Bidorbuy CEO Craig Lube.

Online marketplace Bidorbuy has joined forces with e-logistics company uAfrica to form Bob Group, a new e-commerce platform looking to take on incumbents such as Takealot with a particular focus on small businesses.

The tie-up was announced today, with Bob Group, a new merchant-consumer-focused company, saying it will offer “everything in e-commerce to all local online consumers and businesses, whether they want sell, buy or both”.

The news comes amid rumors that US e-commerce giant Amazon is looking to set up shop in SA.

Bidorbuy says that building on its success as an online trading and auction marketplace, the merger means merchants will now have a single platform offering a suite of e-commerce services including payments, logistics and marketplace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed e-commerce in SA, fueling a dramatic increase in the number of local e-shoppers.

Bob Group now joins South Africa’s fast-growing e-commerce sector, which has experienced double-digit growth since 2020.

According to GeoPoll, this growth was primarily driven by restrictions imposed on brick-and-mortar retail stores, which led to a decline in in-store purchases, fueling a boom in online shopping that led to the birth of new e-commerce players.

Bob Group today brushed off competition fears, saying that where others in SA’s e-commerce environment have adopted a centralized logistics model, it stands out with its decentralized approach, which allows it to price its services far more competitively.

Bidorbuy CEO Craig Lube says the merger means South African businesses of all sizes can now be offered “very powerful e-commerce tools and services”.

Services offered by Bob Group include a tool that allows merchants to sync products from their online store with Bidorbuy, and a real-time solution for product updates, as well as inventory, shipping and tracking solutions.

The company says it also acts as a “payment tool that gives merchants the ability to get shoppers to pay with their preferred payment option” and offers “a software-as-a-service solution that provides the technology for courier companies to manage their entire business.” .

This, according to Bob Group, includes a driver application, customer and administration portals, and all invoicing solutions.

“We believe that SMEs drive the economy and e-commerce in South Africa represents a significant growth opportunity, as evidenced by the current volume of investment activity locally and from abroad. Therefore, we aim to empower businesses to unlock new opportunities for profit by offering more efficient services and tools,” says Lube.

uAfrica Co-Founder Andy Higgins.

uAfrica Co-Founder Andy Higgins.

“For merchants, this will mean spending less time pulling together all aspects of their online business and more time offering exceptional customer service. It will also mean a better shopping experience for shoppers at all stages of the process, from search to payment and delivery.”

uAfrica co-founder Andy Higgins comments: “Our vision at Bob Group is to connect, empower and support people who are changing their lives through e-commerce.

“We are more seller-friendly than our competitors, and at the same time we do not compromise on the excellent service that buyers expect from Bidorbuy.

“Sellers can expect a more cost-effective proposition based on intuitive, easy-to-use sales and fulfillment tools. While we previously focused exclusively on the marketplace, this combination will allow us to provide tools to empower merchants across all sales channels they operate, including their own websites and third-party channels.”

Higgins says that through the development and growth of uAfrica, an e-commerce logistics tool that simplifies order fulfillment and shipping processes, he has been able to see first-hand how online businesses, especially SMEs, can thrive.

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