Wale Oguntokun had a chat with Nnamdi Ekeh, an alumnus of the University of Lancaster, who is currently the Vice President of Yudala.com, one of Nigeria’s biggest ecommerce organisations. Enjoy the chat:
How has the journey for Yudala been so far?
It has been an interesting journey for us so far. In fact, we surpassed our projections for 2016, which is a very good development and shows that there are loads of opportunities.
So, would you post your figures from major campaigns, like competition?
I think what matters the most is that you are making money, posting figures is more or less showbiz as far as I am concerned. If you’re making money and your customers are happy, then there is absolutely no need to make noise.
The Yujara campaign was a major one for you last year, how often should the public expect campaigns like that?
This year we have a roll out plan for all our promos and we will be announcing them shortly. We actually have a lot planned, so customers should actually expect a lot from us that will make them truly happy.
What is your current and long term strategy for logistics?
Currently, we run a hybrid system comprising of our own internal and external logistics to augment what we have. That said, our long term strategy is to build our own internal logistics company because we cannot rely on other companies. If you need your goods urgently in your Port Harcourt store by tomorrow, for instance, you can’t rely on a logistics company because at the end of the day, the logistics company will have to wait and batch the goods before they move. If we wait for this scenario to play out then business will be affected.
Based on your strategy, when do you expect to be number 1?
Very soon…. We expect it to happen very soon.
How many months?
I am not God, so I can’t say exactly, but I’d say that by the end of this year, Yudala expects to be number one.
24 hours delivery – can that ever be a reality?
We already have it all worked out. Right now, we are spending a lot on vans, buses and other items that will make it a reality.
Will that be only in Lagos?
No, nationwide. This is why we want to have a shop in every state so that once you place an order, it does not leave from a central warehouse in Lagos, but leaves directly from the closest shop to you.
How are you competing with Jumia and Konga?
A lot of people compare us with them, but we are different in the sense that, we have a composite structure. We are very different and in the real sense they can’t compete with us because we have our offline and online structure which is very unique and it is something that they see that they are lacking because, at the end of the day, they have to get goods from Lagos to Abuja for a customer in Abuja while we will send from within Abuja to the same customer.
How about if they build regional warehouses, won’t that help them compete better?
Yes, regional warehouses can work, but a store is closer to the people. Our long term plan is to go beyond having a store in every state to having it in every local government, which means we will get to the customers faster.
What is your perspective on ecommerce growth in Nigeria?
Based on projections, e-commerce in the MEA region is expected to grow by at least 20% this year and that is the highest projection in the world. If you look at countries like China and the USA, they have seen their growth in ecommerce, so this is the time for Africa and Nigeria. We are going to see a lot of jobs coming into ecommerce and very soon we will see Government pay more attention to ecommerce in Nigeria because it is a huge market.
What should Nigerians expect from Yudala in 2016?
1. 24 hours delivery will become a reality for the first time in Nigeria. Competition is doing 3 to 8 days which can even be cancelled. This 24 hours delivery is guaranteed for sure!
2. Best prices: we want to assure you that you will always get the best prices on yudala.com because we buy and stock.
3. Superb after-sales service: unlike with competition, where once you buy, you are on your own, with Yudala, we can guarantee you the regular warranty that comes with the product, but we will also offer you additional insurance on the product which will ensure that whatever happens to any smartphone that is bought from us – we will fix it for you at no cost or in some cases replace it.
Are you sure about that?
Yes! This will clearly set us apart from competition.
This is indeed going to be an interesting year for ecommerce in Nigeria.
You’re correct and Yudala is here to make a big difference.
Are you taking Yudala out of Nigeria?
Yes indeed! Our motto says it all. The largest online and retail chain in Africa. So, our market is not just Nigeria but Africa.
What are the challenges of ecommerce in Nigeria?
The first challenge is the dearth of adequate skills in the ecommerce and retail space. Government needs to invest and train citizens for the ecommerce market.
Another challenge is logistics. Moving goods around Nigeria is not very easy and that is because of lack of good means of transportation.
Finally, lack of infrastructure, like power and data, are major challenges because of the real time nature of ecommerce. We expect Govt to quickly resolve all these challenges.
How are you ensuring that workers won’t be sacked like Jumia?
We are different because we are building from the scratch, based on our local understanding of the market. Competition tried to import a business model from the west and tried to force it into the Nigerian market. We understand the Nigerian market and we are building a business for the market.