Omnichannel retail — our vision for the future — About Yuppiechef Retail Stores
It has been 13 years since we shipped the first Yuppiechef order. What started as two good friends and only 32 products in a lounge in Plumstead, Cape Town, is now a growing team of more than 140 and over 8,600 products from 700 of the world's leading brands. Today Yuppiechef is South Africa's premier kitchen and homeware store.
More than a decade on, we've really enjoyed being part of pioneering South Africa's ecommerce industry. During those early days in 2006, ecommerce enabled us to start a retail business with no stock, staff or expensive rentals. We built it all ourselves and did it our own way, figuring it out as we went and learning every day what it meant to deliver world-class service.
We still love selling online — the huge range we can offer, delivery to every corner of the country and 24/7 convenience. For a long time we believed that ecommerce was the future of retail, and that eventually this channel would “win” and the others would “die”.
We were wrong.
The future of retail is 'omnichannel'
As we've grown and changed with the market, we learnt that for many South Africans shopping is still a favourite past-time — spending a Saturday at a mall, meeting friends and eating out. We've also come to realise that, for many of our customers, there's a lot to be said of the physical shopping experience when buying certain products — browsing, getting advice, physically holding an item in one's hand, and the immediacy of the purchase. Shops and malls are not going to disappear any time soon.
We believe that the future of retail is 'omnichannel', which means a combination of physical stores and ecommerce. Our customers shouldn't have to see Yuppiechef as either an online retailer or a physical store, and no channel has to win or lose. We are a single retail brand, and anyone should have the freedom to interact with us on their own terms, whenever and wherever they are.
We want to reach as many people as we can, because we believe that quality kitchen tools and ingredients can change the way you feel about being in the kitchen and help you be a better cook.
That's why we're opening retail stores.
Yuppiechef customers are now able to browse a product online and then come into a store to make a final decision and walk away with their purchase. They can browse in a store, but then have their order delivered to their homes to avoid carrying it around. Customers can stand in a store and scan QR codes using their mobile phones to see product reviews or videos that will help them make a final decision. Through the combination of our online and physical stores our customers have access to a huge range, bigger than any single store.
Pioneering retail through tech and design innovation
In 2017, we asked the renowned interior design firm, ARRCC, to help us hone the style and finishes of our first retail space. It resulted in a beautiful store at Willowbridge, with a top quality sales team and world-class products.
Since then, our design capability has moved completely in-house. We've made big technological advances in both the design process of each store, and the in-store experience for customers.
Our team has successfully created 3D models of our stores. These help us plan ancillary store items like stock depth, budgets, marketing plans and replenishment stock flow. What's more, we've built fully-immersive virtual reality (VR) models of our stores that anyone in our team can use to get a feel for and test store layouts long before they're actually built.
Paul Tyler, our partner from leading shopfitters, RMS Shopfitting, says that in his 25 years in the industry he's never come across this level of advanced technological design.
"The VR experience is completely life-like in the fact that you can stand in the store and look at detail that might be problematic in the real world. It allows you to solve issues that you wouldn't necessarily be able to do off a drawing. The detail also includes the lighting, which can be adjusted according to requirements in virtual reality. It's incredible!" — Paul Tyler, RMS Shopfitting
Early on in our store design process, we also made the bold decision to develop our own mobile point-of-sale (POS) software. We did this because we wanted to serve our customers anywhere in our stores — no queues and faster service. We built on the exact same system as our online store, meaning everything — from product and order information, to prices and stock availability — is available to all stores in real-time. Using our mobile POS, we're able to order an item which might not be in the store, process a return or refund, and help customers pay with a number of options. It's one of the first of its kind in South Africa and the response from our customers has been phenomenal.
We're excited about the new opportunities our omnichannel strategy is opening up for us and we'll continue to innovate in order to deliver the world's best shopping experience for our customers.