Take the fight
The online shopping wars are heating up in South Africa, with market leaders Takealot and Kalahari both eyeing the continent and fortunes that await whoever manages to crack African e-commerce. Kalahari has the weight of Naspers* behind it and Takealot.com recently received a $100m injection from investors. Kalahari also recently updated its mobile apps, focusing on the consumers that will make the ultimate decision when it comes to online orders.
We tested the new Kalahari app for iPhone, which is a great improvement over previous incarnations. For one, the new app is native and feels a lot more responsive. It also makes end-to-end ordering a lot friendlier on mobile devices – to the extent that I actually now prefer using the app to the full desktop Kalahari site. There
is still some work to Value for money: be done on the other end of the connection, however.
The problem, and this is somet h i n g Ka l a h a r i shares with its local rivals, is finding the items you’d like to buy amid the mil-
Also consider: lions of things now available. With everything from books and kitchen utensils to consumer electronics and gardening equipment, Kalahari’s catalogue is immense and finding what you need can be tricky.
This is something that international market leader Amazon has managed to solve, with powerful search being part of its success story. More traffic to analyse and use to improve search algorithms also helps things along for the Amazons of the world. For Kalahari, which has to deal with a big catalogue despite having much smaller volumes, it must be an uphill battle.
Of course, this isn’t a problem if you’re looking for a very popular item like a Sony PS4 or a best-selling novel. You’ll find these things with ease, and Kala- hari has made the checkout process very efficient on its app, particularly if you opt to save your credit card details for future orders. One category where Kalahari seems to shine is children’s books.
The cracks in Kalahari’s search start showing when you’re trying to find that specific camera lens or variant of luggage. Finding obscure items and being able to order exact colours and versions of products is also what drives a great deal of online commerce whereas more popular items are readily available at bricks-andmortar retailers.
The other thing conspicuously missing from the Kalahari app is access to your wish list. This is something Kalahari has on its website but is missing from the mobile app. You can’t save things to your wish list or access saved items this way, which is a missed opportunity since I suspect a lot of browsing will happen on the mobile app. Nonetheless, Kalahari has a world-class app and the company’s service in terms of queries and deliveries has been excellent in my experience. Things aren’t quite on the level of an Amazon yet, but that’s a tall order given the economies of scale Kalahari deals with. The race is on. *Finweek is a publication of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers.