Starting an E-Commerce website in South Africa! Basics


It is very overwhelming to start an e-commerce website. I think what makes it the most overwhelming is that many entrepreneurs are not technical. Here are some simple steps to get you started! (Focused on entrepreneurs in South Africa)

Your idea and concept:

My only advice here is to talk to a trusted friend or mentor. When talking about your ideas to someone then you will soon realize it sounds different from the version in your head. You will then know if it makes sense or not.


With no doubt in my mind, you should use WordPress and Woocommerce. You need flexibility with your shop and these two open-source platforms will take you far with a little money. They are easy to use and can handle any kind of shop. WooCommerce sells plugins to enhance your shop. But the basic shop is for free. Just note there are a lot of free plugins available.

Payment Gateways:

You must make a decision before you register for a payment gateway. Do you want to sell locally or internationally?

  • PayFast (ZAR) *Recommended for selling local, because it is fast to set up and very secure.
  • PayStack (ZAR & USD)
  • PayPal (USD) *Recommended for international.
  • Flutterwave (ZAR & USD)

Shipping / Courrier:

I personally don’t like setting up shipping on a website. I found when you are a small online shop and manually do the “waybill” it’s less frustrating, especially in South Africa. But you do get carrier companies that integrate with Woocommerce.

  • Small online shop
    • Recommend doing the “waybill” yourself.
  • Other
    • When choosing the courier company ask them about integration with Woocommerce and if possible as a trusted developer for his or her advice.


This is the name of your website. Keep it as simple as possible. Note: If you are planning on registering your business please see “Registering your business below”.

    • Local and Trusted with great support.
  • Godaddy
    • They offer really good pricing for new registrations.


Hosting is my passion and I am very picky when I host my websites. Tip: the cheapest hosting is not the best hosting. I personally lost a big e-commerce website because of bad security on the hosting provider’s side. I own a hosting business and can help you with the necessary specs to get you started. If you are interested to learn more check out the resource/shop in Lioneur.

Registering your business:

When you decide to go big or go home you must register your business. In South Africa, you can go to the CIPC website and start the registration.

I do not start with this topic at the beginning because some entrepreneurs do not want to create a business from the start. I will always advise registering a business because this will help you decide your domain name and less admin in the future.

  • CIPC
    • Reserve the name (They will ask you 5 names to check)
      • TIP: I once made the mistake of buying the domain name before checking it on CIPC.

Business bank account:

This recommendation is based on South Africa.

  • Capitec bank
    • Friendly and fast. They don’t care how small your business is.
  • Other
    • FNB, Tymebank

Hope this gives you an idea of how to get started. Please feel free to contact me or add me to a group. I will be happy to help you.