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Unprepared Ep 5 - How Is Ecommerce Affected in South Africa with Ross Allchorn

Timestamps:

  • [00:00] - Intro
  • [00:20] - How things changed due to the pandemic
  • [02:08] - Impact on businesses
  • [04:03] - How businesses are adapting 
  • [05:49] - Embracing the new normal

Resources:

Key Points:

  • South Africa is in a complete lockdown. People can only go out of the house to buy groceries and medicine.
  • There's also a complete lockdown on the non-essential shipping of products. People are stocking up the essentials because of strict protocols. 
  • Some businesses are at pause while others prospered which includes essential services like pet food. 
  • ShopCreatify chats with their clients anywhere from weekly to quarterly.
  • The new normal is the time to explore opportunities within your business that may have been on the back burner.
  • Businesses, even the ones experiencing a downturn, are investing heavily in making enhancements to their store.
  • The downtime is used for improving the product descriptions, eradicating pain points, and handing over support to the logistics partners.
  • There have been and will be layoffs and businesses that will close. From an economic perspective, people have to embrace this reality and learn how to adjust to it.
  • People will look into starting their own business, improve their existing business, or pivot their business strategies to look for things that will work. 

Transcript

Chase Clymer  

Hey everybody! Welcome back to another episode of Unprepared. This one has gone off the rails now three or four times, we're finally getting it to work. Ross, welcome. 

Thank you so much. Let people know what ShopCreatify does, and how South Africa is dealing with what's going on the world.

Ross Allchorn  

Hello, Chase. Yeah, thanks. (laughs) As you say, hopefully, this is the last attempt and a good one. Yeah so, I'm Ross. I'm Ross Allchorn. I head up a little agency headquarters here in Cape Town, South Africa. We're sort of...we are global. So we're experiencing the brunt of things across the board. 

In terms of directly what we're experiencing, possibly a little bit more heavy-handed than other countries which I've kind of view as a good thing. We're in complete and utter lockdown.

We can only go out of our houses to fetch groceries or medicine. Anything else is subject to a fine or prison. They're got roadblocks all over there, they've got the police ops, the Army's ops. So yeah, as I say, I kind of viewed [it] as a good thing. Sucks to be stuck inside but it could be worse things. And we've actually got a very low count at the moment. I mean, I don't know how it's going to progress. 

But I mean, under 30 deaths across the whole country. It's 57 million people if I'm not mistaken. And less than 30 deaths. That's pretty good..so far. But, being in the Ecommerce space, where we're trucking along, all of my guys seem to be safe...spread out between Europe, United States, and here. All in varying degrees of lockdown. Nobody that I know, nobody on my team is infected, nor their families that I'm aware of. 

And for the most part, our clients are also doing okay. We've had one client [who] put things on pause for two months. But I think they're aware of the fact that things are going to pick up afterwards. I mean, their product is not something that's going to go out of fashion, or the new normal going...it's not going to eradicate it as a desire for the consumer. And some of the others have actually prospered, you know, especially the ones in the, one would call essential services like pet food, for instance. We've got a client that is in the pet food market, and they're making...doing really well so it swings and roundabouts say.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Ross Allchorn  

Yes, there's a lot to be worried about. 

Chase Clymer  

I'm buying so much stuff online that I typically don't just because it's one less trip to the store.

Yeah, I mean, that's one interesting thing also here is that they have a complete lockdown on non-essential shipping of products. My nine-year-old daughter in grade three is starting a school again on Monday, and our old computer conked out over the holidays. So I need to get a little mid-range laptop. 

Ross Allchorn  

And I can't. It's not deemed essential. So I had to go to the police station this morning and get an affidavit. And then I can go to the store and they'll allow me to purchase a laptop because without the police saying that I'm allowed to, I'm not actually able to. 

Chase Clymer  

Oh, man...it's wild.

