Q&A: SA online retailer Zando’s Manuel Koser

HumanIPO caught up with Manual Koser, the Managing Director and co-founder of Zando, a successful South African online clothing retailer.

HumanIPO reported a week ago Zando had reached 10 million South Africans since its launch in January last year and has since increased its product range. Koser told HumanIPO about how South Africans have taken to shopping online and the success of Zando.

HumanIPO: Why do the majority of South Africans prefer to shop in physical (bricks-and-mortar) stores as opposed to shopping online?

Koser: E-commerce is still in its infancy stage [in South Africa], faced by a few challenges like absence of touch and trust.

Do you think the accessibility of the Internet in SA plays a major role in online shopping?

Yes it does, but there are also a number of Internet users who do not know how to shop online. An education process needs to take place.

Are the majority of your customers from urban areas or cities rather than smaller towns and rural areas?

They are spread equally around major cities within South Africa. Our customers can be found in the smaller towns as well.

During the establishment of Zando, what were the biggest challenges faced with setting up an online retailer?

Planning for growth. One year later we have moved into our offices in Durham Avenue, Saltriver, Cape Town.

Is your largest competition online retailers both locally and internationally or is it local brick-and-mortar stores?

Since entering the South African market, there has been numerous bricks-and-mortar stores who have launched online stores. There is a big difference to being an online e-tailer and growing one’s focus from the traditional bricks-and-mortar model to e-commerce.

We offer a huge selection of local and international brands that you can get all over South Africa.

Other than the accessibility of the Internet in South Africa, what are the major concerns shoppers have regarding online shopping, in your findings?

One of the key questions that I see comes up on a few of the South African store websites is: where is your shop?

Does social media such as Facebook and Twitter have any impact on Zando in terms of awareness, advertising and customer communication?

Social media does play a big role in our customer communication and awareness. In October 2012 we achieved over 100,000 Facebook likes. (To date Zando is pushing 119,000 likes on Facebook).

Will Zando keep to clothing and accessories or does the company have plans to expand its product range further?

Zando will continue to grow its existing categories in order to provide the widest range. These are accessories, clothing, shoes, beauty, sports and home.

What in your opinion ensures the success of an online retailer, in terms of staff/team size, customer care, delivery and over all management of the business?

HR (Human Relations) – the right people for the job is key. Buying – providing our customers with the widest range. IT (Information Technology) – constantly upgrading User Interface. Operations – our customers are very important to our business. Every department needs to support this, and marketing.

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