Takealot challenger launches in South Africa — Bob Group

Bidorbuy and uAfrica have joined forces to create Bob Group — an all-in-one ecommerce marketplace in South Africa.

Bob Group offers a complete set of ecommerce services to merchants, including a marketplace, inventory management, order fulfilment, online payments, and courier software-as-a-service.

The new company has a decentralised logistics approach, allowing services to be priced more competitively.

Bidorbuy and uAfrica co-founder Andy Higgins will serve as managing director of Bob Group.

Higgins said they are more seller-friendly than their competitors without compromising service levels.

“Sellers can expect a more cost-effective offering based on intuitive, easy-to-use selling and fulfilment tools,” he said.

“Where previously we’ve focused exclusively on the marketplace, this amalgamation will allow us to provide merchant-empowering tools across all the sales channels they are active on, including their own websites and third-party channels.”

Higgins told MyBroadband that although the group will now comprise over 100 employees, they are returning to their startup roots.

“As such, we do not have C-suite level executives. I will be the group’s managing director, supported by an extremely competent management team,” he said.

Taking on Takealot

Bob Group is a competitor to Takealot’s marketplace, which dominates South Africa’s online shopping sector.

The most significant difference is that Takealot has a centralised logistics model, while Bob Group chose decentralised logistics.

Takealot manages a few large warehouses or distribution centres and ships orders from there.

In comparison, orders on the Bob Group’s marketplace are shipped directly from the seller to the buyer.

Bob Group also differs from Takealot in that it only supports third-party sales.

“Our main competitors also offer first-party sales where they compete against their own marketplace sellers,” Higgins said.

He said they anticipate the initial benefits to start with sellers and then filter through to consumers.

“By offering sellers better support, especially when it comes to logistics and more favourable fees, we believe these efficiencies will be passed on to shoppers,” he said.

Bob Group will offer several services to sellers, including:

  • A tool for merchants to synchronise products between their online store and Bidorbuy easily, and real-time updates to products and inventory
  • Shipping and tracking system
  • A payment facilitator giving merchants the ability to let buyers pay with their preferred payment option
  • Software-as-a-service providing technology for courier companies to run their entire business, including a driver app, customer and administration portals, and billing

By offering standardised payment and shipping options for all transactions, Bob Group believes it can provide buyers with a far more consistent experience.

Bob Group will use Amazon Web Services. It said this would ensure reliable, scalable, and secure ecommerce services.

“By geocoding addresses, Bob Group is facilitating more accurate and streamlined shipping,” it added.

Andy Higgins, Bob Group managing director and Bidorbuy and uAfrica co-founder

Entering the Ecommerce Thunderdome

Bob Group is taking on big global technology powerhouses, including Takealot, backed by Naspers; Makro, backed by Walmart; and soon Amazon.

It raises the question of why Higgins and his team are confident that they can compete against these ecommerce giants.

They believe South Africa is still in the early stages of an ecommerce revolution, with an estimated less than 3% of retail conducted online.

“By being local and agile, we intend to provide innovative solutions to merchants,” he said.

“We see the increased attention on ecommerce as a positive for the industry, enabling South Africa to play catch up, benefiting all local ecommerce players.”

Higgins said they would predominantly compete against these global players at a marketplace level but acknowledges that a well-established logistics network is crucial for success.

“We will, therefore, be leveraging uAfrica’s logistics expertise and invest in improving our logistics capability — both for the marketplace and to empower our merchants,” he said.

Now read: The fascinating story of how Andy Higgins saved Bidorbuy

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Takealot challenger launches in South Africa — Bob Group