Digital Marketing Agency South Africa | Odette Butcher

Odette Butcher | eCommerce Agency South Africa

Female Entrepreneur helps businesses switch to ecommerce as Covid threatens livelihoods

The last time Odette Butcher saw the world of business change before her eyes, it was 2001 and two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers in New York. She was working on the London trading floor and watched, stunned as the stock markets plummeted all around the world and businesses folded in the blink of an eye.

Fast forward 19 years and Butcher is a successful entrepreneur and marathon adventurer, running in some of the toughest terrain in the world – until the Covid-19 pandemic brought her to a standstill. “This pandemic has completely blindsided me and my business. I would never have thought that one day I would wake up and my precious income (solely reliant on travel, hospitality and events) would be switched off like a tap,” she said.

Butcher is the owner of Celestial Gift Experiences, a business that sells extraordinary gift experiences, reliant on tourism & hospitality in order to operate.  The rise in Covid-19 infections around the world caused countries around the world to restrict movement, and close borders – effectively ending any chance Butcher had of continuing business as usual.

One does not run on the ice of the Arctic Circle, the stone bricks of the Great Wall of China and the simmering sand of the Petra Desert in Jordan without being as tough as nails. In the face of the pandemic Butcher has transformed herself and built a new business in a way that is helping other businesses adapt to the shifting digital landscape across the globe.

As the South African economy takes the hits and grapples with worsening economic conditions, and in the month of August that honours strong women in South Africa, Butcher has launched eCommerce Virtual Services, a company that helps businesses and individuals take their services online, seamlessly and hassle-free.

According to a Nielsen study on the impact of Covid-19, 37% of respondents said they are shopping more online. The restrictions in travel and movement these days has forced businesses to reach clients online.

“I believe, and experience teaches me, that ‘recession’ is in the mind. I look to nature when I’m struggling with a scarcity mindset. When left alone, nature has this incredible and magical way of displaying bounty and consistently replenishes ‘stock’,” Butcher says. “With enthusiasm, positivity and a focused mind, I was able to increase my turnover during and after the 2008 recession by 500% and this is with a business model that satisfies a ‘want’ and not an essential ‘need’.”

Butcher’s fearless & agile approach to life as an adventure runner helps her understand risk, and how to transform it into an advantage and a moment of learning.

“My adventures bring great perspective to many areas of my life. By the simple act of merely placing one foot in front of the other, I have completed all my races which were once but a dream.  Achieving our goals and realising our dreams are very doable by taking one step at a time. Know what you want, have goals (dreams) and achieve them step by step,” she says.

Pivoting to digital has become a buzzword for businesses in a time of Covid-19. Many who failed to make the transition in time have paid the ultimate price for it. Butcher wants to prevent more businesses from failing when success is so easily attainable by working smartly online.

“Digital transformation support is essential for all those who are 40+ and who need to reinvent and sustain themselves until they can afford to retire. Sheltered employment is gone as we embark on outcome-based income which takes a massive mind-shift,” she says. “The beauty of digitising ourselves, services or products is that we are no longer location dependent, we can reach people beyond the borders of South Africa. Ecommerce is booming. I’ve also noticed a need to simplify ecommerce as its extremely overwhelming and complicated.”

Butcher’s eCommerce Virtual Services is poised to break new ground in the way that it assists other business in a time of great distress. It is something she has been preparing for all her life. Born in Canada and raised in Cape Town when her parents emigrated in the 1980s, Butcher has been at the forefront of her family’s business, helping and serving clients since the age of 8. She understands the risks involved, and the commitment needed to sustain a successful business within a fragile economy.

“Our family business was successful for 25 years before we had to close it due to my father having advanced Parkinson’s disease. The business was up against competition such as Pick n Pay and Checkers and succeeded because we offered exceptional customer service and first-class quality fresh produce.”

eCommerce Virtual Services offers a YouTube channel to teach business people how to become more comfortable in the digital space. “I will share mind before business bullets on how to ready our minds for business as well as digital transformation tips so that we can apply them. There are lots of courses on all things digital, but not much that I can find on getting our minds into gear as we embark on our digital transformation journey,” she says.

To speak to Odette Butcher and her team, contact eCommerce Virtual Services on ~



About The Bucket List Genie

Everyone has a bucket list of things they want to do in their lifetimes, whether it is a single momentous achievement or a long list of experiences they want to mark off to say "been there, done that". Odette is one of those people with a bucket list that reads like a phone book and she wholeheartedly chases down every adventure.

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