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Legwear Safari Founder Tracy Kruger’s Strategic Solutions To Starting a Successful E-Commerce Site

Tracy Kruger started an e-commerce site because she discovered that no one was selling what she was looking for locally. Having grabbed the opportunity, her business is going from strength to strength.

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Tracy Kruger
  • Company: Legwear Safari
  • Established: 2013
  • About: Legwear Safari is a South African company that sells superior quality legwear online.
  • Visit: legwearsafari.co.za

Starting a business is all about solving problems. There is the main problem, of course, the one that you’re trying to solve for the customer, but then there are also a host of other challenges that crop up as you grow your business. Launching her online business, Legwear Safari, Tracy Kruger faced many challenges. Here is how she solved them.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

Problem:

How do you find a concept that hasn’t been done to death already?

Solution:

For Tracy, it was all about solving a problem that she was experiencing herself as a consumer. The idea first came about when her husband Marius was looking for legwear to buy for her as a gift. There was nothing available that really suited her taste and style. “Everything was either very cheap or super-expensive. There was nothing for the average person. Also, there weren’t enough designs and colours to choose from. I’ve never been a black or beige person.”

Problem:

How do you create a sophisticated e-commerce site if you’re not a developer?

Solution:

These days, you can design some impressive websites yourself with the help of services like Squarespace. If you have time, patience and some solid computer and design knowledge, you could do it yourself. However Tracy opted for a professional design company. “With an e-commerce site, your website is everything, so it needs to look slick and professional. You can get a great site for around R20 000, and it’ll be a worthwhile investment. If you don’t want to pull the trigger too early, start by selling on Facebook, which is what I did.”

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

Problem:

With so many websites online, how do you prevent your store from disappearing?

Solution:

“You need to spend money,” says Tracy. “I underestimated just how hard it can be to get traffic to your site. Google and Facebook ads are crucial. You need a decent budget for this. You also need to be active on social media. When it comes to a fashion brand like Legwear Safari, Facebook and Instagram work really well.”

Problem:

With so many products available on the market, how do you know what to stock?

Solution:

Thanks to social media, customer discovery and market research is easier than ever. All you need is a poll on Facebook or Twitter. “People are very honest online. Face-to-face, people tend to be diplomatic. Ask a question on social media, though,  and you’ll get a very honest answer.”

Problem:

How do you go about finding suppliers?

Solution:

“When I first started, I tried to find local suppliers, but I was too small. No one was interested, so I ended up importing product from overseas suppliers. This is tricky, since you need to deal with customs and exchange rates. Controlling stock is also hard, since lead times are long. If possible, find a local supplier. I did eventually develop relationships with some great local suppliers. Be tenacious and keep at it until you get a foot in the door. If using an international supplier, find someone with experience who can help you deal with customs.”

Problem:

How do I grow my business and keep customers coming back?

Solution:

Asking customers to pay money through a website and simply trust you to deliver the goods isn’t easy. Many people are understandably reluctant, but the solution, says Tracy, is great customer service.

“Customer service is everything. You need to respond to queries quickly and efficiently. Also, find a dependable courier company, since they become an extension of your business. If they drop the ball, customers will blame you. Also, with solutions such as Sage Pay, I am able to access all payment information in one place and easily prevent and detect fraudulent activity.”

Sage specialises in accounting and business management software development aimed at small and medium sized business, although we do offer expertise and business solutions for larger businesses. Over the past twenty years Sage has become a local leader in business software solutions backed by the strength of the global Sage brand.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

Alfa Romeo

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Enhance Your Entrepreneurial Flair With An Online Postgraduate Diploma From The University Of Pretoria

The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

Dr Alex Antonites

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The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

The programme content focuses on the start-up processes, creativity and opportunity recognition, business planning and marketing as well as financial management. Furthermore, the programme emphasises entrepreneurial growth and small business policy development with relevance to the enabling environment.

Who should enrol?

The programme is designed for pre-, nascent and start-up entrepreneurs who want to attain an advanced degree in entrepreneurship. It is also intended for individuals who work in an entrepreneurial environment and are involved with small business policy development. Although many students in the programme have academic credentials in entrepreneurship or business management, the programme is also appropriate if your education and/or experience may be in other disciplines (e.g. engineering or medicine).

Admission requirements

A relevant bachelor’s degree.

Related: This Enterprises UP Expert Explains Why Start-Ups Really Fail

Additional programme information

The duration of the course is one year. The language of tuition is English and the course will be presented in two blocks by means of the blended learning method (70% online and 30% contact sessions). Students need continuous access to the internet to complete the course.

Course Contents

Overview of modules for Block A

  • Ideation-to-market: Starting up
  • International Business Venturing
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 1)

Overview of modules for Block B

  • Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • Entrepreneurial Supply Chain Management
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 2)

Click here for more information.

