly Mr D Courier.
Takealot has centralised its marketplace logistics, which means shoppers who purchase a product through its platform receive a consistent experience, independent of the seller.
Whether you purchase products from Takealot or one of their merchant partners, the packing and shipping process is the same.
This centralised logistics model has helped Takealot to create a trusted experience for online shoppers and through this dominate the local online shopping market.
Bidorbuy case study
A recent order from one of MyBroadband’s staff members illustrates the challenge that Bidorbuy faces.
She purchased products from a Bidorbuy seller on 21 December, and the seller accepted the order the next day.
Since buying the product there has been no communication from the seller, and attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.
Two weeks after the order was placed, she contacted Bidorbuy to ask if there was a problem with the delivery.
Bidorbuy was very helpful and informed her that since the product was purchased from a verified seller there was buyer protection of up to R5,000.
They also escalated the issue, which should result in the order being processed and sent to her within the next three days.
Bidorbuy’s ecommerce platform works well and protects buyers, but the decentralised logistics model means people can still have a poor experience.
Unless Bidorbuy adapts a centralised logistics model for its marketplace, it will not be able to control the full customer experience.
The benefit of this open business model, which is akin to a classifieds site, is that people can find unique new and second-hand products which are not available on sites like Takealot.
Whether this will be enough to grow in a world where South Africans are used to excellent service levels from Takealot remains to be seen.