This month we chat to one of the hottest properties in SA eCommerce. Meet Warrick Kernes, serial entrepreneur, winner of London’s 2009 Young Businessman of the Year Award, founder of online store Action Gear, and guest lecturer on eCommerce at WITS Business School. Warrick also sits on the Education Committee for the eCommerce Forum Africa and is a regular contributing writer for the SA Entrepreneur Magazine.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Man of action.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a…..
Tell us a bit about your journey with online store Action Gear
After a few years in London I moved into my parents’ spare room and that’s where I started and ran the business for the first two years. As the first person to sell GoPro in SA I capitalized on this and the business grew rapidly and achieved the first R1m month in Year 3. As the business grew and I took on partners we built a great team which helped us to hit consistent high sales. Later, as drones became popular, we secured an import agreement for the most popular brand DJI. I exited the business early in 2018.
Why do some eCommerce companies succeed while others fail?
Many entrepreneurs have the false belief that they can turn on a website and then sit back and watch the sales flow in. Entrepreneurs need to recognise their online store as being a proper business and they need to give it the due attention to grow it like any other business – with time and resources.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing eCommerce companies in Africa?
The lack of knowledge of how to do it correctly.
Tell us about your current venture The Insaka eCommerce Academy
We coach South African’s who are starting out to be able to build, launch and grow their own successful eCommerce businesses. For entrepreneurs who are already selling online we help them to achieve higher sales and to scale their businesses. There are many free resources available on www.insaka.co.za to help you whether you’re experienced or just starting up.
What advice do you have for aspiring eCommerce entrepreneurs?
Commit to take control of the core components of your online store yourself. Empower yourself to know how to change and improve your website and learn how to bring quality traffic to your site. This is what drives your business so you want to have full control and knowledge of these areas.
What is the next big thing in eCommerce?
Offering your customers “Click & Collect” is huge overseas and we’re now starting to see consumers in South Africa wanting this here too. As with so many trends South Africa is behind, but we’re seeing big company like Takealot setting up Click & Collect depos around the country. Pargo has over 2,200 pick-up points and DSV are rolling out their Lockers at Engen garages throughout SA.
Click & Collect offers convenience to the customer, it saves costs for the courier and the eCom store gives the customer a better experience so this is a true win-win-win situation and we’ll see this trend really take off this year.
When I’m not working, I’m…
Mountain biking or in the bush.