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Top online stores in South Africa
The only list you’ll virtually ever need
The only list you’ll virtually ever need
Online shopping in South Africa may still be unchartered territory for many, but more and more the bricks and mortar of storefronts are being exchanged for the HTML and PHP of virtual marketplaces. Aside from big businesses – like Woolworths – launching eStores alongside their physical outlets, cyberspace has given many up-and-coming South African entrepreneurs a platform atop which they can hawk their goods and punt their wares without falling victim to crippling overheads.
And even though only just over 50% of Internet users in the nation have checked-out online, a study done by MasterCard Worldwide in 2010 showed that most of these e-shoppers found “adding to cart” more convenient, user-friendly and easier than walking into a store, using a catalogue or purchasing from a call centre.
So whether you’ve already hopped on the bandwagon and sworn allegiance to Bidorbuy.co.za, Kalahari.net or Takelot.com, or whether this is the first you’ve heard of the phenomenon, we’ve put together a list of our favourite online places to do a spot of shopping in Cape Town and surrounds.
Thanks to the 2010 advent of Labels4Less.co.za, penny-pinchers can bid adieu to dingy bargain basements and do their discount shopping from the comfort of their own poorly lit ground floor. This innovative South African site sells high-end European brands at between 40% and 60% less than the original price: think Energie, Miss Sixty, Lee Cooper and Diesel jeans, Superdry and Armani T-shirts, Replay swimwear and more. And as owner Francis Massa is a stickler for quality, virtual aisle cruisers can rest assured that the stylish threads are 100% authentic and up to standard; there are no rejects, knock-offs or flawed clothing to speak off. Not to mention, Labels4Less delivers for free to any post office in South Africa and maintains a 10-day return policy, meaning you can send back whatever you’ve ordered within 10 days of receiving it and get a full refund or credit note (no explanation necessary). Though, if you’re in Cape Town, you can pop down to the shop’s physical storefront in Kloof Street and check out the goods in person. Lastly, the site runs a weekly flash sale, during which goods are further marked down in price for a seven-day period.
A welcome alternative in light of the 2013 meat scandal that rocked South Africa, Free Biltong sells free-range, ethically produced biltong and droëwors via its online storefront. The owners of the company are as passionate about using only grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef as they are about making sure you get the tastiest South African snacks possible. So, expect high-quality nibbles at surprisingly affordable prices – lower than the cost of similar products at Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths, in fact. Plus, the goods are made to order and delivered as soon as they’re done drying, which means that you’re getting a super fresh product, not something as hard and bland as old shoe leather. Free Biltong delivers for free in the greater Cape Town area, and craft beer is also available for purchase on the site. Expect to receive your goodies anywhere from two days to two weeks from the point of ordering.
There’s no longer need to search high and low for South Africa’s foremost reds, whites, pinks and Méthode Cap Classiques; Cozier Wine Cellars is giving you the power to peruse its shelves with the click of a mouse. The Cape Town-based fine wine, premium spirit and craft beer store launched its online shop in 2013 and has since been guaranteeing that locals have a delicious vino to drink over dinner or to share with friends. The e-store as well as the Kloof Street storefront stock only wines that have been researched, tested, retested and discussed, so grape fundis can rest assured that they’re purchasing the good stuff (not the entry-level tat that clogs up supermarket shelves). Don’t worry about memorising the most recent Platter’s South African Wine Guide; rather, take comfort in the fact that even Cozier’s cheapest bottle – prices start from R36 – will be not only drinkable, but delicious. Not to mention, delivery is free within the Cape Town city centre, Atlantic Seaboard and Blouberg/Table View areas with a minimum spend of R600. A surcharge is attached to deliveries made to destinations outside of the aforementioned zones.
Though initially born as a physical storefront in 2008, Springleap.com, the South African pioneers in crowdsourced t-shirt design, soon after abandoned walled-in retail and went electronic. These days, the site boasts over 250 designs dreamed up by creatives as far afield as Malaysia, France and Indonesia, and with the click of a button online shoppers can select their style and customise their t-shirt purchase (designs are also available in print and on posters and canvas). With Woolworths-quality merchandise and the brain power of a global army as an energy source, Springleap.com is infusing online apparel with a fresh, alternative edge.
The team at League of Beers (LOB) isn’t just hawking ales and pushing pints, they’re genuinely passionate about what’s brewing in the craft scene. With a motto that claims ‘Not your ordinary beer store’, the site and the people behind it do their to best to support small-scale local producers, inspire tasting adventures and introduce the community to a carefully curated, incredible range of both South African and international tipple. One of the LOB’s most brilliant offerings is the ‘Beer of the Month Club’, a membership that lasts between 3 and 12 months and includes delivery of 12 handpicked cold ones every few weeks. It goes without saying that cutting-edge beer accessories, homebrewing kits and standard cases of (what can be hard-to-find) craft beer are also on sale, and delivery is free within South Africa.
You’ll most likely know her as the woman hawking tuna burgers at the Old Biscuit Mill, but her once weekly, semi-permanent stand at the Neighbourgoods Market is hardly the extent of the OceanJewels.co.za business model. This blog-based fishmonger supplies locals with the freshest fish (SASSI certified) this side of the False Bay coastline, and, what’s more, if you live in the Cape Town area she’ll deliver right to your door. She sends regular offering and price updates via email and social media channels, and takes orders on her mobile. With a fisherman father and over six years experience in the business, even if you can’t predict what’s on offer each week, you can be guaranteed that your fish will arrive as fresh as it gets. Cash and EFT transfers are accepted.
Interested in jumping on the cyber foodie bandwagon? Here are a few additional online organisations bringing you the best in artisan food stuffs.
- Thecreamery.co.za – hand-made ice cream
- Cure Charcuterie (on Facebook) – home-cured and smoked-free range streaky, neck and back bacon.
What started out as a half-baked idea in the minds of two developers in 2006, has quickly risen to the forefront of the South African e-commerce landscape. The award-winning Yuppiechef.co.za site searches the world for the finest kitchen tools and brings the quirky, stylish culinary equipment right to your doorstep. From rabbit-shaped pepper mills to herb savers, biltong makers and spaghetti measurers, the virtual marketplace offers online shoppers the chance to browse widely for the secret ingredient to success in the kitchen. What’s more, a hand-written “thank you” note accompanies each purchase – an effort to connect with a cyber community that doesn’t have the benefit of face-to-face contact.
Born and bred in Cape Town, Designkist.com is an online surface/textile design studio specialising in locally-inspired wallpapers, fabrics and cushions. Home-grown and featuring the work of 12 South African designers, the eStore also allows customers to customise the look, feel, colour and size of their order. So whether you want ready-made Cape Dutch continental pillows, a few running metres of Marmite jar fabric or your own unique digital pattern, owner Kristen Morkel is always keen to meet for a cup of tea to discuss before you place your online order. As an added bonus, her wallpaper is self-adhesive, and all of her products are manufactured in SA.
No online listing would be complete without a sex shop, and as a nation that still views what goes on behind closed bedroom doors as slightly uncouth, some may argue that there’s no better place to purchase your handcuffs and lubricants than in cyberspace. Madameboudoir.co.za has everything from potions and lotions to cliterature, and with your identity only revealed as an IP address, you can search the site to your heart’s content without feeling a moment of embarrassment or hesitation. Even the site’s delivery packaging is discreetly wrapped and brought to your door without the faintest indication of the products within.
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