The big thing in South African trading used to be ‘e-tailing’ – brands developing online stores – but that has now been usurped by ‘me-tailing’ where individuals are selling goods online for themselves.
Claire Cobbledick, Head of Marketing for Gumtree SA, says this ‘me-tailing’ trend has been in place ever since the country’s biggest online trading site was founded in 2005 but has shown a huge spike in the past few years.
A recent survey of Gumtree users revealed that 65% of South Africans have already used classifieds to buy or sell goods and over 100,000 good-related ads on Gumtree are posted by individuals that consider themselves “professional seekers or brokers”. And globally, the informal economy saw the same spike, which amounts to around $10 trillion.
Cobbledick says more South Africans are now comfortable with operating their own small businesses off the site by using it as a virtual store front: “They don’t need to have a big brand presence to drive sales because an effective, well-priced listing will get traffic from 5 million unique viewers per month. The search engine delivers the potential customers.”
She also notes that the ‘me-tailers’ are getting more sophisticated in how they use Gumtree to run their burgeoning businesses: “The site now offers all kinds of tools to allow for the management of inventory, determining pricing, reporting on ad status and secure escrow exchanges of goods and money.”
The other aligned consumer trend on Gumtree is what is called ‘prosumerism’ which is the merging of hobbies and income; “People are now discovering that their passions can become their part-time or full-time professions through online trading”, says Cobbledick. The most common example of ‘pro-sumerism’ is someone who loves to do up cars and can then trade the results of their efforts for a tidy profit but she adds “experts in all kinds of DIY fields like carpentry or craftwork are finding substantial extra money easy to harness”.
Gumtree SA, the country’s largest online classifieds site, currently has over 1 million live ads listed – success; it’s as easy as Gumtree.