ASince the COVID-19 outbreak many businesses have been faced with many tough decisions and for some there is really no decision to make, other than to wait it out. Covid-19 has forced us all to do things we could've never imagine and for many of us it's changed the way that we engage with purchasing.

In the past few months there's been some established brands that have made brilliant strategic pivots. Local manufacturers and suppliers of apparel have changed gears to offer essential goods. And as we discussed in our eCommerce Covid-19 report, we've seen thousands of new businesses emerge. It's incredible to see eCommerce on the rise in South Africa and to see brands adapt to this new environment. In this post we'll cover some of the trends we've seen and recognise some of our favourite eCommerce pivot heroes.

eCommerce Growth during Covid

South Africa has seen tremendous growth during Covid-19. Below gives you some quick insights into the categories we've seen grow the most. Apparel has always been a huge category for eCommerce. The industries where we've seen the biggest growth are restaurants, food, alcohol, sporting goods, health care product and digital services.

View eComm Covid-19 Growth Report

Addressing Needs

South Africa has been hit hard by Covid-19 leaving many people already vulnerable in a desperate state. All around South Africa we've seen people rally together to help. We've come across a number of eCommerce brands that have used their platforms to do good or to take an existing project online. 

Yebofresh was founded to provide affordable and healthy food to various informal settlements in Cape Town. This first of it's kind startup was successfully working to add additional communities to it's coverage and played around with various offerings. The Covid-19 pandemic put Yebofresh is a unique position in terms of being well positioned to help some of the most vulnerable. It's been impressive to see Yebofresh get creative with partnering with a number of volunteer and NPO initiatives to help scale up food parcels to address needs. based out of Woodstock has been in the sustainable fashion space since 2013. They are well known for their stylish unisex sunglasses made from upcycled materials such as bamboo or cork. They've always been about giving back, planting a tree for each pair they sell. With sunglasses being non-essential Ballo wanted to keep their team going and quickly decided to transition to selling masks and hand sanitiser. For each mask sold they are donating a mask to various chapters of the Cape Town Together movement. 

Township has been supporting women economic empowerment in communities since 1997. They have 6 cooperatives throughout Cape Town employing over 50 women to create products made from eco-friendly fabrics. Covid-19 put this incredible project in a tough spot as many small botiques and other retailers were not operating. Last month they decided to launch

Events Going Digital and Beyond

It's safe to say that most of us have had events we were looking forward to cancelled. For expos, conferences and event planners Covid-19 has been particularly hard. We've seen some great examples of new digital events being spun up while other events with large audiences are finding other ways of monetising.

Design Indaba is one of South Africa's most successful events and expos. It's world renowned with folks travelling from overseas to attend the celebration of arts, creativity and innovation. Design Indaba recently spun up a Shopify site to sell a number of products from makers and artists with the some of the proceeds going to an amazing cause.

The National Arts festival like many other popular events had to quickly pivot to create a digital experience. Over the past few months they did just that by offering tickets online and going on with the show via streaming services.

Hyperlocal Food

Before Covid-19 very few of us bought groceries and food online. For many of us that has changed out of concerns for safety and now also out of a world of new options. Food and grocery have seen arguably the biggest shift from consumers and it's not just Checkers, Woolies and Spar reaping the benefits. 

Based in the Midlands of KZN the popular Sagewood Cafe has adapted to the times offering tons of it's fantastic products to the surrounding areas from it's new website.

The Cape Grocery hub launched recently giving folks in Cape Town another affordable option for fresh and affordable goods.

The Sour Loaf is a cute little bakery in the small town of Brenton. Not exactly the kind of place you'd expect to order your baked goods online, until now.

For those of you lucky enough to reside in Johannesburg you can now get all your favourite asian foods and ingredients from one place, online. launched recently and they are serving up fresh and affordable fruit and vegetables in Gauteng.

Granadilla, the stylish swimwear company that's been booming in the V&A watershed. When Granadilla rolled out a fresh food box we were all surprised. What started as a instagram launch has since become a full fledged grocery operation. They've gone on to partner with other local restaurants and their grocery catalog now sits at over 200 items.

