Before lockdowns became a thing, Sine Ndlela was running a successful vegan ice cream business, with distribution centered on markets and health-focused retail outlets. The aim was to grow across Johannesburg and then South Africa, before expanding into an international brand.
While this is still Sine's aim, the pandemic made her shake things up, accelerating a shift to online sales as retail stores closed down. But home delivery proved to be pretty different, particularly in terms of what customers preferred in their product experience. She implemented a minimum order, as customers seemed to prefer buying multiple tubs online, as opposed to going to the grocery store where they might pick up just one. Sine also introduced a subscription option and is working on developing product packages. Developing a bright and playful website, and finding a trusted designer who understood the vision for the Yococo online shop, was also particularly important to ensure that the brand was consistent.
But one of the key learnings Sine gained in making the shift revolved around the delivery of the product to customers' houses, and how that offers new opportunities for a special experience that isn't possible in retail. Now, she personalizes each online order with the customer's name, includes the option for a hand-written note for a special occasion and offers packaging in unique coloring boxes that can help entertain kids while they eat their ice cream.
‘I've always wanted to have this delivery service, where people feel like they're getting gifts delivered,’ she says. ‘It gives customers an experience that they can't necessarily get from retail.’
For our ‘25 big lessons from small business’ series, we scoured the world to find inspiring people to share the lessons they've learned from running their own companies. Click here to read the other stories.
This special feature was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.