SA e-commerce startup Pet Heaven sees 120% yearly growth

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South African startup Pet Heaven, an online pet food delivery service, has seen 120 per cent growth over the last year on the back of raising funding from Silvertree Internet Holdings.

Launched in 2013, Pet Heaven stocks premium products from top quality international brands such as Hill’s Science Plan, Royal Canin and Eukanuba, plus a range of local brands like Ultra Dog and Montego.

The online store has since inception increased its range to include dog and cat food, treats, toys and other pet accessories, and distributes in and around Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. It will soon be expanding countrywide.

“Pet Heaven is unique in that it specialises in an online-only pet supplies business offering a convenient delivery service, recurring scheduled deliveries to keep pets regularly fed, exceptional customer service and competitive pricing on all premium brands,” co-founder Schalk Kearney told Disrupt Africa.

“South Africa has an extremely large pet population, but e-commerce is still in it’s infancy and has allowed us to enter the market with the clear intention of becoming the number one in everything pet online.”

The company – which currently has a team of 10 people with warehouses in Cape Town and Johannesburg – saw organic growth from launch but has taken off since raising funding from Silvertree Internet Holdings last year. Pet Heaven has seen growth in excess of 120 per cent, with Kearney saying he sees no signs of this slowing down anytime soon.

“E-commerce is starting to become part of our everyday lives as online service providers find more creative ways to save people the time and effort of having to visit busy shopping malls,” he said.

“Some online service providers even go beyond the conventional convenience of home delivery by automating the shipping of essential goods.”

Though he said competition in the market is always increasing, with various offline stores looking to enter the online space, most e-commerce platforms are focused on more localised markets and cannot make the economics of delivering heavy bags of pet food work for them.

“E-commerce is the epitome of where economies of scale is needed, and without volume it is really difficult to maintain a positive cashflow,” Kearney said.

“Our marketing is very focused and is mainly directed at existing online shoppers from various other verticals. The beauty of an online platform is the ability to manage and measure ROI as everything we do can be reported on and analysed. Our focus will start shifting from performance marketing to more brand awareness as we realise that many pet owners are not aware of the option of shopping for pet food, treats and toys online.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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