Kenyan fashion e-commerce start-up ShopZetu is set to add beauty and home décor categories to its portfolio, in response to the growth needs of young, style-conscious women in Africa. Indeed, it is currently scaling regionally over the next few months while striving to attract international fashion brands and more than tripling the number of sellers on its platform to 1,000.
The startup plans to test regional delivery services in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda beyond Kenya, where it launched in 2021, with $1 million in pre-seed funding it just closed.
“The goal is for ShopZetu to become the leading lifestyle platform. We are looking to expand our beauty, grooming, hairdressing and decoration offerings, all of which are expressions of our identity. We want to become a one-stop-shop,” said Marvin KiraguCEO of ShopZetu, who co-founded the startup with Wandia Gichurualso co-founder of the famous Kenyan fashion brand Long live.
The pre-seed round was led by Chui Ventures, with participation from Launch Africa, Roselake Ventures and Logos Ventures. Angel investors who participated in the round include Kendall Tang, CEO of RT Knits; Ben Munoz, co-founder and CEO of Nadine West; Sumit Bhasin of Estee Lauder Inc; Patricia Ithau, CEO of WPP Scangroup, and Peter Njonjo, co-founder and CEO of Twiga Foods.
Kiragu told TechCrunch that ShopZetu was born out of the need for a multi-brand marketplace to fill a highly fragmented industry that has “hundreds of thousands of sellers” offline and online, including on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. This, he noted, makes the buying process cumbersome, lacking price visibility and customer confidence.
He added that the infinite number of possible storage units makes it nearly impossible for a player to store the available assortment under a single physical location.
“ShopZetu seeks to solve this problem by consolidating the available supply of fashion and lifestyle products under one roof,” he said.
ShopZetu’s more than 300 sellers, mainly made up of large and small local manufacturers and merchants of imported fashion products, currently have more than 20,000 products listed on the ShopZetu marketplace. Onboarding vendors is free, however, they pay a commission for sales generated on the platform and for other additional services including delivery.
“We also offer suppliers a variety of services such as content, digital marketing, warehousing, last mile delivery and returns management. These services are offered at a cost but are heavily subsidized to ensure the success of online providers,” Kiragu said.
“Our goal is to lower the barrier that prevents anyone from starting and scaling a fashion brand by leveraging ShopZetu’s reach and resources. We have good case studies of brands incubated and launched on ShopZetu and then we expand online and establish physical stores,” he said.
The startup requires vendors selling in the marketplace to be, among other conditions, well-stocked, have high-quality products, and inclusive sizes.
The startup claims to have served more than 30,000 customers over the past two years and sold more than 100,000 products, while achieving a more than 400% increase in monthly orders since January 2021.
ShopZetu says it is eyeing the growth of the fashion industry in sub-Saharan Africa, which is currently dominated by second-hand clothes. However, startups like ShopZetu are banking their growth on new, affordable clothing options and Africa’s increasingly fashion- and tech-savvy population.
“We believe the fashion market is huge, as clothing is a basic human need. While a large percentage of this is currently served by second-hand clothing, we are seeing a gradual shift to new clothing at as more affordable options are introduced to the market,” Kiragu said.
“We believe that online fashion retail will overtake formal retail and become the largest e-commerce category in Africa.”