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E-Comm Business Interview: Jacques du Toit

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Welcome to this e-comm business case study! Today we had the pleasure of interviewing a serial entrepreneur named Jacques du Toit, who started an online student bookstore in 2009. I can say honestly that our conversation was quite entertaining and enlightening. Our hope is that you find this interview to be inspiring as you seek to start and grow your very own online brand!

Interview with Jacques du Toit

Thank you for joining us for this e-commerce business success story! We’d like to start by getting an understanding of your backstory. How did you come to own your business?

I started my student bookstore and publishing business in 2009, in my second year at university. We were trying to drastically cut the cost of books to the end user and make the process way more efficient. We’ve been going strong ever since.

Terrific! Now, this article is about profiling successful e-commerce businesses. So – can you share your top 3 keys to running a successful online brand?

My top three would be as follows:

  1. Make sure you set up your online store correctly. We use Shopify and we spent the time to research the best ways to set up and this saved us endless amounts of pain down the line. Something as simple as NOT loading all your product items in one shot, but rather staggering them over a week or two, drastically increases your rankings for the Shopify algorithm.
  2. Invest in learning and enabling ad spend. We had a loyal fanbase before we launched our online component, so people just naturally flocked online. However, once we figured out how to run ads and successfully target, this increased our bottom line to quite a bit. Focus on a max of three platforms and go where you customers spend the most time.
  3. Make sure your staff and fulfillment teams get adequate training and know what to expect in order to efficiently process customer orders and how to handle returns and other issues that might arise during the entire supply chain.

Excellent. Now, I’m sure it hasn’t always been that easy. Can you tell a story about one challenge, setback, or mistake that you’ve had to overcome on the road to success? How can others learn from your mistakes?

Choose your site admin carefully and once again, do your research before implementation. The person we assigned made a lot of executive decisions with regards to master data which had dire consequences, since we deal with products that change over time, except we want to keep the old products visible and redirect them. Due to naming conventions, we started ranking for random product names as opposed to what people are actually searching for online.

Thanks for that. Now – we want to know what’s next! What new initiatives are you rolling out at your business and what results are you hoping to see? 

Right now we’re cleansing our master data and we’re adding a more streamlined reporting approach, to make it easy to consolidate sales and order data between our multiple sales channels. This will cut down hours every week and we’re hoping to free up time so we can focus on growing our business.

Sounds exciting! Any final words of advice for our readers?

Yes – go slow and continuously improve. Online sites take on a life of its own, so listen to your customers and get their input on how your offerings can be improved.

Brilliant! We want to thank you for participating in today’s interview. Hopefully our readers agree that there is a lot to be learned from your brand’s story. What links can our readers use to follow along with your journey?The best way to keep in touch is to visit my blog (, where I teach people how to earn more, spend less and invest for financial independence or check out our Shopify store at if you want to get some inspiration for our e-commerce store. Another great resource on the road to financial independence is our niche blog, all about frugality, at


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