Smart Business in the time of eCommerce
A Hive Member Spotlight
SmartSentials offers you everyday essential items and food products that promote healthy living.
“There’s a lot of money in the streets.” – Lebohang Likhojane, Founder
SmartSentials began as a Fresh Produce stall aside a busy road somewhere in the Free State. Using some of his savings, Lebo Likhojane established the business with a group of friends. While wrapping up his university studies.
The thriving business’ foray into “thinking digital” came after Likhojane’s encounter with a future business associate. A “dude” who was studying branding at the time. Somewhere in Johannesburg, the duo discussed how they wished to evolve the platform into something that sells everyday essential items, in addition to the perishables they were already offering.
Shortly after that encounter, SmartSentials was born.
“[Up until then] I was just applying the stuff I learned in my studies.”
Business, since SmartSentials started
That was four years ago. Today, Likhojane notes that a lot has changed with regards to people’s attitudes towards digital transacting and the whole idea of buying groceries online. For example, he highlights that most South Africans used to be skeptical about making online payments, but stuff like user-friendly apps, educational marketing and collaboration across industries has managed to change public perceptions.
Another major shift was the recent lockdown. Before “Level” restrictions, SmartSentials only delivered to businesses and “offices”. When the lockdown laws came into effect, the business started receiving more and more requests from members of the general public. This increased pressure on the startup to begin offering a “For Home” range.
On going into eCommerce, Lebohang’s advice would be to not overthink it. At its core, the SmartSentials platform is merely an automation of what Likhojane’s original Fresh Produce stall aimed to do on the side of the road. Extra services such as delivery, new products and the online shopping function, were all added to improve the customer experience.
“In a way, going digital forces you to be customer-centric.”
What moves SmartSentials?
As a product, Smartsentials’ goals are pretty straightforward: To provide convenience and healthy options in a sector dominated by fast food. As a leader, Likhojane’s aim is to empower Africans and help other dreamers ‘Bridge the Digital Divide’.
The idea is that since a lot of jobs are becoming digital, the most valuable assistance we can share (with anyone) are the skills to survive the 4th Industrial Revolution. In SmartSential’s case, this means empowering vendors, manual labourers and home-builders with the skills to get ahead. It also means equipping entrepreneurs and modern professionals with all the business tricks he’s mastered along the way.
For example, did you know that a platform like SmartSentials doesn’t have to keep any groceries as stock? Talk about a “low-overhead” business.
Lebohang mentions this a bit more in the ‘Marketing & Sales in eCommerce’ session he recorded with us (video embedded at the end). Otherwise, for a more tangible feel of what we discussed, I’d suggest you checkout the SmartSentials platform (smartsentials.co.za) and buy yourself something smart. Maybe…
Through focusing on their eCommerce solution, this team has managed to build something refreshingly efficient. One that we only hope to see grow and flourish over time.