Retail chains across the country scrambled to upgrade existing platforms or create online stores to ensure they could continue operating during the hard lockdown in 2020. During this period online shopping experienced unprecedented growth, irrevocably changing shopping behaviour.
Many small businesses did not survive the lockdowns. A study by FinFind and the Department of Small Business Development found that the lockdown destroyed more than 42% of small businesses.
At a time when South Africa is grappling with poor economic growth and persistently high unemployment, the loss of these business is yet another blow to the economy. Small businesses are a critically important driver of economic growth. A report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) constitute more than 90% of all formal business in the country, employ 50-60% of the workforce and contribute 34% of GDP.
Established in 2019, the SOOQ is an e-commerce retailer that provides a platform for small businesses in South Africa to market and sell their products, including fashion, accessories, shoes, baby items, children’s books, food, travel, home and décor, and more into one easily accessible store.
Partnering with The SOOQ allows small businesses to overcome many of the challenges they face including marketing, delivery logistics and payment channels. The SOOQ offers a free platform for small businesses to load their products and resell to customers through an existing online platform, alleviating the need to create an online platform from scratch.
Gareth De Jager co-founder of The Sooq, explains, “We’ve taken the basic concept of online shopping and added new purpose to it, offering small businesses an opportunity to access customers around the country on an online platform allowing them greater reach. Through our corporate gifting offering, small businesses can now also access corporate markets.”
“Sales of my products have increased significantly since joining The SOOQ platform last year,” reveals Aaron Chikungwa, the owner of Aaron Leather Crafts. “I’m receiving orders via the platform almost every week. The SOOQ recently became part of Vodapay which is another welcome development for small business such as mine.”