The geographic, logistical, and economic challenges of shipping hardware to sell in South Africa place the country’s tech enthusiasts in an interesting position.
Many of of these challenges can be and are regularly overcome to deliver the latest hardware to customers in line with international releases, while at other times South African consumers must wait a few months before the hardware arrives.
MyBroadband spoke to Syntech co-founder Ryan Martyn and managing director Craig Nowitz about the perception that these types of products take a while to get to South Africa.
“We were recently overseas at the Computex Expo in Taiwan,” said Nowitz.
“People often think products are not available in South Africa, but all of the top brands available world-wide are available here very quickly.”
“There’s no shortage of top brands or products here,” he said.
Economies of scale
Martyn told MyBroadband that South Africa has a lot of the hardware brands available overseas, although sometimes in smaller ranges.
“Sometimes distributors don’t carry the complete range, or a specific product may be available with a lead time,” he said.
“Getting hold of specific products is relatively easy, it may just take a little bit longer and sometimes at a slightly higher price point because we don’t have the economies of scale that Europe or the rest of the world does.”
Nowitz said that as soon as there is a product which is doing well, distributors rush to bring the brand to South Africa.
“Within a couple of months, the product will be available here through sub-distributors. Everyone is in the same position; everybody is looking at products to bring in,” he said.
“As soon as there is something great, then you have local distributors fighting to pick up the latest brands.”
The problem with marketplaces
It is becoming easier for South African consumers to access products from overseas via new or informal channels.
Martyn added that while access to great brands is great, if this access isn’t provided through a distributor, the experience will be far less enjoyable or more expensive in the long run.
“In addition to great products there needs to be exceptional service, local stock holding, support, market development, warranties, and the right sales channels if a brand is to be sustainable in South Africa,” he said.
“I think that one of the risks that we face in South Africa is people having access to all these new brands relatively easily through marketplaces and international e-commerce sites.”
“Many of these channels win business on price but consumers should still consider the total cost of ownership. Upfront savings normally require the suppler to compromise on the level of service, support and availability,” Martyn said.
Syntech has seen first-hand the results of brand which do not have economies of scale, the correct channels or the ability to support and hold sufficient stock.
“At the end of the day, experience is going to drive it back to some structure and some channels that really allow consumers to trust and ensure that if something does go wrong, that they’ve got the support behind the brand.”