ONLINE classified shopping has just been made a little easier and much safer, says the developer of a new online purchasing website service launched yesterday.
Port Elizabeth entrepreneur Martin Reynolds says the launch of the Shepherd service will allow for safe and secure financial transactions between buyers and sellers on various platforms.
Reynolds, 38, managing director of Shepherd, said the first South African true escrow service – a way of a third party holding funds in trust for buyers and sellers – would ensure more benefits and enable more trustworthiness for prospective buyers.
“When purchasing online, the major concerns are personal safety issues,” he said.
“There is always the risk when exchanging money for goods and where to meet is one of them.”
Reynolds said that 56% of users on the online classifieds service Gumtree were women.
It was these concerns which led to the development of the Shepherd service concept.
“I thought about how to solve this problem and the need for someone [a third party] to facilitate the transaction” he said.
The escrow service offered by Shepherd would hold payments for online purchases in trust.
The goods would then be delivered from the seller to the prospective buyer and only when the buyer had inspected and accepted the item would Shepherd release the money to the seller.
“What makes Shepherd unique is the fact that [we] have partnered with Ram couriers to ensure the buyer is satisfied with the item.
“This eliminates personal contact [between buyer and seller] and makes the whole process much safer,” Reynolds said.
Backed by Standard Bank and Gumtree, Shepherd is said to provide a seamless and secure online purchasing experience.
Head of business and commercial banking at Standard Bank, Craig Polkinghorne, said while e-commerce continued to grow in South Africa, the biggest concern for online shoppers remained the availability of secure payment platforms.
“We found it fitting to support Shepherd’s escrow service as it aligns with Standard Bank’s commitment constantly to deliver safe and convenient banking platforms and solutions to customers,” Polkinghorne said.