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Win A Business Makeover With Retail Capital To The Value Of R250 000

Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000.

Retail Capital

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Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000. During the summer campaign, SMEs are encouraged to share the vision of how they would like to see their business grow, and led by a team of experts, Retail Capital will work with the winning SME to help make their vision come true.

While South Africa’s economy is not faring well, Retail Capital CEO Karl Westvig remains optimistic about the country’s retail and hospitality sectors. “We are seeing some green shoots, with an increase in turnover in these sectors – starting from the end of September. Economic conditions remain very tough, but businesses seem to be trading well into October and we’re hoping this continues into the festive season trading.”

According to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), South Africa’s retail sales rose by 5.5% year-on-year in August 2017, following a downwardly revised 1.6% gain in the previous month and above market expectations of 2.3%. It is the biggest gain in retail trade since August of 2012.

Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance

“I do believe that these sectors will see an improvement during the summer season. But, key to this will be for small business owners to ensure that they have the right amount of stock, adequate cash flow, as well as other systems in place to meet the ever-changing needs of customers,” says Westvig.

For many small businesses, however, continually adapting to market changes requires cash injections that they don’t often have.

The prize includes the following:

  • Business plan/consulting
  • Marketing strategy
  • Design and branding
  • Website and social Media and,
  • R50k capital to gear your business.

Westvig explains that the summer campaign tagline ‘Your Vision. Our Belief’ really speaks to why Retail Capital first opened its doors. “Our goal is to see the potential of small businesses and to work with them in making these become a reality.”

He adds that the idea is not to simply help one business during the campaign either. Westvig points out that one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in the sluggish economy is enough foot traffic through their doors. “Generally, the main hurdle in creating brand awareness and projecting credibility of their establishments boils down to establishing a strong online presence.”

“One of the first ways that South Africans identify a business or service provider that they want to work with is over social media – even in a country where the digital divide has traditionally separated the technological haves from the have-nots,” he says.

He explains that companies that don’t have a social media presence are running the risk of being overlooked entirely. “They may attract customers in their own community with signage or word of mouth, but to grow a business, they need to expand their reach – and that’s where social media comes in.”

But, the reality is that resource and time constraints mean that for many SMEs, social media is not prioritised. “Unfortunately for the average small business owner, they don’t have the time or expertise to get connected.”

Understanding the importance of having an online presence, Retail Capital has also committed to developing the digital presence of all campaign entrants. This would include setting up each entrant’s digital presence on platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor, Zomato and any others that may be relevant to their specific market or industry.

“As a partner to many SMEs in South Africa, we are continually looking at new and innovative ways to help provide them with the much-needed support in order for them to realise their visions. SMEs need to be supported with initiatives like targeted education and training, supportive legislation, and funding opportunities that collectively help them grow our national economy,” says Westvig.

Related: 6 Great Tips For A Successful Shark Tank Pitch

Who we are and what we do:

“More than R1.25 billion has been extended to a range of businesses including food trucks, hair salons, restaurants, spas and franchised retail stores. Many of these businesses have not been able to raise funding in any other way, other than to go to unscrupulous lenders,”says Karl Westvig, the CEO Retail Capital, a company that provides working capital with the help of innovative lending technology.

“We have also estimated that for every R160 000 we lend, we create a new job. This means that 625 jobs have been created purely by enabling small businesses to get the funding they need for working capital requirements or expansion opportunities.”

Retail Capital’s system, which enables it to advance funding to small businesses, based on real time information on credit card transactions, is providing a new funding alternative to entrepreneurs who have previously been turned away by banks. Because it is able to get actual sales information, it can approve funding immediately, and allow for flexible repayment options based on sales cycles of the particular businesses it is funding.

“This creates significant opportunity for small business owners to focus on their business and grow volumes or look for expansion opportunities rather than spend their time frantically trying to repay debt or keep the business alive after debt repayments have eaten away at any cash reserves they might have had.”

Retail Capital funding is repaid by it taking a percentage of a business’s recorded credit or debit card sales, with repayments fluctuating in line with their business cycle. This has the effect of ensuring that it isn’t overburdened with debt.

“In the past six years since starting the business, small businesses have had the benefit of R1 billion in funding they would have been unable to get through traditional channels,”says Westvig.

Against the backdrop of recessionary conditions in South Africa, Retail Capital’s client information reveals growth in informal sector turnover across a number of industries.

“We believe that growth in the informal sector is outstripping that of the formal sector,”says Westvig.

As a large proportion of the businesses it funds are women- and black-owned, there is evidence that entrepreneurs who have previously been excluded from access to finance are now enjoying success now that their access to finance problem has been solved.

Win A Business Makeover with Retail Capital

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