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How To Start An Online Store In South Africa For Free

Last updated on June 18th, 2024 at 10:02 am

In this blog post, you will learn how to start an online store in South Africa for free.

You will get the exact steps you can take now to start selling online, and in the process, start earning a living right from your living room.

Additionally, I will give you the proven strategies you can use to accelerate the promotion process and receive your first order as soon as possible.

See, the biggest player in the South African eCommerce Market is 

In fact, this online store had a revenue of US$451 million in 2020. 

And then followed by with US$69 million revenue and with US$51 million revenue.

What does this tell you?

There is money to be made selling online!

But there is one problem.

How do you get started?

Well, there are two ways you can start an online store in South Africa.

Ways to start an online store in South Africa

a). Hire a web developer

This is the default state for most people seeking to make money online in South Africa selling.

All they do is get someone who understands how to code, give them instructions on what they want, and boom! They get a custom store.

Does it sound easy?

Well, it is easy!

The reason is, the person you are hiring to do the work actually knows their work (most of the time).

But sometimes, you may end up hiring some rookies just out of the woods. And in the end, they deliver a wacky job that you will be embarrassed to show your mom.

Worst of all?

They have pocketed the money!

If you are ever going to hire someone to do the work, make sure you get the right person for the job.

To do that, ask them for their previous clients, and if possible, interview them. 

Isn’t that way too much Kevin?

Well, not really. See, you want quality work. You want value for your money. Do anything to make sure you are getting what you paid for.

Website design prices in South Africa can range anywhere between R500 to R50 000. Ultimately, the price of a website largely depends on two factors – what you need and who you’re getting it from.

What if I don’t have the money?

Hold that thought, it is time for the second way to start an online store in South Africa.

b). DIY Online stores

If you don’t have the budget or the capacity to hire a web designer in South Africa, your next option is to do it yourself.

But I don’t have coding skills?

Here is the thing;

You don’t need coding skills to start an online store for free in South Africa.

And today, I will show you the exact method you can use to get started and have a gorgeous eCommerce website in Under ten minutes.

I am talking about online store builders.

These are tools you can use to create any kind of website without having to touch the code.

In fact, most of them come with a feature allowing you to drag and drop things around.

This way, you can create any kind of design you can dream of.

A good example of such tools is OLITT.

OLITT is a free website builder you can use to create a website. With it, you can even manage your Domain Names Records from a secure DNS Management Platform for free.

How To Start An Online Store In South Africa For Free

Follow these exact steps to create an online store for free in South Africa

1. Head over to

Click on Create your free site

Go to to get started.

Click on Create Your Free Site to get started.

By doing so, you will be able to create a free online store in South Africa. 

2. Create an account

Type password

Your next step is to create an account before you proceed.

Here, you have three options:

  • Use an email and choose a password (make sure to provide a valid email, because you will be required to verify before you proceed).
  • Google account – here, you can use your Gmail account to create an account
  • Apple account – use your Apple account to sign up

Once you have signed up, move to the next step of how to create an online store in South Africa for free.

3. Choose a category

Click on Online Stores

Before you start creating a website, you will first have to decide what category it falls into.

This way, you can get the appropriate content for the site. Choosing the right category also helps you pick the right template.

For this tutorial on how to create an online store in South Africa for free, click on Online Stores.

4. Choose a template

Click on Create from Gift-shop V2

After choosing a category, the next step is to pick the right template.

For this reason, go through the library of free online store templates and pick the one that catches your eyes.

Luckily, OLITT gives you access to over 200 designer-made templates, making the building process easier.

5. Start Editing

Click on Search Blocks

Once you have the right template, start editing.

Replace the text with your own, and even the images, upload your own.

To learn more about how to customize your new online store in South Africa, visit the OLITT knowledgebase.

And then move on to upload products, update descriptions, set prices, among other things that will help a potential buyer.

You can see a demo of what’s possible here.

Using Woocommerce in South Africa

Another proven way to start an online store in South Africa for free is using Woocommerce.

WooCommerce is a customizable, open-source eCommerce platform built on WordPress.

Better part?

Woocommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. 

This tool makes creating and managing an online store simple, with reasonable levels of flexibility and several vital features such as inventory and tax management, secure payments, and shipping integration.

Follow these steps to get started;

1. Go to Dashboard ‹ My Blog — WordPress

Go to Dashboard ‹ My Blog — WordPress

Login to your wordpress website.

This means that you need a wordpress website to get started. If you do not have one already, go ahead and get our cheap hosting in South Africa.

2. Click on Add New

Click on Add New

Navigate to Plugins and then click on Add new.

3. Click on Search Plugins

Click on Search Plugins

And then search for ‘Woocommerce.’

4. Click on Activate

Click on Activate

When you find it, click Install.

Wait for a few seconds for the free plugin to install on your website.

Once done, click on Activate.

5. Set up your store

Click on Welcome to WooCommerceTell us about your store and we'll get you set up in no timeCountry / Region
Email address
Get tips, product updates and inspiration straight to your mailbox. Powered by Mailchimp
Skip setup store details

This is the last step.

