Johannesburg - Online retailer Yuppiechef will open its first brick and mortar store next month in Cape Town. The store will debut at the Willowbridge Centre in the northern suburbs.
Yuppiechef co-founder Andrew Smith said he hoped that the new store would be the first of many.
The kitchen tool retailer said it had thrown its weight behind what it calls an "omnichannel" or a combination of physical stores and e-commerce.
“Customers shouldn’t have to see Yuppiechef as either an online retailer or a physical store,” Smith said in a statement. “No channel has to win or lose. Instead Yuppiechief is a single retail brand (and) customers should have the freedom to interact with us on their terms, whenever and wherever you are.”
He said the combination of online and physical stores would give Yuppiechef customers access to a huge range of products.
The popular online retailer is following in the footsteps of Amazon, which has opened a number of physical shops in the US. In addition Amazon bought retailer Whole Foods for R180.7bn ($13.6bn), showing that even the king of online has an interest in brick and mortar shopping.
While shopping statistics show that online shopping has eaten into the market share of traditional retailers, Amazon's decision to open physical shops shows it believes there is still lots of money to be made in a brick and mortar environment.
And Yuppiechef, looking for sales growth, appears equally eager to cash in on South Africans’ love affair with trendy malls.
Yuppiechef opened its online shop 11 years ago, when Smith shipped his first order from his lounge.
“E-commerce enabled us to start a retail business with no stock, staff or expensive rentals. We have grown into a team of 85, with a warehouse and thousands of products, and have enjoyed being part of a pioneering industry in South Africa,” he said.
Others would die
Smith said that for a long time the Yuppiechef team believed e-commerce was the future of retail and that eventually this channel would “win” and the others would “die”.
But Smith said the team had now realised that for many South Africans old-fashioned shopping was a favourite pastime.
“Some customers simply preferred the physical shopping experience — browsing, getting advice and the immediacy of the purchase,” he said. “Shops and malls are not going to disappear any time soon.”
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