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South African e-commerce startup
South African e-commerce startup

TUNL, a South African parcel shipping platform, has successfully raised $1 million in pre-seed funding from investors, including Founders Factory Africa, Digital Africa Ventures, E4E Africa, and Jozi Angels. The startup, founded in 2022 by CEO Matthew Davey and COO Craig Lowman, aims to address the challenges faced by e-commerce merchants in South Africa by offering more affordable international shipping options.

The platform claims to help e-commerce merchants save between 50% and 80% on international shipping costs, a significant issue for smaller businesses in emerging markets like South Africa. The founders identified that shipping costs often exceeded the value of products for small- and medium-sized merchants, negatively impacting conversion rates.

TUNL has formed partnerships with major courier services like UPS and FedEx, securing competitive rates and subsidizing SMEs’ shipping costs by 50% to 75%. The platform offers transparent and democratized pricing, providing various shipping options during checkout. This includes an “economy” option with shipping costs integrated into the product price, enabling free shipping via TUNL’s courier service with a longer delivery time, as well as faster options with FedEx or UPS at a more reasonable cost.

The startup has experienced significant growth, with a 35% month-on-month increase since its launch, and over 700 merchants now part of its “shipping club.” TUNL’s merchants have shipped over 8,000 international parcels in 2023, representing exports from South Africa worth R19.5 million. The platform generates revenue by taking margins on orders placed on its platform.

While TUNL primarily focuses on helping merchants in South Africa export products to the U.S., the U.K., Europe, and Australia, it plans to use the funding to expand in its primary market and prepare for launch in other key African and emerging markets. The startup also aims to improve sales and the onboarding process for new merchants, with a focus on customer support assistance and a more self-service approach.

TUNL’s CEO, Matthew Davey, emphasized the company’s commitment to helping merchants grow internationally, stating that they have received positive feedback from merchants who credit TUNL with transforming their businesses and enabling them to reach global markets.