Massmart’s renewed commitment to e-commerce as a strategic growth vector started last year.
In its aim to become South Africa’s top e-commerce destination, under the leadership of Sylvester John, who has been seconded from Walmart, the group has been building strong local e-commerce leadership talent.
This has led to the appointment of Thembani Biyam to the position of vice president: group e-commerce, B2C platforms.
A former management consultant, Biyam has a strong track record in e-commerce and has served in roles including country manager for OLX and CEO of South Africa’s first food delivery app, Orderin.
Through these experiences, he is well-placed to continue driving the growth of Massmart’s app and website offering.
“Massmart is the market leader in general merchandise (which includes categories such as electronics, appliances and home improvement) and pairing that with a strong omni-channel offering through our extensive store footprint is what will set us apart from our competitors,” he says.
His first priority is to continue driving the group’s revamped digital offering – which includes a new Game website and Makro app as well as a significantly enhanced Makro website.
“Following these launches last year, which helped contribute to almost 100% group ecommerce GMV growth, we are working on more exciting developments aimed at offering our customers an unmatched shopping and delivery experience that they can trust,” says Biyam.
“One of the things customers can now look forward to is a revamped Builders website in the next few months,” he adds.
Online shopping participation remains low in South Africa, currently representing approximately 4% of sales.
For continued growth to be achieved, customer concerns on topics like data privacy and payment security need to be addressed, for trust to increase.
Biyam emphasises the significant security and privacy improvements in the online sector in recent years, which enabled the predominantly effective management of accelerated growth in the food delivery segment during the pandemic.
High data costs and poor internet infrastructure have also been cited as barriers to adoption, and to combat this, Massmart has taken a mobile-first approach, leveraging technology to optimise and deploy lite websites and apps that are most efficient on data costs and vastly reduce the connectivity challenges of the past.
Biyam also notes the importance of speed and reliability in the online customer experience.
“We recognise that customers expect fast and reliable delivery when shopping online. Reducing the customer promise for delivery to 2-5 days and pickup to next day, across Makro, Game and Builders was a huge team effort and has been very well received by customers.
“We are continuously improving our execution and in the first quarter of 2023, over 80% of Makro and Builders orders nationally were delivered in 2 days or less with high on-time delivery rates.”
Commenting on Massmart’s growth ambitions, Sylvester John, senior vice president, Massmart Group e-commerce says, “Ultimately the end-to-end customer journey needs to be consistently seamless to build utmost trust for accelerated online adoption in the months and years to come.
He adds, “While we still have much work to do at Massmart, we are encouraged by the continued progress across our platforms, fulfillment operations and service levels, and we look forward to the further improvements ahead under Thembani’s leadership of our omni-channel platforms.”