It's quite crazy. But, they're dealing with it the way that they feel that it needs to be dealt with and I take my hat off to them and...it's an unfortunate but positive thing, in the way that they're handling it. 

Ross Allchorn  

But yeah, we have chats with our clients anywhere from weekly to quarterly. And we've actually got a call later with one of our clients in the States, [they're] actually the ones that do the pet food. And they're...it's a saying that I've always used and it really applies to them because they sell a lot of hay. But they're making hay while the sun shines because people are really stocking up. And maybe it's gonna die down once everybody realizes...they've got their spare room is full of rabbit food (laughs). 

But, until then, they're investing heavily in making enhancements and things to their store, which I think is wise. I think even those that are seeing a bit of a downturn. One of our clients is seeing...has seen a significant downturn. It's starting to sort of trickle-up a bit there in the UK. 

But they spend the downtime, really improving the product descriptions, and eradicating pain points, and handing over support to the logistics partners. The things that they've been putting off because they've been too busy and all the things are quiet. They're actually...they're not just sort of whining and sitting there on the couch complaining about having to eat cereal (laughs) like Cardi B did this morning. I think it was a parody, but...(laughs)

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Ross Allchorn  

So, definitely [for] the most part, if you speak to me, I'm quite positive about things. Yes, there are really bad things happening and, absolute, complete, and utter sympathy to anybody that's adversely impacted by this. 

But from an economic perspective, one has to embrace reality. There aren't going to be...there have been and there will be layoffs [and] businesses that close. But by the same token, there are going to be those people that off...their hands are forced. And they're going to have to start their own businesses or improve or pivot or whatever it is that they have to do to make things work. There was actually an amazing article that you might have seen by Klaviyo? Klaviyo. How do you pronounce it?

Chase Clymer  

It's different everywhere.

Yeah. Giving some really optimistic predictions around how a lot of big brands that have previously relied heavily on retail are going to have to go direct to consumers. So there's a lot of opportunity around engaging with those agencies or not agencies, but those brands and it's definitely a new normal. It is going to be. And we're just going to embrace it. 

Ross Allchorn  

I had a long chat with my project manager this morning, and we were quite positive. I mean, we're able to flex and be agile with what we're doing. If the way that our little agency operates changes a bit that's fine. If we're doing... previously we're doing bigger projects and fewer of them, and [in the] future we're doing more smaller ones that equals out, then so be it, you know? (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, we gotta be really agile during this time. And you gotta, you know, staying the course is one thing, but if that course is going to run you into an iceberg, that's a dumb course to be on. You gotta be able to pivot when the landscape has literally changed. So, I think right now is a good time to explore other opportunities within your business that may have been on the back burner. 

Trust me, I get setting goals and keeping them. We...our business runs on traction. But right now is the time to take a look at the holistic picture of your business and if you have to change to be in business sects next quarter like you got to do it.

Ross Allchorn  

Yeah, it's interesting you say that because this morning, I also cleaned off my whiteboard and sat at my dining room table with a marker and I was writing out all the bits and pieces of the business, and you know, what should be optimized and what we should focus more heavily on and so on. 

I'm just given the new...I mean, interestingly enough, we had a board meeting two months ago. A little bit less, and which was a new experience for us. We're kind of trying to grow up as a business.

But there were a bunch of things, a bunch of action points that we had to do before the next board meeting. And a lot of those things are just so much less priority than they were when we initially set them. But it's all good. I mean, I today have been a bit of a clarity point...trying to figure out, am I spending my time as wisely as I could be in terms of driving? Yeah, as you say steering things in the right direction.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Hey, Ross, thank you so much for jumping on and talking today. I look forward to finally figuring out how to play Magic with you over Zoom.

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A few weeks ago the world changed forever. Every business, every entrepreneur, every single person was unprepared for the sudden change we'd all experience. I'm going to use this time to create content focused on what you can do right now to help your business grow. We're all in this together, we're all unprepared.