Zulzi is a South African success story. Started in 2013 as an ecommerce platform to sell books and electronics, it has grown into an online powerhouse which supports the Checkers’ Sixty60 service.
Over the last few years Zulzi has delivered groceries of over R400 million and is now processing over 1,500 orders daily.
The company was founded by Vutlharhi “Donald” Valoyi eight years ago with the plan to improve the speed at which online shopping packages are delivered.
In 2015, they started to deliver books and electronics to students within an hour. The response from the market was exceptional with a rapidly growing user base.
Valoyi knew he was onto something big and it was time to expand.
Michael Netshipise joined Zulzi as chief technology officer and helped to make the dream of “delivering everything in your area within an hour” a reality.
Netshipise developed a platform which made it possible to order groceries, liquor, and pharmaceuticals and get it within 60 minutes.
The momentum continued and after reaching a turnover of R700,000 per month, Zulzi decided to raise R1 million from IDF Capital to support their future plans.
Their exceptional growth grabbed the attention of major retailers in South Africa, and they received calls from many retailers who wanted to partner to improve their online shopping experience.
Valoyi said the appetite that was shown by Checkers, who had no legacy systems at the time, was very appealing to them.
“We started to chat to them when they realised that we could build world class systems that address some of their complex problems,” said Valoyi.
One of the new features was the ability to replace products that are missing in real time – a big challenge in an online grocery space.
Zulzi proceeded to build a customer facing app, the engine that controls the catalogue of all their products, and a dashboard to manage the orders, users, and store managers.
The product was a tremendous success. People loved the service, and it quickly became the leader in the online grocery market.
“Sixty60 has been a huge success and an example of what we can do when we work together,” Valoyi said.
“Big corporations must be more flexible and be open to work with startups and allow them freedom to continue to grow.”
His advice to other big corporates is simple – give startups access to money and they will solve your problems of access to creativity and talent.
On the back of the successful Sixty60 project Zulzi raised R30,000,000 shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. This gave them adequate funding to execute their future plans.
Zulzi’s is now planning to further revolutionise the South African ecommerce market.
“We are planning to pioneer the quick ecommerce space in South Africa where you can get your products delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less,” said Valoyi.
“We want to take quick deliveries to the next level, and simultaneously work on making it more affordable.”
They are now strengthening their relationships with established fast-moving consumer goods retailers and improve access to small local companies.
These smaller companies can distribute their products using Zulzi’s “dark stores” and have access to the technology the company has built.
As part of the drive for better and faster ecommerce, the company is planning to launch the new Zulzi 2.0 in the coming days.