Success story: Soviet

Soviet Denim is taking it back to the streets with their edgy denim styles – and that includes the street that you live on. When they were looking for a fulfilment star, they chose Bob Go. Read their story:

Why and how you did you start selling the goods you sell?

The decision was made to launch an online store to more firmly establish a digital presence, offer customers more channels through which to purchase Soviet-branded merchandise, move the retail part of the business into a multi-channel environment, market the brand directly with more control, and increase sales by adding another sales channel.

What did you find was the easiest or simplest part of getting started online?

Using an all-in-one ecommerce platform that includes shopping cart, inventory, and payment options, and ensuring that all these processes sync and integrate flawlessly.

Thinking back, how did you approach the task of online marketing and what resources do you use nowadays for inspiration or functionality?

Over the past few years, a combination of an inhouse marketing team and outsourced specialists have been used in conjunction with an inhouse ecommerce operations team. Several years down the line, the key takeaway is that the ideal mix is dependent on inhouse capabilities and resources, budget, and understanding your market, as well as your needs as an online seller.  

Which platforms would you recommend for ecommerce, accounting, shipping, marketing (etc) and how do you stick it all together?

For ecommerce we use Shopify. For shipping we use Bob Go (formerly uAfrica), as a courier aggregator. For marketing, we use a combination of applications and platforms based on our target market and our needs, being cognisant of budget. We remain aware of the imperative to have a healthy digital ecosystem (yes, I do cringe when I use that industry lingo!), meaning that each digital tool meaningfully compliments and augments the entire ecommerce infrastructure.

What would you say are the current pitfalls of starting an online business in South Africa?

1. Loadshedding is a frustration for a business that requires connectivity.
2. Trust in online payment gateways (South Africans still like tactile shopping experiences).
3. A lack of understanding of how all the different tools, applications, plug-ins, and service providers fit in to the holistic ecommerce operating environment.
4. Underestimating the value that carefully selected outsourced technical expertise can add to your business success.

What, in your view, is the thing holding most companies back when trying to decide whether to sell online or in a traditional bricks and mortar store?

The daunting spectre of the digital realm’s technical aspect and the rapidly evolving sphere of ecommerce. Things can get very technical very quickly, especially when something goes wrong from an integration perspective.

Moving on to Bob Go now – how long have you been a Bob Go merchant?

For about 4 years.

What is your favourite feature on Bob Go at the moment?

It’s plug-and-play. It integrates with our ecommerce platform, gives access to order and logistics data, and has a user interface that is easy to navigate.

What would you like to see on Bob Go that isn’t currently available?

1. Improved reporting functionality and easier access to bespoke data requirements.
2. Leveraging of Bob Go’s logistics experience to inform the seller’s boxing and packaging decisions. That is, using Bob Go’s extensive logistics experience to advise the seller about best practice. If the seller grows, so does the business with the service provider.
3. Being able to setup not just the default/preferred courier level (e.g. ECO vs OVN) but also the preferred courier company (e.g. The Courier Guy). This would mean we could fulfil the order straight from the orders window/section without clicking into the individual order itself.
4. Having a section where you can print all the confirmed waybills for the day, in bulk, in one go. Perhaps this function could amalgamate all the selected waybills into one document, essentially allowing you to print one document instead of each waybill individually.

What advice would you offer someone that is considering starting an online business in 2023.

Know your product; establish that your product can add value, due to either its grade or price (i.e. quality); engage with your target market.

 Express yourself through fashion – shop Soviet.