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 SA’s “Digital Pitbull” introduces lay-bys online

A South African young entrepreneur William Thubakgale known to most as the “Digital Pitbull” is at it again – this time he has launched Africa’s first online lay-by payment gateway. By Gugu Lourie

Thubakgale, a 22-year old Johannesburg-based entrepreneur, launched an online music streaming and download start-up site in 2012 called QPLAY.

The youngster born in Polokwane is also involved in a venture that allows customers to buy premium men’s wear online via http://poshpatterns.co.za/.

Thubakgale previously worked at a Digital Agency in Sandton, Johannesburg. He resigned to focus and further his entrepreneurial skills.

Layby Cafe, his latest venture, is an online payment gateway similar to your Payfast and PayU, but it only specializes in lay-by transactions.

It enables easy, secure and auto managed lay-by management services from online buyers to sellers.  Buyers now have the option of ordering online. All they have to do is pay a substantial deposit on their order to secure it. After that the buyer will pay the agreed installment to settle the balance.

This platform is for customers who cannot afford to pay cash for their goods online.

“This technology is mainly targeted to the middle and lower LSM … they shop online but don’t always have money when they browse the various online stores in South Africa,” explains Thubakgale.

Layby Café was founded early in 2015.

The Lay-by method of purchasing has traditionally been offered in ordinary shops, but this method of payment for goods seems to have faded mainly due to the high administration costs involved.

Thubakgale says: “When we introduced Layby Café we ensured that all these administrative issues were handled by our system ensuring that the merchant keeps doing what they do best – selling.”

How did the Layby Café concept came about?

The Digital Pitbull says the idea came about after he received more than 50 customer emails a week enquiring if his ecommerce site – Posh Patterns – accepted Lay-by’s.

“Through this, we noticed how we always have to advertise our ecommerce store to get customers, but not all customers could afford to buy cash … thus we identified the need for lay-by orders online.”

Laby Café allow sellers – businesses to accept lay-bys from online buyers in a variety of ways.

It enables sellers to sell goods to their customers through lay-by, meaning, the customer makes a deposit to secure the goods then settles the balance over a specified period.

Customers shop at any online store and as they move to checkout they will have an option to checkout on lay-by by paying an initial deposit to secure the goods.

From there, the customer pays in installments and as soon as the balance is settled, the goods are released.

Layby Cafe ensures that customers’ monthly installments are reconciled in real time. Customers choose a term that is suitable for them from three to 12 months to pay for their goods.

The seller and the buyer through the Layby Cafe platform can view all the transactions made to them or by them at any time.

All the payments are handled automatically through Layby Cafe.

The platform is compatible with all major South African banks, which ensures convenience for buyers and sellers. This is likely to attract shoppers who don’t have credit cards or are restrained by EFT payments.

What’s more interesting is that Layby Café doesn’t charge any setup fees or monthly subscriptions. It only charges a fixed 3.5% per transaction processed on its platform.

What sets Layby Cafe apart from its peers or other start-ups in the same industry?

The Digital Pitbull explains: “We simply react to customer requests. We always have our ears on the ground to try and understand what our customers require. This ensures that we react quickly and efficiently to satisfy their online shopping needs.”

For now, Thubakgale is testing the platform and hasn’t approached big retailers.

He explains that Layby Café’s biggest online retailer at the moment is Posh Patterns as it is the first site the company used to introduce the system to customers.

“From thereon we started targeting small ecommerce stores with the aim of testing it in different environments and to monitor the customers’ reactions. We do not have any major stores like your TakeALot on board and the reason behind that is we are working to create a perfect system first then approach the mainstream.”

He says the reaction has been great from shoppers.

“Most of our traction comes from online fashion stores that offer our service to enable their customers to buy on lay-by,” says the Digital Pitbull.

Like most online payment gateways, Layby Café doesn’t have an app, but plugins for merchants to install on their ecommerce platforms.

When a customer transacts and chooses to pay through lay-by they are then redirected to Layby Café to complete the transaction.

Big retailers may have dumped the lay-by payment method, but the platform makes it relevant.

The Digital Pitbull says there are no real figures of how big the lay-by market in South Africa is.

“Our experience, six in 10 people that visit online stores do not afford what they are selling to them, thus we need to allow them an option of lay-by before they leave the site.”

Layby Café is likely to benefit both the shopper and ecommerce stores.

“Our contribution will be simple, allowing the buyer to transact even if they do not have the full amount at that moment,” says Thubakgale.

“This will simply increase conversion rates for the ecommerce stores ensuring that they have goods that are already secured through a substantial deposit paid by the customer.”

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