How to Start an Online Shop in South Africa
Starting an online store in South Africa can be quite an overwhelming space to say the least. I often get asked by friends, family and even strangers for tips on starting an online shop. So, in light of sharing the love, we have put together a few tips and tricks to help get you started.
1) The first step is to register your company (I used Swiftreg) and then you can register your company's name. You will need to give them first, second and third options. This way you can get your next best options if your first option has already been registered. Once the process is complete, you will receive your Company Registration Documents.
2) Then once your SA company has been officially registered you will need to now register a domain name. There are quite a few options to choose from such as Go Daddy, Afrihost and Register Domain. Keep in mind that you can also buy your domains through Wix and Shopify. Which can sometimes be easier to set up.
3) Next you will need to open a Business Account with your bank. You will need to take your Company Registration Documents with you before you can do this! Phone your bank beforehand to work out all the paperwork you will need. Trust me on the phone call ;)
4) Next you’ll need to register with SARS for tax. I used my own personal tax guy to help me out as I found doing it myself way too complicated. Anything to do with SARS instantly overwhelms me. However, this may not be the case for you!
5) If you want to import products, you will need to register with SARS for an Import/Export License (I also used my tax guy!) You will need to have registered with SARS (as above) before you can do this. Once you receive your license you will get an Importer’s Code.
6) Once you get your Import License (which sometimes does take a while!) then you can start importing items. You will need to give your various overseas suppliers your Import Code when shipping goods.
7) I also applied for a Trademark (this is NB when trading) which can take up to 5 years to get! But once you apply you have rights to your chosen name so it will help you if someone tries to use your same name. I used a company called Legal Legends, who were great.
8) Now that you have all your legal ducks in a row (they are ducks dressed in suits) you will need to either create your website from scratch or, if you prefer, choose a platform such as Wix or Shopify. Both have their pros and cons and you will need to work out which one works best for you. There are a number of blogs and articles that list each platform’s strengths and weaknesses. Here is a good one to read.
9) Once you are up and running you will need to incorporate an online payment system. I use PayFast and it works really well and I have had no problems. Remember, they will take a percentage every time you request a pay out.
We hope this has helped you! If you have any other questions please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to help you out wherever we can.
Too much? We feel you! We also help set up online shops... if you'd like to chat about this too send us an email to the same address above.