22nd February 2024 4:44 pm
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We tested if Zulzi really can deliver groceries in 20 minutes

Why go to the shop when you can simply open an app and have your groceries delivered?

That’s the question we’ve been asking since grocery deliveries really took off in 2020. While one could get prepared food delivered rather easily through the likes of Uber Eats, getting fresh raw food delivered wasn’t really possible.

With lockdown in place, the likes of Checkers Sixty60 and Bottles (now Pick n Pay asap!) became destinations for those who didn’t want to venture out into the world where COVID was.

Now it feels almost normal to have groceries delivered within the hour but a little startup promised us deliveries in under 20 minutes.

Zulzi has been around delivering groceries since 2016 but really became a name last year.

Unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons. Complaints online were rife regarding sloppy delivery times, missing items and even failed deliveries.

At around the same time, however, the startup secured R30 million in funding from an undisclosed firm.

Recently, we’ve been seeing more advertising for the app and the promise of its fast deliveries was interesting but we were doubtful. Last week, however, we spotted Zulzi piling on Matthew Booth which inspired us to test the app out.

Upon further investigation, we discovered that the delivery fee for Zulzi and Sixty60 were identical so when next we needed groceries and weren’t in the mood to go out, we’d test it out.

This afternoon during our loadshedding block, struck by thirst and a cheese sandwich craving we decided to put Zulzi to the test.

We ordered:

  • Blue Ribbon Classic White Sliced Bread 700g – R17.99
  • Oros Original Orange Squash 2L – R44.99
  • Parmalat Cheddar Cheese – R69.99
  • Coca-Cola Zero 2.25L – R23.99

In total, our delivery came to R191.96, which is R1 cheaper than the same order from Checkers Sixty60.

We placed our order at 13:16 this afternoon and within two minutes the app informed us that the driver was on their way. We were shocked, this didn’t seem at all possible and yet, just shy of 18 minutes later, our order arrived. To make things even more astounding, the delivery arrived by car and not a motorcycle.

Our cheese and soft drinks were cold and the bread was placed in a separate bag to prevent squashing. The delivery driver was incredibly friendly and it was a fantastic experience.

Unfortunately, despite this great experience, we can’t outright recommend you delete your other shopping apps as Zulzi has some problems.

For starters, when we tried to sign up for the service we weren’t sent an OTP to verify our phone number. We had to place a call to support and the next day we were able to receive an OTP to move forward with account creation.

The second problem we encountered is variety.

The selection available is incredibly limited with a large portion of items listed as “Back Soon”. With that having been said if we needed a few more drinks at a braai or to top up the salad, we’d tap on Zulzi.

One other thing we’d like to see is our full total before we tap Checkout. Perhaps we’re conditioned by Checkers but being able to see the sum of our order before we have to provide payment confirmation would be a nice touch.

How is Zulzi making these speedy deliveries happen? We have reason to believe that the startup uses dark stores.

So-called dark stores and restaurants are incredibly popular overseas and they are starting to gain traction locally as well. A dark store is a warehouse or more technically a fulfilment centre.

Essentially your order comes in, an employee picks things off of a shelf and a driver collects and delivers them to you.

While we can only find one mention of Zulzi using dark stores via The Africa Report, this solution appears to be what Zulzi is using. In that piece, it’s mentioned that unlike using an established grocery store, Zulzi doesn’t need to charge a service fee and our invoice has no such fee.

This sort of solution makes sense as it gives Zulzi the ability to tend to orders quickly while not having to pay the overheads a physical store brings with it. This also gives the firm the ability to hone its operations and focus on efficiency.

Reviews on the app are mixed but sentiment has been positive of late. The firm is responding to queries and while our sign-up hiccup wasn’t great, it was solved quickly enough.

We recommend downloading the app and kicking it around to see if it can work for you but as mentioned, don’t make it your primary grocery delivery app just yet.

We like what Zulzi is doing and while it’s not replacing Checkers Sixty60 as our favourite shopping app yet, it just might if it keeps improving.

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