Bidorbuy and uAfrica have joined forces to create Bob Group – an all-in-one eCommerce marketplace in South Africa.
Bob Group offers merchants a complete set of eCommerce services, including a marketplace, inventory management, order fulfilment, online payments, and courier software.
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.
Higgens told Daily Investor 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 biggest difference is that Takealot has a centralised logistics model, while Bob Group has a decentralised logistics.
It means that Takealot ships orders from a few large warehouses – or distribution centres – it manages.
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.
Entering an increasingly competitive market
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 to be successful.
“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.