MzansiStore.com is a new e-Marketplace providing a platform for South African producers of handmade crafts to promote, market and sell their goods online.
MzansiStore.com was initially launched in September last year in its first iteration, but the site was relaunched approximately four weeks ago.
Speaking to HumanIPO, Deidré Luzmore, founder and director, said MzansiStore.com “brings many producers together onto one platform and provides a mini shop front for each producer to advertise and promote themselves and their product”.
Luzmore added: “I market all the items for all the producers on MzansiStore.com as a business. Each individual crafter can then promote their microsite or their shopfront on Facebook or on Twitter or to their existing client base.”
The new site was designed to include new functionality, which was part of a move to bring the business platform closer to what Luzmore envisaged when she first got the idea.
It provides a dashboard upon which each craft producer can manage their own listings and shipments.
This is done through a simple registration process, which will then provide the producers with their own login details.
MzansiStore.com’s platform “empowers the producer… to actually get into e-commerce in a very easy way, its manageable and the platform is very easy to use to get into e-commerce as an additional sales channel,” said Luzmore, adding she is not planning to replace the physical craft market.
“Locally made handcrafted products will always sell well at a craft market and MzansiStore.com cannot completely replace that,” said Luzmore.
“But small-scale producers should be making a concerted effort to sell online because of the growth potential in the South African market and the potential to reach global markets. I would like for MzansiStore.com to be part of their sales strategy.”
Should a craft producer be interested in making use of the platform, the website features a section for new sellers, which is a simple process of entering data into an online form.
Once completed, Luzmore assesses the forms, and if acceptable, could be activated the same day of applying.
Luzmore also provides training courses for new craft producers on the processes and functionality of the site.
The courses also covers promoting products on social media platforms, namely Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Luzmore is considering creating explainer videos to further enhance the course, especially for craft producers outside of Cape Town, where MzansiStore.com currently operates from.
In terms of fees for utilising the platform, Luzmore said the set-up is free, but is commission based, sourced through transactions.
Regarding challenges in setting up MzansiStore.com, Luzmore said the greatest challenge was creating the web based platform, which she mostly did herself.
“I designed the platform myself, but at times experienced incredible frustration with gaps in my technical knowledge. I had no funds to outsource the development at the time so I had no choice but to keep working at it until I found a solution.”
Luzmore said the initial platform had few suppliers and 300 products. The site now features more than 600 products
“The focus is… to grow the supplier database, so to get more artisans and designers onboard… and to keep finding exposure to new markets for our suppliers, because if they succeed then I succeed,” concluded Luzmore.