Interview with Janey Pillay, Dis-Chem Pharmacies

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Interview with Janey Pillay, Dis-Chem Pharmacies


On the 8th March we celebrated International Women’s Day. In that spirit we highlight another hidden gem in the digital world, Janey Pillay, Head of Digital, eCommerce and Online Marketing at the Dis-Chem Pharmacies. We find out what nearly two decades of experience in the South African digital landscape has taught her.


Describe yourself in 3 words

Curious. Driven. Competitive.

What do you enjoy most about working in digital?

“Yesterday” was so last year within this space. I love that it is so disruptive to traditional media, it’s measurable, you can slice and dice to your target audience and it’s very competitive! Competitive, not just with traditional media, but within its own media type. You never stop learning and at every turn there are new ways to engage within digital. #neverboring

You’ve been involved in the industry since the very beginning. Would you say online marketers’ roles have become easier or harder?

In some ways easier, since you are no longer spending time convincing the Marketing Director that you need digital media as part of their holistic media planning. And in some ways harder, since now all eyes are on digital and the pressure is on to achieve what you said it would.

What were the biggest challenges in taking established brick-and-mortar brands, online?

I’ve been fortunate to work for already established, strong brands like 947, 702 Talk Radio, Cell C, Vodacom and now Dis-Chem. Launching a website, digital marketing strategy or an online store was the next logical step for these brands. The real challenges arise once you are active online:

  • Having a consumer-centric view on what/how you take solutions to the market
  • Establishing a connection with the relevant customer
  • Being highly responsive and transparent, don’t underestimate your customer

What are the most important factors to consider when launching an online shop these days?

  1. Scalability across platforms and infrastructure
  2. Seamless user experience across the key journeys – Search, Navigation, Checkout, Tracking and Comms
  3. Tick all the boxes on security, don’t compromise here!
  4. Don’t underestimate the value of an image and product data
  5. A solid go-to-market plan

3 things experience has taught you?

Have fun. Fail forward. Guts over fear

The biggest changes/developments we are likely to see in e-commerce in SA the next couple of years?

The obvious ones would be:

  • Substantial growth of mobile commerce
  • Price Wars – can only benefit the customer
  • Shop seamlessly across multiple channels
  • On-demand shopping – “there is an app for that” within the hour delivery…

When you are not working you are…

Turning the BIG 40 this April, wanting to fearlessly ice-skate with both my daughters – sooo……I have been going for adult ice skating lessons. I want my children to know that mum is not too old to learn and not comfortable being on the sidelines, I want to have fun too!

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