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How ecommerce pioneers built household name in South Africa

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Andrew Smith and neighbour Shane Dryden founded Yuppiechef, South Africa’s most loved online store, in 2006. The pair had been working on a couple ideas, including a business selling flags and bug zappers, but decided to run with Yuppiechef.

Started from Andrew’s living room – selling just 32 products from a single brand – Yuppiechef now stocks over 500 brands and thousands of products from all over the world. From cookware to craft beer, they stock everything you need to cook and entertain at home.

Yuppiechef was one of the first companies in South Africa to use Xero and they’ve stuck with it over the years. It makes life easier and jobs quicker, most importantly it integrates seamlessly with their systems.

Starting from scratch

Ecommerce wasn’t thriving in 2006 but Andrew and Shane spotted a gap in the market. People wanted more than what was available to buy in store… One of their first and most popular products was a brand of tongs that a chef friend had expressed an interest in.

It took a year to get their first 200 customers. Andrew notes that the business faced all sorts of challenges; sourcing packaging, finding delivery companies who could distribute, and establishing ways of receiving payment: “We were, in many ways, pioneers in starting something from scratch”.

A tech solution

Yuppiechef needed an accounting solution that was flexible enough to support the needs of their small business.

“We’re a retailer but we’re also very much a tech company,” explains Andrew. “Everything from the website to the warehouse systems, to our point of sale, we built ourselves. It all ends up integrating into Xero and that integration has been quite a key reason that we chose and stuck with Xero.”

The obvious choice

“I really appreciate the attention to detail. Like capturing a date – you press tab and it fills the rest of the date in for you. These things show that people care about what they’ve produced,” says Andrew.

“Everyone in the building has invoice draft access only, so people can claim their own expenses or put in invoices. From an accounting perspective I really like being able to reconcile every single line,” notes Warren Hawkins, Yuppiechef’s Finance Manager.

“Over the years we’ve had a lot of people come and have a look at Xero: how we’re using it and would we recommend it to them. We’ve always said that if you’re a small to medium business, Xero seems the obvious choice.”

Taking on the world

“I’ve recommended Xero to a lot of people including accounting friends, and they now run their accounting businesses off it as well. It’s definitely something I evangelise about,” says Andrew.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we have built. We’re really excited about where we can go from here and how we can take this Cape Town South African business to the rest of the world.”

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