Webshop… or Not

With very little fanfare, we launched our webshop the week before Christmas. Not really the ideal time, but hey, it was ready, we thought we might sell a couple pints to people still undecided as to Christmas dessert. In the week before, I started furiously stockpiling pints of ice cream, the half litre containers of ice cream “for taking home” that really were the reason for the shop to exist in the first place. I dragged my manager in and out of vintage outfits at a 7.30am photo shoot for the webshop, I flogged our poor webmistress to get the damn thing up in record time (and very beautifully, I must say), and I very nearly turned away family members who wanted to purchase pints, in case they depleted my precious reserve of pints that I was convinced  would disappear in record time once we launched the webshop. Well, we launched, we held our breaths, and… nothing happened.

Three weeks later, I think I’ve sold maybe five pints of ice cream in the shop, total, and at least three of those were to people I know. After our pre-Christmas nonevent, we thought things would pick up in the new year, when people return to work and start actually reading all the fabulous online press attention we have been receiving. Not so much. So here I am, scratching my head, doing quite a decent trade in pints as a sideline at our scoop stalls at various markets, and from people popping by the kitchen door, but with a webshop that’s deader than an ice lolly in winter.

It only really occurred to me this weekend, after spending an hour showing my mother how to right click, copy & paste photos on her computer, that there is one thing I totally didn’t think about: South Africans just don’t shop online.

I spent five years in the States in my early twenties, and even now I dimly recall my initial awe at how anything, absolutely anything, can be purchased online in the country that pretty much pioneered rampant consumerism. Within a couple months though I was buying everything from second hand furniture to clothing from the comfort of my desk, without a second thought. But when I try to recall what I have actually bought online in this country since returning in 2006, I draw a blank. A couple books? Heirloom seeds? I’ve bought a lot of both since 2006 – but on American websites, and sent to relatives in the States to bring out on their holidays.

While I haven’t totally given up on the webshop, I do feel that I might have misjudged the South African context. South Africans are definitely more web savvy than they were even two or three years ago, but online purchasing of food items is still relatively uncommon. Woolworths has now entered the fray, which will hopefully make it a bit more mainstream. But for now, we are still processing email, phone, twitter and other not-on-our-beautiful-webshop methods of ordering.



Kate is a company director. She spends her time on mentoring our leadership team, product development, new systems, finance, and business strategy. Her favourite ice cream flavours include raspberry choc chip, cookie dough, nectarine, jasmine blossom, toasted almond and berry cheesecake.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. The Local Bag

    I love following your trials and tribulations, makes me feel involved. I think you’re right, it’s us not you. Not a huge SA trend (that word!) yet. Only comment re shop: maybe emphasize that they’re 1 pint containers? It wasn’t that clear (to me). Happy churning!

  2. Marianne

    Thanks for your input, Gillian. You are involved! We love having a community of customers,fellow bloggers, tweeters and small business owners.

    Thanks for the heads up on emphasizing the size, will see what we can do.

    As for the online shopping, I really hope that it does catch on – it really is an amazing platform for small business owners, so we’re hoping there’s a code for us to crack!

  3. Simon

    Just to note: “The Creamery Shop” logo within this blog post doesn’t link to the shop but is rather a direct link to the image itself.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Kate

      Hi Simon, to be honest, I didn’t think about whether the image should link to the webshop, I was just sort of using it as an image to break up the text! Good point from your side, now rectified. Thanks for reading!

  4. Lisa

    A few points…

    Firstly, check with the good people at Nomu and Yuppiechef. It would be interesting to find out how long their (considerable) marketing and social networking efforts took to ‘tip’ into their market support. And to find out what proportion of their sales come from online.

    Secondly, part of the issue may be that it’s counterintuitive to order ice cream online. I buy ice cream as an impulse purchase – ooh, that looks yummy, I want it now (scoop) or a bit later (container). Or for an occasion – a dinner party or something.

    Now, the Ice Cream Club works marvelously, I think, because it has a lovely surprise/occasional element (also to be had from Glambox.co.za, who does a similar monthly surprise box of sample cosmetics).

    Even as someone who purchases ANYTHING online (Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Yuppiechef, Wicount, Groupon, Private Property, you name it), I wouldn’t readily order ice cream. When would it arrive, and how, and would it be melty… obviously I know you guys and know it wouldn’t be, but your average customer doesn’t know that. Oddly enough, I’d rather jump in my car and visit the kitchen (and I think you should make it clearer that customers are welcome to do so), which has the added appeal of buying direct from supplier (esp. cute artisanal supplier, which you are).

Comments are closed.