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Heavy Chef December Session Review: Zando, Kalahari And Yuppiechef On E-commerce Posted in Heavy Chef News, Concocted by Wendy Tayler, 6 comments
Published on 18 December 2012

Our final Heavy Chef event of 2012 featured three of the most talked about E-commerce sites in South Africa – Zando, and Yuppiechef. As always, Fred kicked off the evening with the now famous Heavy Chef story, and introduced the speakers for the evening; Kate Jansen, Marketing co-ordinator at Zando, Jenna Bloch, Head of Marketing at, and Andrew Smith, co-founder and Managing Director of Yuppiechef.

AndrewJansen started off explaining that E-commerce is still a baby in the womb – at least in South Africa. 50% of Europeans are now shopping online, therefore the growth opportunities here are huge. With regards to E-commerce here, things are changing rapidly – starting with expectations. One of the most interesting statistics is that an E-commerce site has 23 seconds to register a new client before they are lost forever. Because of this, convenience is not negotiable - it is a top priority. Online shoppers are demanding choice, speed and convenience, as they want all their needs met in one, easy place.

Kate explains that one of Zando’s biggest challenges is finding out how to show everything and market everything effectively, with so many products. People also want a human experience online – so the people who can master this will be the real winners. Merchandising is now “searchandising” – you’ve got to realise how E-commerce is changing. Brands needs to treat social as the heart of their business. The quick success of Zando meant that they had to hire a new marketing team with exceptional skills.

Kate sums up the five musts for an E-commerce site: Search, Filters, Navigation, Find-ability/demand, and Personalization. Get these right because in E-commerce, new clients are 3 times more expensive to obtain. Loyalty fosters sustainability, and sustainability attracts investment.

Jenna Bloch from Kalahari begins by revealing that Kalahari started off by selling VHS tapes online. They now have 8 million products online, which means they are prepared for the expected explosion of E-commerce in 2013 for South Africa. Jenna says that E-commerce sites need to accommodate the hunter and the gatherer, by merging the physical and the virtual. People are still anxious about online shopping and they need to become comfortable with this concept. has found that mobile traffic is high, but mobile conversion is low – so their new focus is mobile E-commerce interfaces. The newest form of E-commerce is now T-commerce (tablet shopping) – used the same way as a mobile – but with an obsession with apps. Therefore has now released a scan&shop app, available for tablets. This is said to bridge the gap between online and offline; scan offline and buy online.

Last up was Andrew Smith, co-founder and Managing Director of Yuppiechef. He explains the story of how they started off as a garage project and in less than 6 years, have built up to be one of the leading online stores in South Africa for kitchen appliances. He admits that in the first few months, their sales were only made to family and friends – as many startups are. Yuppiechef was so surprised and grateful for their first ‘real’ order that they sent a hand-written note. This traditional still continues today. With a 55 strong team, 5 of those employees are full-time card writers! It becomes obvious that the willingness for a loss on a sale in the beginning, has set Yuppiechef apart in terms of commitment to succeed. Andrew encourages the crowd by saying that there are plenty of niches in online shopping, and therefore lots of opportunities to succeed – something other E-commerce stores can learn from. Andrew asks the question, what are the products that people like to buy, but cannot get in South Africa? How can we bridge the gap? It just starts with you and an idea. When you make the sale, you can buy the stock. Andrew provides a word of hope for future garage startups; if it is possible selling kitchen tools, it’s possible with anything else! He urges online stores to remember that the physical package delivered is the only physical contact your customers has with you – so take care. Some great advice given was to let your competition speak about the industry, while you go and punt your business. Yuppiechef has an incredible track record with the online reporting site, “Hello Peter” – 99% percent of their reports are compliments while only 1% are complaints. Andrew says this can be attributed to the fact that when you genuinely care about every customer, it isn’t that difficult.

A huge thank you to all who attended our E-commerce session, and a special thank you to the ongoing support of our sponsors, Deloitte who provide the stunning venue, Backsberg who supply the flow of delicious, eco-friendly wine, Nokia for the fantastic Lumia 900 phones that are given to our top Tweeters, and Channel Mobile for the SMS reminders that ensure our crowds are up to date with the events. This has been a great year of growth for The Heavy Chef Project, and it wouldn’t be the same without you all on board with us.

Read more posts by Wendy Tayler

Wendy Tayler

Wendy is the Editor in Chief at Heavy Chef. After 3 years cooking up a storm at UNISA studying English and Communications, Wendy decided to mesh her passion for writing with her love of digital. She firmly believes the world is moving into the online sphere and can be found writing, tracking down great names for interviews, or singing her heart out at the World Wide Creative studio.

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Related posts:

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  2. Heavy Chef Session: E-commerce in South Africa is a rising tide
  3. Heavy Chef July videos: ‘How To Build An E-Commerce Company’
  4. Heavy Chef Session: M-commerce With Angus Robinson And Jon Hoehler
  5. team expose an e-commerce fraudster

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  1. hbrand says

    Looks like this was a stunning evening! I have met Jenna before, a great personality and super-committed to their business.

  2. Wendy Tayler says

    One of the best events yet!

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