How social e-commerce can support fairer conditions for small-scale farmers

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Small-scale farmers face an uphill battle in a system where products pass through multiple intermediaries before reaching retail stores, eating into profit margins. Meanwhile, consumers, affected by escalating food and fuel costs, are seeking better prices and more direct connections with producers. The solution to both challenges may lie in innovative group-buying platforms.

Group buying, or “social e-commerce,” platforms enable individual consumers to coordinate purchases, benefiting from group discounts. SOLshop is an example of a group buying platform and collaborates directly with local farmers and producers, offering lower-than-wholesale prices on food, household, and beauty products. Users form groups to access these deals and enjoy significant savings.

While the migration to e-commerce raises concerns for farmers, particularly in cost-intensive delivery systems, SOLshop addresses these challenges. Unlike traditional trading, online platforms eliminate biases, ensuring fair transactions. The unbiased nature of SOLshop creates a safe space for smaller farmers to engage in fairer transactions.

Jonathan Holden, COO of Solshop, says, “The SOLshop marketplace is not only about group buying, but also about better markets to sell agricultural and other products. Social e-commerce is an ideal opportunity for farmers and local producers to sell their products directly through the platform. In a world where the cost of living is rising, SOLshop provides a practical solution for individuals to buy in bulk and save while supporting the farm-to-table movement.”

This simplified process puts farmers in direct contact with new markets, increasing profit margins and potentially reducing wastage, transportation, storage, and logistics costs. Consumers benefit from lower prices and authentic connections with local producers and produce.

Holden believes that if these effects are sustainably realised, it could transform the agricultural sector, removing barriers for prospective small-scale farmers in South Africa and beyond.

In South Africa, SOLshop leads the social e-commerce market, connecting wholesalers and customers in a friendly ecosystem. The SOLshop app offers daily discounts on hundreds of products, contributing to the platform’s rapid growth. With a large delivery zone and numerous pickup points around Johannesburg, SOLshop continues to connect consumers with low prices and local producers, potentially revolutionising the agricultural landscape.