This has the potential to be big. It’s a new eCommerce tool that allows users to “create an online shop in minutes”.
The new service, called QikCommerce, is a joint venture between MIH — the investment arm of US$18-billion emerging markets internet giant Naspers — and a small WordPress theme building company Obox. Obox has also been credited with building official themes for Posterous.
It’s fairly natural then that QikCommerce should run off a WordPress platform, although the team behind it claims it has been “tweaked and manipulated to present a customer experience that is unlike any other in South Africa”. Upon signup, users are asked to choose their ideal package and then asked to pay a once-off fee that “guarantees your site for life as long as you continue to use it”.
The team behind QikCommerce says that it started with six people, “cupcakes and some coffee around a wobbly table”.
The idea behind QikCommerce was to leverage several MIH brands including mobile and online payments service PayU, online product and price comparison site Price Check, and courier company Internet Express.
QikCommerce says it partnered with PayU and Internet Express to ensure users’ credit card and shipping facilities are set up efficiently. “It means taking 50 pages of documentation and months of delays by asking for only what is needed of you in order to go live in minutes”.
The service claims that the initial set up for a user’s online store “should take you no longer than an hour”.
QikCommerce will be competing against the likes international ecommerce player Shopify, which has been around since 2006, as well as South African services such as Ammo — built by This Army, Snaply, and ShopDirect.
The WordPress community already offers many free and premium paid-for ecommerce and shop themes and plugins to users, so QikCommerce is most likely targeted at a broader type of web user who has little development knowledge or know-how about the WordPress CMS.
QikCommerce reckons the ecommerce market in South Africa is on an upward curve, with “a reported growth rate of 30 to 35% every year” and around R2-billion being spent every year. Moreover, it says, 46% of online retailers in South Africa claim “they are very profitable”.
Obox started out in 2005 as a web development studio focused on building complete sites using ColdFusion. In 2009, the company shifted to building WordPress themes.
Through MIH, Naspers has stakes in a number of online properties around the globe, including an indirect stake in Facebook. Its South African operations, however, still generate a significant portion of its revenue.