- Company name: Shelf Life
- Spokesperson: Nick Herbert, owner
- HQ: Cape Town, South Africa
- Industry:Retail & eCommerce
- Website: shelflife.co.za
When you can corner a premium global market from the southern tip of Africa, you don’t need much more evidence about the Internet’s power to make the world a smaller place.
This is exactly what Shelf Life has done. The streetwear and sneaker store started life as a bricks-and-mortar shop – based in Cape Town’s Longmarket Street – in 2006. It added an eCommerce channel in 2009, introducing PayPal, the safer, easier way to pay and get paid online, during a site revamp in 2012. Today, it is one of a handful of suppliers around the world of limited edition sneakers from brands such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, New Balance and Asics.
When as few as 300 pairs of exclusive collectors’ item brands might be released globally, Shelf Life has real life customers queuing overnight outside its store to get their hands on the sneakers. Online, customers do the same, setting up alerts and automated bots to tell them when gear is launched.
However, savvy customers want to be sure they are buying the real deal, especially online. They often wait for months for new releases and, with limited edition sneakers retailing for up to R4 000 plus the bragging rights of owning a pair, trust and security are essential when selling these products online.
Peace of Mind
This is where PayPal comes in. When the Shelf Life online store was revamped in 2012, PayPal was a key building block in not only allowing company to sell to a global audience, but also, thanks to PayPal’s Buyer Protection, giving customers the peace of mind that if anything did go wrong, their eligible purchases are protected.
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Of course, Nick Herbert, owner of Shelf Life, and his team pride themselves on only supplying 100% authentic sneakers. They undertake to personally inspect each item before it is shipped to ensure quality and customer satisfaction. In addition, however, PayPal’s Buyer Protection gives customers around the world extra layer of protection when purchasing such in-demand, premier products from a country they might never have visited.
“We stake our reputation on the authenticity of our sneakers,” said Herbert. “PayPal’s Buyer Protection is a way to prove that to our customers: if they don’t get what they ordered, PayPal can help them to get their money back. This gives them the confidence to buy from us.”
PayPal is also easier to use, and saves time as there is no need to retype the financial information that is already stored in the account, which is important when customers are working against the clock to ensure they get the right product in the right size.
“PayPal is simply the easiest way to make a payment online,” says Herbert. “Many of our customers only use PayPal for international payments, so we would lose foreign customers if we didn’t offer it.”
“Repeat business using PayPal also shows it works and that our customers are happy.”
PayPal also offers Shelf Life, a rapidly growing small business, several advantages. For a start, payments with PayPal can be made and accepted in most major currencies, making it very easier to deal with international customers. Also, the withdraw service is available for all merchants, even those who don’t bank with FNB.
Thanks to the bank-managed withdraw service offered by FNB, South African individuals and sellers can withdraw their funds from their verified PayPal account to any qualifying South African bank account, while shoppers can top up funds to their PayPal account if they are FNB customers.
According to Herbert, using PayPal also helps to protect the company from the credit card fraud it had previously experienced thanks to PayPal’s sophisticated fraud prevention tools. Finally, PayPal and Shelf Life’s accounting software programmes are compatible, further saving the company time and money on administration.
Shelf Life’s Nick Herbert loves PayPal because:
- It’s more secure
- It’s easier to use
- Customers expect it
- It makes outgoing foreign payments easier
- It helps build trust in the authenticity of Shelf Life’s products
- It can help boost online sales
What’s Next for Shelf Life and PayPal?
Local business is thriving, thanks to the sneaker culture gaining a foothold in South Africa over the past few years. Online sales still remain strong – this channel is both more profitable and allows Shelf Life to tap into a truly global market. Locally, Herbert is looking at a second bricks-and-mortar store, and is sourcing additional brands to meet demand both here and around the world, online.
To learn more about how PayPal can help your business sell more – and connect with your customers wherever they shop – go to paypal.com/za
 Conditions apply. Please check PayPal User Agreement.