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  • Writer's pictureGrant Brown

Over a Decade of Fashion with Zando in South Africa

Zando is one of the leading online fashion stores in South Africa and is part of the Jumia Group. One of the stand-out qualities of our e-commerce site is the wide range of brands and products available to customers. But while this creates an all-inclusive online shopping experience, we’ve always been aware of consumers' category-specific demands that require special attention.

The onset of fashion and e-commerce fusion in South Africa

Zando App

When we started serving the South African market, we quickly noticed that customers looking for fashion products had unique behavioral patterns. Firstly, they wanted an equivalent to the experience in physical retail outlets but with more convenience.

Secondly, they’d seen popular international brands setting up direct-to-consumer platforms and become used to buying from websites built explicitly for fashion products. Thirdly, they had encountered retailers offering products from various local and international brands with constantly updated catalogs.

So with plenty of fashion brands soon to pour into this nascent space, we had to do much more to win over most customers.

Trailblazing with Zando

In response to these growing consumer trends, we rolled out an e-commerce platform called Zando, which would be dedicated to fashion. The next step was tackling the momentous task of bringing many unique vendors onto the platform. This would be quite the challenge since many brands are very particular about how they are perceived online and their participation in value addition.

Our team used a two-pronged onboarding approach, encouraging tailored partnerships based on the nature and scale of a prospective vendor’s operations. The first option involved obtaining bulk stock from bigger brands with mass production capabilities for traditional online retail on Zando. Alternatively, smaller brands could get their products listed online via Zando’s marketplace offering.

However, this bi-directional strategy would also address other aspects besides order fulfillment. For example, you need high-quality visuals to sell fashion products online since they help highlight details like color, texture, fit, material, stitching, pleats, eyelets, soles and more. Without them, customers may not feel confident enough to buy.

For brands lacking the resources and expertise to consistently produce these images, we set up a studio they could utilize for e-commerce product photo shoots. And for those with the capacity, we clearly stipulated the standards they should meet, be it dimensions, angles, resolutions, contrast and more.

Additionally, we examined the marketing tactics that some brands were applying, such as limited editions and seasonal releases. Consequently, our team provided the web features required to emulate these techniques, like the ability to sell particular styles and ranges exclusively through Zando.

Zando team celebrating 10 years anniversary

Learning and impacting customers

Our advanced strategies have resulted in a large assortment of fashion products from over 1000 brands, spanning several categories like womenswear, menswear, sports, kids and baby clothing, homeware and more. So whether you need a tracksuit and sneakers for your street look, a summer dress and sunglasses for brunch, or a bikini for a pool party, Zando is your fashion destination.

We’ve created a platform where every customer can get every product they need, whether driven by utility, the pursuit of style, comfort or any other fashion requirement. Furthermore, we’ve brought all the e-commerce perks that speak to fashion shoppers. For example, customers enjoy a convenient and affordable experience with free delivery nationwide on minimum spend of R400, and free and easy returns within 14 days.

We also offer multiple secure payment methods, including Cash On Delivery (COD), giving customers more flexibility and fostering trust. Lastly, we’ve reimagined the fashion shopping experience based on learnings from consumer behavior. For example, while we already understood that fashion is a powerful self-expression medium, customers reinforced the need for a revised marketing mix.

Our team had to engage them more and reveal the stories behind various product collections and how they speak to customers’ intentions. This would include omnichannel communication encompassing prominent and emerging social platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. In addition, the communication highlighted other details like brand origin and sustainability efforts for those who want to support local brands or environmentally-friendly producers.

We also brought more micro-influencers into the fold so that even the smallest segments of our audience receive resonant messages. Our martech experts established continuity all the way to our platform. From seeing a complete look you like on our Instagram, then finding the product on our platform surrounded by recommended items from that look, all driven through product curation and machine learning.

Our platform harnesses the power of personalization, ultra-specific categorization, predictive search and user-generated content to ensure that wherever you are on our platform, the experience is seamless and relevant to your fashion needs. If you’re all about the latest releases, the new arrival section is auto-updated with the latest products, and if you like to go brand-by-brand, each brand’s collection is clearly laid out.

The bottom line is that we transcend variety, ensuring that we facilitate whichever way you prefer to shop. We also make sure that all information regarding promotions and discounts on products you like reaches you on time via your preferred communication channel.

And if you need some guidance, we have a robust live chat feature augmented by a highly knowledgeable and resourceful customer support team.

Impacting the broader South African fashion industry

While many of the abovementioned efforts are very customer-focused, they've also left their mark on brands that partner with Zando. These vendors can access and thoroughly analyze an array of pertinent data points. Consequently, they gain actionable insights regarding every facet of the customer journey influencing business success.

Local Fashion Style

Over time, they've become more aware of the importance of online visibility and how to gain it, capitalize on payment methods, discounting, exclusivity and urgency, imaging and product information, and many other techniques.

Ultimately, Zando’s decade-long run has helped further a more enlightened set of customer-centric fashion brands and showed customers that there's no limit to making them feel understood. As a result, we have created an environment that caters to hundreds of thousands of active users who we believe will continue bringing out the best in us.


Grant Brown

CEO of Zando

Grant joined Jumia in March 2012 as CEO of Zando South Africa. Moving to the UK in 2001 Grant started his career in fashion logistics with Italian jeans company Miss Sixty. He joined UK streetwear brand Boxfresh in 2003 where he was exposed to an End-to-End fashion supply chain. Boxfresh was acquired by Pentland brands in 2005 and Grant headed the integration of its operations to Pentland Brands.

His final position in the UK was that of Supply Chain Manager for the UK office of Icer Brands - an international licensee and distributor for celebrity brands like Beyoncé’s House of Dereon and Nelly’s Apple Bottom Jeans before returning to South Africa and joining Jumia.

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