The Foschini Group’s (TFG) eCommerce platform, Bash, officially launched on 20 February, and co-founder Claude Hanan believes the platform will change online shopping as South Africans know it.
Bash is a product developed by TFGLabs, a start-up created inside TFG, a multinational conglomerate and South Africa’s largest fashion retailer.
While Bash has been in beta since July 2022, the platform officially launched today.
TFGLabs was mandated to spearhead the brand’s digital transformation and make it one of the biggest and most profitable eCommerce destinations on the continent.
Their answer to this mandate was Bash, an eCommerce and consumer-facing brand platform.
Hanan told Daily Investor that the way through which they want to achieve their goals is to start by focusing on “eCommerce 101”.
Hanan and Bash co-founder Luke Jedeiken founded Superbalist, which was sold to Takealot. They served as Takealot executives during the company’s “glory years” when eCommerce was taking off in South Africa.
According to Hanan, Bash was founded because TFG did not want to run the risk of not modernising, digitising, or innovating its brand.
While many eCommerce platforms in South Africa already occupy a large part of the market, Hanan believes that only a few provide worthwhile services to its customers.
By focusing on the fundamentals of eCommerce, Bash hopes to do exactly that and hold its own in the crowded eCommerce space, said Hanan.
Bash offers its users scale and choice, as they can use it as a “one-stop shop” for hundreds of brands that are part of the TFG group.
Bash already has an advantage in this regard, as TFG has a “large number of retailers to plug into the platform”.
It also focuses on being in charge of end-to-end operations, meaning it owns the coveted “last mile” of its process by both selling and delivering the products sold on the platform.
The development of Bash is largely data-driven, and many of the decisions related to the platform are made by looking at data from other successful companies.
Another priority for Bash is the quality of its application.
The eCommerce world, particularly in South Africa, is application-dominant, and Bash, therefore, prioritised having a slick app with a good user experience, design, and branding.
To accomplish this, Bash made use of an in-house development team rather than relying on third-party developers who “have no stake in the company”.
“At the moment, we have a team of 200 people who want this business to succeed,” he said. “You can’t outsource a core competency. Would a physical retailer ever outsource buying?” Hannan said.
Bash also hopes to compete by leveraging the relationship that already exists with its TFG user base and expanding it through good customer service and consistent communication.
“No retailer has managed to talk to its user base in the way that we plan to,” said Hanan.
Hanan highlighted that this process was neither easy nor cheap.
“It’s expensive – you have to divest from the old and invest in the new, which not a lot of people are willing to do,” he said. “But the upside across a myriad of metrics justifies this investment,” he adds.
He also mentioned the difficulty in finding the right people to help Bash reach its potential. In South Africa, this process is particularly difficult because many of the top talents emigrate to other countries.
A part of Bash’s mission is, therefore, to give people a reason to stay in South Africa by providing a local equivalent to the high-calibre, high-performance environment one might find overseas.
Hanan told Daily Investor that, while they are aware of Amazon’s plans to come to South Africa and the potential threat that poses, it is prepared to take on the eCommerce giant.
“We back ourselves – we’ll get into the ring with them. We simply have to be better,” he said.