Aspiring E-commerce Entrepreneurs, Here's How To Build Your Own Online Store

Aug 17, 2021
Aspiring E-commerce Entrepreneurs, Here's How To Build Your Own Online Store

Published by Heavy Chef and written by Mwabi Motaung

There’s no two ways about it, e-commerce is fast becoming the preferred way for people to shop. A recent report by Mastercard confirms that more than half of South Africa’s consumers now confidently shop online. While this sharp increase in adoption is most certainly a result of the current pandemic, there’s no denying that the cat’s out of the bag and there’s going back.

Online shopping has massive advantages for both consumers and business owners. Shopping online offers more choices, more convenience and massive savings to both the person buying and the person selling. These perks mean that a business that wants to grow needs to have an online presence and, ultimately, somewhere for people to purchase their product or service. But there are tricks to this trade.

Warrick Kernes is one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject of e-commerce in South Africa, and certainly the right person to learn these tricks from. The CEO of the Insaka eCommerce Academy is a serial entrepreneur himself and has been playing in the e-commerce space for over a decade now - giving him an innate understanding of how e-commerce works from an expert’s perspective and from a business owner’s perspective.

He founded The Insaka eCommerce Academy in 2017 with the aim of sharing this knowledge and empowering South African entrepreneurs with quality e-commerce training that they can use to start their own e-commerce businesses.

Still to this end, Warrick is hosting a live 5 Day Challenge this week where he’ll teach participants everything they need to know to start, build and launch an online store. This easy to follow action plan is an absolute must for anyone looking to create a new income, start a new online business, take a profitable side hustle full time, or even grow an existing business. We spoke to Warrick about his passion for e-commerce and how people can take part in his e-commerce challenge.

Warrick, what's your background - and why so passionate about e-commerce?
I stumbled onto e-commerce in 2008 when I finished my business studies degree and moved over to the UK. I was looking for just about any job so that I could pay my rent and I ended up joining a young startup that exploded online over the next few years. My contribution to that growth led to me being recognised as the Young Businessman of 2009 at the HSBC business awards. My confidence was bolstered and my newfound experience in e-commerce helped me to see the opportunity to move back home to SA and to start my own online business.

In order to do that though, I had to move back in with my parents in 2010 and I put everything I had into inventory and marketing for my new site. Sales started to come in and after 3 years of blood, sweat and tears, I hit my first R1m month. The business grew from there but it was tough as the e-commerce industry was young and there was zero support, mentorship and community. I made a lot of mistakes and paid a lot of school fees time and time again.

My success led to a lot of people approaching me for advice on how they could start an online business too. I had worked tirelessly over the years to find the answers to these same questions and although I had the answers they were looking for, I didn’t have the time to really and truly help them. So in 2017, I sold my business - which at the time was doing over R20m in annual sales online - and I dedicated myself to helping other entrepreneurs to achieve success with selling online. My vision is to help others to have what I wish I had when starting out; mentorship, guidance, the best training and a community to help guide them towards success faster.


Can you share a little about Insaka? What is the problem it's aiming to solve?
Referred to by one student as “the solution to South Africa’s struggling online entrepreneur” Insaka is committed to helping entrepreneurs to start and grow their own online businesses. With over a decade of e-commerce experience, we want to share our knowledge with others to help you to avoid the mistakes we made and to accelerate your learning, growth and success online. Insaka has already helped thousands of entrepreneurs to achieve more success online and we are proud to have been approved as Africa's only Shopify Education Partner and only one of a few worldwide.

On the Insaka website, you’ll find a wide range of free valuable resources to get you started and to help you no matter where you are in your e-commerce journey. We also offer a selection of super high-value step-by-step video courses for those wanting to maximize their time and fast track their success.

Can you tell us about your accreditation with Shopify?
My signature training program called YOUR ONLINE STORE teaches South African entrepreneurs how to start, build, launch and grow their own e-commerce business even if they have no prior experience.

I share my 14 years of experience and guide them step by step to understand the foundations for success, how to build their own site and how to grow their sales. The training is done online via video training so it can be done at their own pace and at a time that suits them but it is also supported by live support and community support from fellow students and alumni who’ve previously built successful businesses using the same training.

I teach how to use the two best e-commerce platforms in the world being WordPress and Shopify. Since Insaka has been a Shopify Partner for many years they asked to assess our course content and we were thrilled when they certified the training as one of only a few courses worldwide that are official Shopify Education Programs. This is the only program with this certification in Africa and there is nothing else like this as it focuses on overcoming all the challenges which are specific to South African entrepreneurs.

Why is e-commerce such an important topic for entrepreneurs to learn going forward?
E-commerce has been growing steadily over the years but it has boomed recently as COVID led to consumers fundamentally changing their shopping behaviour. This growth has maintained itself and is expected to continue over the coming years. At the same time, starting an online business is easier now than ever before as entrepreneurs can start the business in their spare time before committing full time. The risk is also lower than many other businesses as you can start with little capital and you don’t need to invest everything you have to be able to test your business idea. In comparison to other countries, e-commerce in SA is still in its infancy so this is still a great time to get into the market.

What is the new course you're offering this August?
I am hosting my famous Free 5 Day Challenge where I show you how to build your online store in just 30 minutes per day over the course of five days, even if you have no prior experience!

Here’s everything you’ll discover when you join me for the free challenge:

  • Discover how to easily register your website on the leading e-commerce platform;
  • Learn how to simply upload your products onto your site ( and use our product pack if you don't have your own products yet!);
  • Uncover how to quickly set up a payment gateway on your site so that you can officially start taking credit card payments;
  • Discover the easiest way to design a stunning home page for your site;
  • And learn how to turn your site on so that it’s Live on the internet and ready to start making sales!

You can do all of this for free even if you have no experience with websites! All it will take is between 15 - 30 minutes on each of the five days. It's easier than you think - I’ll show you.

How can Heavy Chef community members get involved?
Book your free ticket to the challenge here.