Online shopping business plans to shake up retail sector

Online shopping business plans to shake up retail sector

DURBAN - Allsale Club is a members-only online shopping business which aims to save consumers money on everything from everyday branded items to luxury items. 

Led by co-founder and e-commerce veteran Justin Drennan and co-founder and Chief Executive Michelle Lehrer, Allsale Club has the experience of two of South Africa’s leading e-commerce market players, online shopping website Wantitall and full-service fulfilment and distribution facility ParcelNinja.

Drennan said Allsale Club leveraged existing Wantitall and Parcel Ninja processes, infrastructure and IT development, translating into a fully functioning supply chain from launch.

"Allsale Club works with suppliers around the world to bring more than half a million products to South Africans, many of which are not currently available on local shelves. With a members-only approach, the business model is driven by membership fees and not margins. This means we pass great prices on to our members and we have developed internal incentives based on decreasing margins," said Lehrer.

She added, "We believe we are launching at a great time for consumers, as value businesses thrive in a recessionary environment. We are everyday value and everyday great prices. We won’t bombard members with promotions, we want to build trust that our best prices are always what members pay. Technology and the marketplace have met and the result is Allsale Club". 

According to Lehrer, they plan to disrupt retail sales in South Africa by using a business model similar to that of Costco, the American multinational corporation which operates a chain of membership-only warehouse clubs around the world. They stand for quality at great prices, and this is what we will deliver to Allsale Club’s members.”

Membership is via a monthly fee starting at R79, with no contracts, lock-in periods or cancellation fees. It costs R79 for six months at a time, R89 for three month at a time and R99 per month. 

Shopping categories include health and beauty, baby and toddler, toys, fashion, homewares, household and consumables.

"In apparel alone, we offer 500 international brands currently not available in South Africa, and more than 250 in the cosmetics and hair care categories,” Lehrer said. While other items may already be available locally, members will benefit from everyday low prices without having to wait for sales or promotions," said Lehrer. 

The site handles all import related charges including duties and offers free returns. "We’ve made our business transparent for customers - the price you see online is the price you pay, including VAT, with no hidden customs duties," said Lehrer. 

The website went live on September 2. According to the company, the reception to a members-only model has been fantastic. The online shopping business has received phone calls with positive feedback on the membership model and people telling them about how great an opportunity this is to deliver lower prices to South Africans. There has been a lot of traffic to the site with people really impressed with the site's prices and range.