With many physical retailers forced to close their doors due to the initial COVID-19 lockdown regulations, online shopping has boomed in South Africa.
A source close to South Africa’s biggest ecommerce retailer Takealot previously told MyBroadband the company was generating close to R1 billion in sales per month – around double its usual volume.
Online payment platform providers like PayGate and PayFast also confirmed they had observed a substantial increase in sales since unlimited ecommerce was allowed since the end of May.
The growth in ecommerce activity is likely to have a long-term impact on consumer habits, which means there may be more opportunities for smaller companies to stake their claim in the industry.
One such company is GeeWiz, an online retailer with a wide range of products including electronics and gadgets, computer hardware, inverters and backup power solutions, as well as security and CCTV equipment.
Judging by an average Hellopeter rating of 4.5 out of 5 and Google Reviews score of 4.6 out of 5, many customers have been pleased with the retailer’s service.
This is impressive compared with Takealot and Loot’s Hellopeter ratings of less than 2 out of 5.
MyBroadband spoke to GeeWiz directors Ari Oppenheimer and Pinni Goodman to hear how the company was expanding its tech selection and how it manages to keep customers happy.
Oppenheimer and Goodman started selling products through Bidorbuy while still in high school. They then operated an iPod store in their spare time during their studies in 2006.
Two years later, in September 2008, they officially launched geewiz.co.za, with some of their first products on offer being credit-card-sized digital cameras, Motorola two-way radios, and green laser pointers.
From then on, GeeWiz’s product selection has gradually been expanded from gadgets and tech to more general goods, particularly due to recent increases in user traffic.
“We make sure to constantly research the latest trending items, as well as provide an option to source niche items from overseas when requested by customers,” the company said.
GeeWiz’s most popular items include inverters and backup power solutions, smart home products, streaming sticks and boxes, as well as niche peripherals.
The company currently employs 27 staff members, with its own offices and adjacent warehouse on Corlett Drive in Johannesburg. It also has a separate dedicated space for assembling inverter kits.
Visitors to the premises can also take a look at GeeWiz’s showroom, which showcases some of its most popular products.
Bespoke service and one-day delivery
GeeWiz said it was not looking to take on South African ecommerce heavyweights at the moment.
“In an ideal world, we’d obviously love to scale and compete with the big ecommerce players,” the company noted.
“Currently though, our focus is to maintain the bespoke service that we’re very well known for,” it emphasised
It explained it differs from companies like Takealot in that its team possesses in-depth knowledge on the products they sell, allowing them to provide reliable after-sales support.
“We do our best to get to know the products that we sell, and whatever tech spec we don’t know, we’ll make sure to find out,” the company said.
This includes maintaining a two business hour response time for all queries, as well as an overnight delivery service and same day collection on the majority of its products.
“On most products, if an item is ordered before 10:00 AM, it’s delivered the next business day to main centres,” the company stated.
“Multiple drivers go back and forth daily to suppliers to make sure that we can have most products ready for our customer to be dispatched or collected on the very same day.”
For regional areas or larger items, delivery will take three to five business days, it added.
Putting delivery to the test
We decided to put GeeWiz’s promised delivery times to the test by ordering a replacement laptop charger and power cable.
Our order was placed on a weekday morning at around 9:00, after which we received emails confirming our order contents and payment.
Just before 16:00 in the afternoon we received another mail confirming that our package had been dispatched from GeeWiz to the courier, which meant it had been collected from the supplier.
We were then provided with a waybill tracking number and link for a delivery which was to be made by Globeflight.
The courier arrived at our address with the package at just after 11:37 in the morning on the next day.
The total price for the charging brick, power cable, and delivery amounted to R288.
The image below shows the progress on our delivery from when it was first ready for collection at GeeWiz’s warehouse to delivery at our address.
Bulk discounts and GeeBucks credit
Two particular unique elements we noticed on GeeWiz was the possibility of getting discounts on items when ordering in bulk, as well as a loyalty points system.
For example, buying a single Seagate Skyhawk 1TB SATA HDD would cost you R862.
Buying five or more, however, brings the price down to R828 per unit, a saving of 4%. A purchase of 10 or more drives would run at R810 per unit, a 6% decrease in price.
The GeeBucks system rewards customers with R1 credit for every R100 spent on the store. This credit can then be used towards future purchases.
We received R2 for our order value of R219.
Warranties on imported products
GeeWiz stocks both products sourced from local and imported products.
Consumers should always be aware of the type of warranties they can expect on imported goods, particularly those with little to no official local support.
In many instances, the onus may rest on the buyer to pay for shipping the device back to the manufacturer to be repaired or replaced.
GeeWiz’s imported products include devices like Google Home speakers and routers, Amazon Fire Sticks, and Nvidia Shield TVs.
GeeWiz said it offers after-sales support – which includes setup assistance – and warranties on all the products it sells.
“Since those items aren’t locally supported, we handle the full warranty process from our side,” the company said.
“We generally replace the product as soon as it is tested faulty, so there is very little downtime for our customers during a warranty claim,” it added.
The table below shows the prices of a selection of products available on GeeWiz.
|Computer hardware and peripherals|
|Intel Core i7-9700K 3.6GHz||R6,899|
|Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6GB GDDR5||R5,970|
|Mecer Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard with Touchpad||R463|
|Microsoft FTW-00001 Surface Precision Wireless Mouse||R2,499|
|Samsung 860 EVO 256GB 2.5-inch SATA SSD||R1,447|
|Transcend 8TB StoreJet 3.5-inch External HDD||R5,137|
|MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard||R3,972|
|Kingston 8GB DDR4 2,666MHz RAM||R755|
|Smart TV boxes and sticks|
|Amazon Fire TV Stick with remote (2nd gen)||R1,085|
|MyGica ATV495MAX Android TV Box||R940|
|MX10 Smart TV Box||R995|
|Nvidia Shield TV||R4,485|
|Nvidia Shield TV Pro||R6,485|
|Xiaomi Mi S 4K||R1,290|
|Xiaomi Mi TV Stick FHD||R895|
|Inverters, UPSs, and batteries|
|26650 Li-ion Rechargeable Battery 4,000mAh||R166|
|Discover AGM Traction Dry Cell 100Ah Deep Cycle Battery||R5,382|
|Eaton 5E 650i USB UPS||R770|
|Eaton 5E 2000i USB||R3,058|
|Mecer 1000VA Line Interactive UPS||R1,376|
|Mecer 2400VA Inverter Battery Charger||R2,746|
|RCT 850VA Line Interactive UPS||R888|
|Royal Delkor NS70 65AH 12V Battery||R1,795|
|Gadgets and electronics|
|DJI Mavic Air Pro Drone||R14,469|
|10mW Green Laser Pointer||R286|
|Polaroid PDE53H HD Dashcam||R884|
|Mouth Piece Alcohol Breathalyzer||R225|
|DigitalPersona U.are.U Fingerprint Reader||R1,516|
|Huntkey W01-220-02 Smart Energy Light||R163|
|Amazon Echo Dot Smart Speaker (3rd gen)||R995|
|Amazon Echo Smart Speaker (2nd gen)||R2,495|
|Apple HomePod Wireless Smart Home Music Speaker||R10,442|
|Google Home Mini Smart Speaker||R615|
|Google Home Smart Speaker||R1,885|
|Sonos One (gen 1) Smart Speaker||R6,090|