The silver lining in the dark cloud that is the COVID-19 crisis is there were some sectors that got a much-needed boost.
Businesses in the digital sector like Vuuqa, found themselves benefiting from the significant changes forced on society and increased tech adoption. Vuuqa is a digital navigation agency for African brands and businesses, their flagship solutions are an ecommerce platform selling African brands and a lifestyle e-Mag.
“Covid-19 has just made us more confident in our business model and solutions, it has forced people into the digital space,” says Tshiwela Ncube, co-founder and head of operations and strategy at Vuuqa.
“We have been leveraging tech solutions pre-Covid-19 based on the nature of our business,” says Ncube who previously shared with SME South Africa how Vuuqa is using Whatsapp to run and grow.
“How people consume information and how they buy is now digital, so we are beefing up our tech solutions to help us take advantage of this new world.”
This interview forms part of SME South Africa’s ‘Business Unusual’ Series’ featuring respected and influential voices in the local entrepreneurship ecosystem to reflect on new ways of doing business.
ALSO IN THE SERIES
- (Funding) How COVID-19 Has Changed SA’s SME Funding Landscape (Luyanda Jafta – The People’s Fund)
- (Opportunities) COVID-19: Opportunities and Threats (Musa Kalenga – Bridge Labs)
- (Sales & Marketing) How to Sell in a Covid-19 World (Tebogo Selebi, a senior associate partner at TMMBS)
Ncube shares Vuuqa’s plans to further strengthen their tech capabilities, and the biggest misconceptions keeping South African SMEs from making use of tech.
Q: What tech solutions have been critical in the running of Vuuqa and what tools do you recommend for all SMEs?
Google Analytics has helped us understand our audience and thus helped us with how we attract advertisers and how we advertise, interact and engage with our audience.
Flipbook software has helped us to be competitive in the digital magazine space, it has helped us with how the readers experience the magazine.
Design technologies for marketing material. These days you do not need a graphic designer to design my social media posts, business profiles etc. Try the free version of Canva
Project and Process Management tech solutions to help you manage your work and employees this creates efficiencies.
Q: Why do you think that many South African entrepreneurs are still not taking full advantage of technology?
I think it has to do with a lack of knowledge, most SMEs think that technology is expensive, without realising that technology has the potential to reduce costs and create efficiencies.
Also SMEs need to research and find free tech tools that they can use, the free tools might not give you the full functionality, but can sometimes give you what you need at that time, until you can afford the Pro version.
Q: Where do you see the future of ecommerce on the continent going in light of Covid-19?
Ecommerce can only work in Africa if we tailor it to fit our environment and infrastructure. [For example] adapt payment methods to those that are popular in Africa like mobile money and cash. Credit card payments do not seem to be popular.
We need to relook the shipping model because currently delivery in Africa is expensive, especially cross-border shipping. How do we innovate or use current methods of shipping to reduce costs?
Another issue is the cost of data. High data costs deter customers from buying online. How do we then use technologies like WhatsApp that are lighter on data as ecommerce tools. I think it is time for Africans to innovate and create ecommerce platforms that will make sense in Africa and take into consideration the continent’s challenges.