Adapting to the times: eCommerce Pivots all around South Africa

by JOEL BRONKOWSKI on July 17, 2020

Since 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 incredible brands that have emerged to spin up new business models or change gears to offer essential goods. Whether their pivots are to survive, supply a need or thrive is outside the lines of this post. It's incredible to see brands adapt to this new environment and find ways to give back to those who are most in need.

Partnering to Provide

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. Read more about how Yebofresh continues to deliver through township turmoil. 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. Read more about Ballo's mask giveaway.


A Whole New World

Aside from the impressive Checkers Sixty App there's only one brand I know of in Cape Town that's had quite the impact on how we buy groceries. Enter Granadilla, the stylish swimwear company that's been booming in the V&A Woodshed. Their playful and colorful prints are hard to miss. When Granadilla rolled out a fresh food box I just about fell off my seat. 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 food brands such as Kleinsky's, Wazoogles, MamaMac's, Pesto Princess, Honest Chocolate, Sunbird and Schoon. Their grocery catalog now sits at over 177 items. Granadilla's curated selection of foods and creative bundling could end up becoming a more successful path than swimwear. 

Fashionable Masks and Visors for All

The following fashionable brands have transitioned from all kinds of designer goods to affordable essentials. 

From decals, fabrics and wallpaper Adene's Farm Flowers is now making the prettiest fabric face masks around.

Crystal Birch is well known for her incredible, fashion conscious hats. One of Cape Town's top milliners, Crystal brings character and creativity to all of her designs. No surprise, Crystal has put on a beautiful line of simple and affordable masks, as well as shield visors for adults and children.



From stylish shirts, jackets, coats and kimonos Klipadenim has now produced more than 10,000 affordable and creative masks for men, women and children. All products are produced in a small CMT factory which employs 25 people. Launching the line of masks has enabled Klipademin to keep their team going.

Fabricatestudiobotique has curated a number of incredibly talented designers in Johannesburg. SIES!isabelle has put out a number of beautiful patterned reusable masks that takes stress of your ears. 

I'm certain that I'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.

Post by BizCommunity about Net Florist.

Accenture put together a great report on eCommerce pivots in SA.

Dry Dock's pivot


Food Aggregators serving the community

Retail Goes eComm




Social Impact (food for poor) (aggregating services)

Hyper Local (freestate)

Brand Launches B2B / B2C

All types of industries going digital

Events go Digital



Medical Madness


Seedlings, get a voucher for hotel


WooCommerce 19 sites out of ? in June had the word mask in them

1 alochol

29 wine sites

1 beer

20 gin