Interview with Grant Brown, MD at Zando

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Interview with Grant Brown, MD at Zando


Founded by Rocket Internet AG in 2012 and part of the Jumia Group, Zando has grown exponentially to become South Africa’s biggest online fashion store with investors such as Rocket Internet AG, Milicom, MTN and a number of customer services, shopping process and best eCommerce store awards under its belt. We chat to Managing Director, Grant Brown, about the company’s journey so far and what we can expect from him and his team in the coming months.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Pragmatic, determined and optimistic

I cannot start my day without…

Breakfast, I am definitely one of those who believe that it’s the most important meal of the day.

Tell us a bit about your first week on the job at Zando

Back in 2012 I started as the Warehouse Manager and picking customer orders from a ton of boxes located on a warehouse floor managed by spreadsheets which included a lot of man hours. We were building a business at the time so these ‘roll up your sleeve and get your hands dirty’ moments have taught me a number of lessons of what can be achieved by grit and determination.

What sets Zando apart from other online retailers?

Zando is part of the Jumia Group, Africa’s leading internet group with a highly successful track record in revolutionising online shopping within emerging markets, and has a presence in over 14 African Countries. Zando’s passion for customer experience, knowledge in eCommerce, as well as our drive to innovate are the basis for our success that we share with investors such as MTN, Milicom, Rocket Internet, Goldman Sachs and CdC.

How has the ecommerce landscape changed since Zando was founded in 2012?

Trust, I believe that pure online players and now slowly some of the traditional brick and mortar retailers are offering a world class ecommerce offering. If I look at Zando we offer over seven ways to pay, can deliver to you within three hours in Cape Town, next day anywhere in South Africa and have a number of other delivery options which we consistently hit a 98% on time delivery KPI. We have a very user friendly native app and customer experience is and will always be one of our strategic objectives. Payment security, on time delivery and quality products together with other factors have developed a trusting relationship between the consumer and retailer that has historically not been there.

What are the main challenges and opportunities for ecommerce businesses in South Africa currently?

The greatest opportunity we see is the growth in the adoption of smartphones, historically we considered our addressable market to those that had internet access and if you fell in a certain economic demographic, now it is anyone who owns a smartphone as they are able to shop our 700 fashion brands at anytime from anywhere.

Is Black Friday an important date in the calendar for Zando?

Absolutely, we see a large amount of first time shoppers and our revenue during the month supersedes any other month by quite some margin. The internal preparation will start up to six months before hand and our aim is that the customer will have the same experience during Black Friday as they would at any other time when they visit our website except that they are getting the best fashion deals in South Africa at the time.

Will the VAT hike have any impact on Black Friday sales?

Zando has absorbed the VAT increase and has not passed this on to our customer which is in line with our Best Price Guaranteed offer.

How does Zando work with performance-based affiliate marketing?

We use affiliate marketing to convey messages about our seasonal collections, big sales, special offers and new arrivals. It is a win-win for us and the publishers who get paid commission not only for the successful sales they refer, but newsletter signups too. We make sure that our affiliate banners and mailers are always eye catching and will look good on any website, and are happy to make creatives for more niche sites as well. Promotions are especially effective, and earn publishers a high return on their efforts.

In what way does Zando utilise new technology to influence/improve the customer experience?

Personalisation is at the forefront of our marketing team’s initiatives and in the current world of excess it so important. We are consistently focusing on understanding our customer better so that we can deliver relevant content to an individual as opposed to a segmented group.

Most important lessons learnt from the past six years?

  • Make decisions fast
  • Building a good team is critical to building a good business

Six years running and Zando has certainly taken the spot as SA’s no1 online fashion retailer. What’s next?

The journey is only in the early stages, online fashion has so much more potential in South Africa and we are determined to become not only online, but one of South Africa largest fashion retailers.

Is the customer ALWAYS right?


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