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eCommerce Africa Confex 2015

The eCommerce Africa Confex was the first conference to be held in Africa with the focus on eCommerce business in Africa. The event was organized by Kinetic Events, an organization that specializes in organizing IT events across Africa. The two day event was a combination of an expo and conference where different key players in eCommerce where discussing and exhibiting their services.

The conference was attended by over 400 delegates from within Africa, UK and the USA. From Zimbabwe, there were delegates from Ecocash and Zimall. We had hoped there would be more delegates from Zimbabwe in light of the number of new eCommerce businesses launched in recent months.

The conference featured an array of speakers from successful eCommerce businesses in Africa and of note was CEO and founder of Konga Online Shopping, Sim Shagaya who left the house begging for more after delivering his presentation on How To Sell Into Africa And Grow Your Business Beyond SA. Perhaps the most interesting part is when he said:

“Cecil Rhodes didn't do Africa nicely, but he did Africa effectively”

He explained how much effective Rhodes was as a business person and that we should have long term plans when doing our businesses. The conference programme was nicely organized in sessions which were made of twenty keynote presentations and four panel discussions.

Notable keynote presentations where from Dougie Henderson, Head, Emerging Products and Innovation – Africa, Visa Inc and his topic was “Digital Payments, A consistent Approach From Visa”. His speech covered an interesting part of the new Visa Checkout System which greatly simplifies the checkout process by getting rid of most of the painful steps that lead to cart abandonment during checkout.

Next up was Luke Mckend, Country Director for Google South Africa whose talk was on Spearheading A Successful Ecommerce Strategy Working In The Unique African And South African Environment. He shared some interesting analytics of ecommerce in Africa and the adoption rate. From the statistics, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya seemed to be the greatest ecommerce players in Africa.

We also had Mike Needham, the Principal Solutions Architect for Amazon Web Services who talked about Rolling Clouds Over Africa, Bringing Agility, Innovation And Cost Efficiencies To Your Omni-Channel Commerce Platforms. Efi Dahan, Paypal Regional Director of Sub-Saharan Africa and Israel also presented on the topic “Ecommerce Consumer Trends – A Global Perspective”.

There was one panel discussion on the first day with the topic, Driving Customer Engagement and Purchases. The discussion centered mostly on improving the user experience, providing ecommerce features that minimize cart abandonment. This included things like additional costs that suddenly appear during checkout, and also the effects of asking people to sign up first before they know the total they are going to pay for the order.

The day was concluded with a Cocktail Networking Function which gave an opportunity for the business leaders to meet and discuss business in a more relaxed environment. The conference was being moderated by Eric Edelstein, a serial entrepreneur and Angel Investor based in Cape Town. He co-founded a number of South Africa's most well known internet marketing and product companies such as the incuBeta Group and Springleap.


The second day featured even more interesting topics especially the presentation by Paul Casarin on the role of mobile in growing Consumer to Consumer (C2C) marketplaces. Paul Casarin is the Head of Operations and Strategy for Gumtree South Africa, eBay. He gave some interesting insights on how C2C ecommerce is one of the biggest and quickest growing ecommerce segments.

We also had panel discussions on the topic “What does the future landscape of ecommerce look like: can the small players not only survive but strive?”. However, the panel discussion that really drew the attention of the house was on “Trends for the delivery of online orders.” The issue of logistics got everyone asking questions and sharing experiences as order delivery is the final part of the order process which determines whether the customer will come back or not.

Dan Croxen-John, CEO at AWA Digital also managed to keep the audience hooked with his presentation on the topic “Why 95% of your website visitors don't buy – and what you can do about it”. Nikki Cockcroft, Woolworths Group Head of Online also talked about how Woolworths Online operates independently of the Woolworths stores in her talk on “Building for future retail: the merging of the physical and virtual world”.

The last keynote presentation was by Paul Galatis, Director at and the audience immediately fell in love with him. His topic was “Unconventional approaches to winning customer loyalty, inspiring passion and earning love from your customers”. He talked about how Yuppiechef has managed to earn loyalty by sending hand-written cards to its customers.

The final panel discussion was on security and regulation of data collection and online sales in Africa. Unfortunately we had no representatives from Zimbabwe who could really tell us about regulations in Zimbabwe with regard to customer information collected online. In the recent months we have seen the rise of local bulk emails flooding our inboxes and yet we never signed up for them. The worst part of it being the inability to unsubscribe from these bulk emails.

The conference was so well organized and the panel of speakers was relevant, experienced and made of qualified industry experts. There were a number of private meetings between the various ecommerce business leaders and service partners who were exhibiting. Exhibitors were mainly banks, logistics and Software development companies. We were just so mesmerized by the way all these different organizations were working together to support ecommerce, particularly the banks which were among the platinum sponsors of the event.

There were also live Tech Demonstrations in the exhibition stands by some of the best ecommerce solution providers and service partners. Of note were Amazon Web Services, UBER, PayPal and Shopify.

The team that came from Zimbabwe greatly benefited from the conference and certainly did take a lot home. However, The Techlair Zimbabwe, represented by Wiseman Kuchera, benefited even more after they won a coffee maker for the best tweets of the conference.

The eCommerce Africa Confex 2016 will be on the 16 - 17 of February in Cape Town and we certainly hope that we will have more representatives from Zimbabwe attending the conference.

About The Author

Rational Ear

Software Engineer at Zimall Online

@rational_ear - E-Commerce Consultant, Software Engineer and Entrepreneur. #PastPresident #Rotaractor #Rotarian #Rational

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