Retail Goes Digital

For small businesses that rely solely on foot traffic, Covid-19 has been a death sentence for some and for others they've had to make big moves to rapidly go digital. Below are three brands that have now made moves to create online stores to address continuing to serve their customer bases.

The Surf Garage 031 has long been part of the fabric of Durban's large surfer community. They've got an incredible store and community. Covid-19 pushed them to launch a new online store to ensure they can continue offering their products to keep people surfing.

The Gentry is a stunning shop in KZN offering the finest in mens lifestyle clothing, accessories and home goods. Visiting their new online store made me equally excited for a visit to their storefront somdeay.

Tool City Online is exactly what it sounds like, they sell tools and hardware for DIY and the construction industry. They have 3 retail locations. Their new online store will ensure they can continue to serve their customer base.

B2B goes B2C

Around the world there's a huge shift happening in the world of eCommerce as more historically B2B businesses are also selling direct to consumers. Don't be surprised to see more and more brands you know and love selling directly to you. Here's a few newly launched stores we've spotted that traditionally sell wholesale to retailers but are now selling D2C.

Darling Brewery has been a staple in the craft beer community here in South Africa for ages. Their new website enables customers to buy drinks and food directly from them. is a new brand on the scene. Usually we'd see these kind of products first in retail environments but Be Thirsti is selling D2C.

Usually you'd head to Takealot, Clicks or Game for Oral B products and of course you still can but Oral B decided to also sell D2C, embarking on a new opportunity to secure more revenue and a direct relationship with customers.

Restaurants + eCommerce

As we explored in the post on restaurants in Cape Town, just 14% of restaurants have their own eCommerce functionality. It's not question that this will change as it's a fantastic way to build up a stronger connection with your customer base and enables restaurants to branch out into selling other products.

Belly of the Beast has long utilised Shopify to handle deposits for bookings. When Covid-19 hit they were able to further reiterate on the platform to rally around their staff and later handle orders for delivery. More recently they also introduced a small store selling fine wines.

Cattle Baron's Tyger Waterfront branch launched a local deli store to sell meats directly to the surrounding Durbanville, Bellville communities.

A Taste of the Med in Plettenburg Bay recently launched a site aimed at enabling the local community to pre-order meals from their fantastic restaurant.

Alcohol at Level 3

We all know the story with alcohol in South Africa during Covid-19. During the first stage where it was illegal tons of existing businesses scrambled to go digital. In June alone there was nearly 100 new alcohol sites in South Africa.

Saxenburg Winery launched this site to sell wine direct to consumers and to manage their wine subscription.

The Gin Co was setup to sell Gin and Gin related products directly to consumers and to wholesalers. was established to handle local alcohol delivery in Cape Town and surround regions for just R40. They've created a stunning site and experience for customers.

Health + Covid-19 

There are countless stores launched selling masks and other health and sanitary products. It's a crowded but fast growing space for obvious reasons.

Viromask was setup to create a trustworthy and effective mask brand that people can trust. is offering locally made masks that celebrate the people making the masks and celebrates everyone using masks to help stop Covid-19. was setup as a one stop shop for all your Covid-19 sanitiser and health needs. 

Sporting Goods

With many people being careful and unable to use local gyms it's no surprise that online sporting goods and fitness is a booming space. launched recently to offer premium dumbells and other gym equipment. is a membership based fitness program with a vast selection of live streaming courses from a number of fitness pros. a beautiful new brand launched recently to offer lots of unique reflective outdoor apparel for athletes.

Feature a Brand I Love


I'm certain that we've missed a ton of other innovative companies pivoting to do survive or thrive. Feel free to contact us with suggestions and we'll be sure to do a follow up post soon. There's been some other fantastic articles written about merchants making pivots, here's a few we've come across:

β€’Post by BizCommunity about Net Florist.
β€’Accenture put together a great report on eCommerce pivots in SA.
β€’Post by BizCommunity on Dry Dock's pivot