Innovative E-commerce Logistics Solution
In a groundbreaking development, South African e-commerce startup TUNL has secured $1 million in pre-seed funding from esteemed investors, including Founders Factory Africa, Digital Africa Ventures, E4E Africa, and Jozi Angels. This injection of funds is set to propel TUNL's mission of transforming cross-border shipping costs for e-commerce merchants, particularly in emerging markets like South Africa.
TUNL's Founding Vision
Founded in 2022 by CEO Matthew Davey and COO Craig Lowman, TUNL emerged as a response to the high shipping costs faced by e-commerce merchants, particularly smaller businesses, in South Africa. Davey, drawing from his experience as the managing director of a Dutch company importing South African engineering materials, identified a pervasive challenge in the industry.
Addressing Shipping Cost Challenges
TUNL claims to assist e-commerce merchants in saving between 50% and 80% on international shipping costs. This is a critical intervention, considering that the current challenges in cross-border shipping cost African businesses an estimated $50 billion annually in missed opportunities.
TUNL's Unique Approach
One of the distinctive features of TUNL is its transparent and democratized pricing model. By establishing its economy courier service to the USA and forming partnerships with global courier companies like UPS and FedEx, TUNL significantly reduces shipping costs for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa.
Enhancing Merchant Flexibility
On the TUNL platform, merchants can offer customers various shipping options during checkout. This includes an "economy" courier option with shipping costs starting as low as $10 from South Africa to the USA, offering a slightly longer delivery time of 10 to 14 days. Alternatively, customers can choose faster shipping options (within a week) with FedEx or UPS at a more reasonable cost than they would obtain individually.
Explosive Growth and Market Impact
Since its launch, TUNL has witnessed a remarkable 35% month-on-month growth, with over 700 merchants now part of its "shipping club." The platform has facilitated the shipment of over 11,000 international parcels in 2023, representing exports from South Africa worth more than R24 million (~$1.3 million).
Strategic Expansion Plans
With the recent funding, TUNL aims to fuel its expansion in its primary market, South Africa, and establish its presence in other key African and emerging markets. The startup plans to partner with similar marketplaces and platforms on the continent to amplify its impact.
Looking to the Future
As TUNL continues to reshape the landscape of cross-border e-commerce logistics, the focus will now be on utilizing the seed funding to enhance sales and the onboarding process for new merchants. The company envisions streamlining the onboarding experience, transitioning from customer support assistance to a more self-service approach.
TUNL's innovative approach to reducing shipping costs and democratizing access to global markets positions it as a catalyst for the success of SMEs in South Africa and beyond. The journey ahead involves not only improving the efficiency of cross-border logistics but also empowering merchants to envision a world where their products can transcend domestic markets.