Yuppiechef – National Business Awards Digital Company of the Year – is cooking thanks to exceptional customer service
Meet Andrew Smith, CEO of Yuppiechef “COVID has accelerated the rethinking of everything and forced us to question how we do things as businesses, how we educate our children and how we view our home spaces.”
“At Yuppiechef we have tried to adapt to the shift in the supply chain and stepped into the gaps that the crisis has created between demand and supply.”
“Opportunities are there – try not to get disheartened – even though people have less and there is a shift in spend, stay positive, hang in there and we will make it through.”
Andrew Smith is a Hilton College graduate with a ream of high school awards to his name in everything from poetry and verse to mathematics and science. The Dux student graduated in 1998 and tried his hand at a degree in Computer Science, but three months in, decided he was better suited to the business world and left to take up a position as the lead programmer for a Pietermaritzburg-based business that developed websites, intranets and ERP systems.
In January 2002, he left KZN to open a branch of the business in Cape Town. After a few years of selling time to clients, he and three friends set aside three days to develop an e-commerce site to start selling online. The group sourced an electric racket for swatting flies and mosquitos, found a courier, set up payment facilities and cobbled together a website from which they sold what was called the Bug Zapper. Their first sale was to Smith’s mother and, over the course of the next eight years, the business racked up over a million rand in Bug Zapper sales, before they handed it to new owners.
Having had reasonable success with the e-commerce element of the Bug Zapper website, Smith and his business partner Shane Dryden decided to embark on a new project selling kitchen tools online. Dryden got in touch with a few foodie friends and, based on their insight into kitchen tools they just couldn’t live without, the idea for Yuppiechef was born.
The pair built the original Yuppiechef site with 32 products supplied by a solitary brand and without credit card facilities. Ecommerce was relatively new in South Africa at the time and it took Yuppiechef a year to get to 200 customers, which Smith admits was largely made up of family and friends.
Something that Dryden and Smith got right from the very start was exceptional customer service and it is a trend that has continued to be a defining characteristic of Yuppiechef for close on 14 years. They wanted their customers to know that there was someone on ‘the other side of the internet’ who cared. To this day, Yuppiechef takes pride in every one of the close on 1 million handwritten notes that have accompanied their deliveries since the start.
Yuppiechef is now a household name, stocking 9 000 products from some of the world’s leading brands and boasting a long list of awards in advertising and website design, including the Best E-commerce Site in South Africa on 7 occasions. Yuppiechef surprised the market in 2017 with the decision to move into physical retail, and with seven stores across South Africa already flourishing, the future of the brand is brighter than ever.