Go ahead and fill in the details about your store in South Africa.

Once you are done, you need to upload your products, provide all the details including prices and stock units.


You have learned how to start an online store in South Africa for free.

Your next step is to learn how to promote it to make the first sale as soon as possible.

How to promote an online store in South Africa for free

Promoting your online store for free in South Africa is possible, but it can be difficult to do on your own. We will discuss how you can promote an online store without spending any money right now. 

1). Social media marketing

First, make sure that you are posting often on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

You want to post at least once a day if not more. 

Using hashtags (#) will also help bring in new followers who may be interested in your products or services!

2).  Create relationships with other businesses

Creating business relationships is a great way to promote your online store. 

For example, if you are selling handmade dog collars on Etsy then reaching out to local pet stores would be helpful in getting the word out about your products! 

3).  Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is a great way to get your business on the map. 

By using keywords that people are looking for like “buy handmade dog collars online” you can reach out to customers who may not have known about your store otherwise! 

4).  Email marketing

Email may be one of the oldest forms of Internet marketing, but it is still effective! 

Make sure that you are sending emails to all your subscribers once a week. 

You can also send out special offers for discounts or coupons to keep them coming back! 

5).   Content marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating valuable, relevant content for your audience. 

This can be done through videos on YouTube or interesting blog posts that people will want to share with their friends! 

6). Video marketing

Creating a YouTube channel and uploading videos often is another great way to promote an online store in South Africa for free. 

You can create tutorials for your products or share interesting stories about how you started your business! 

7). Participate in online events and discussions

There are many ways to promote an online store, but one of the best is participating in online events and discussions. 

This could be done through a discussion board or even just commenting on blogs that relate to your business! 

8). Do guest posting on other websites.

Doing guest posts on other websites is another great way to promote an online store. 

This also helps you build relationships with people who are similar to your target market!

Promoting an online store doesn’t have to be expensive if you take advantage of free tools like social media and search engine optimization. 

What other ways do I not mention? 

Now that you have handled the traffic part, you need to convert it to sales.

How to increase conversion rates

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of optimizing a website and its marketing funnels for converting more users. 

CRO can be implemented at any stage in your sales funnel: from landing pages, ads, ad targeting all the way up to product page UX and A/B testing. 

Consider the following strategies;

a). Leverage Customer Reviews: 

Customer reviews are the most powerful marketing tool you can use to convince your prospects. 

What better way is there than to show how other people have gotten great results from using your product or service?

b). Reduce Cart Abandonment:

You could be losing a significant number of sales due to cart abandonment. 

The best thing that you can do right now takes advantage of this by implementing email automation software and sending out automated emails reminding visitors about their abandoned carts while increasing conversions at the same time!

c). Optimize Your PPC Campaigns: 

Your Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns might not currently be performing as well as they should, so why not optimize them for increased conversions? 

There are many different ways in which you can do this, but it all starts with the basics.

d). Improve Your Site Speed: 

Faster page load speeds can increase conversions because visitors are more likely to convert if they see improved site speed on your website. 

This is especially true for mobile users who have less patience than desktop users! 

You need to ensure that you implement a WordPress caching plugin in order to speed up your site and improve conversion rates.

e.) Use Social Proof:

Social proof is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to increasing sales conversions. 

It’s used by many brands online including Amazon (which uses “Customers Who Bought X Also Bought”) which has helped them become among the world’s largest retailers. 

Using social proof will help to convince your visitors that they are making the right choice by purchasing from you.

f). Reduce Your Forms: 

Reducing friction on your site will help to improve conversions, and one of the easiest ways to do this is by reducing forms wherever possible. 

This means cutting down how many fields there are in order to make converting as easy for users as possible! 

g). Increase Email Open Rates: 

Email open rates can play a huge role when it comes to improving conversion rates because every click that occurs within an email is another chance of somebody coming to your site and making a purchase. 

One of the best ways to increase open rates is by implementing an email marketing automation software system, which will allow you to send out automated emails that are personalized based on previous actions taken within your sales funnels!

h). Test Your Headlines: 

You should always be testing different headlines for each page because there could easily be something better than what you currently have in place. 

Not only does this help with conversion rates but it can also improve branding if done correctly. 

I.). Try Different Landing Pages: 

This may seem like common sense, but many people fail to test their landing pages when they don’t see any conversions occurring. However, every marketer knows that just because one thing doesn’t work once, doesn’t mean that it never will.

Wrapping up

Up to this point, you have everything you need to start an online store in South Africa for free.

You have learned the two proven ways used by everyone else to create websites for free.

Additionally, you have the strategies you can use to pump up store traffic, and then ways to convert the traffic to money in your pocket.

Again, if you want a custom store domain, go ahead and order here. And remember to include hosting, it comes with the tools you will need to get started fast.

Read also: How to Write Product Descriptions for Your Online Store in South Africa

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