Q&A: How Kaymu is helping thousands of Nigerian SMEs move to the cloud

Ecommerce is a big deal in Nigeria. Several SMEs are considering it as an option to reach bigger markets without expanding their office space. But the complexity of the technology behind running an efficient ecommerce platform, in addition to the high cost of marketing, make ecommerce a future pain for SMEs.

But Kaymu, an online marketplace, makes it possible for SMEs to realise their ambitions. Over 40 000 SMEs in various parts of the country are already on the platform, and thousands are joining each week.

I caught up with Evangeline Wiles, who’s the MD of Kaymu Nigeria, recently at the Lagos Startup Week. We spoke extensively about Kaymu, its customers and merchants, competitors, online payment and several other pertinent issues on the ecosystem in Nigeria.

Ventureburn: How has Kaymu faired in the Nigerian market?

Evangeline Wiles: We are able to make money based on commission to our merchants and we do offer them unique propositions — it’s an opportunity for them to do ecommerce. We now have over 40 000 merchants on our platform because people see a value in what ecommerce is all about.

VB: How are you able to encourage and convince SMEs to come on Kaymu, including those who believe they can run their own ecommerce platform?

EW: When you explain to someone that this is an opportunity to make more money, they want to know how. That’s how we start our pitch. We ask them “how many shoes do you sell per day?” Would you like to increase that number without leaving your physical shop?

People are often receptive to an additional channel to sell their products especially when you tell them they can sell their products across Nigeria, even though they are just in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt or any other city.

It is easier to get them on the platform if you approach it from the benefits to the SMEs. When you also make them realise it is not that difficult to do, and they won’t change much, it becomes easier. Daily, we have thousands of platforms that sign up on Kaymu daily on their own because they hear about Kaymu from friends, they go online and find out on their own that the process is really easy — something they can do on their own.

For the tech savvy SMEs who prefer to launch their own ecommerce platforms, I tell them until they are able to raise significant sum of money to compete with Jumia, Konga and us to do online marketing, they can list their products on Kaymu, they can use Kaymu as a way for them to use our marketing money.

I always tell them come and sell on Kaymu, just because you have your own website doesn’t mean you cannot sell on Kaymu.

Read more: Kaymu Nigeria launches new schemes to improve quality and performance

VB: Kaymu is not only in Nigeria, it is in several other African countries and elsewhere. How is Kaymu Nigeria performing in comparison to Kaymu elsewhere?

Evangeline Wiles: Kaymu Nigeria is the first; we’ve been here for the longest. Everybody is growing quite rapidly and quite well depending on how long they’ve been in the business. We are in 17 different countries across Africa, doing extremely well.

Some of them are very new, maybe six months old and are therefore significantly smaller. Some of them are playing in smaller markets and you can’t expect them to be as big as Kaymu Nigeria. Throughout Africa and across the world, people are very receptive to what we are doing and offering at Kaymu.

VB: Even you Kaymu is not the one with the inventory of products on the platform, yet customers still attempt to hold you responsible when they have a bad experience with merchants. How far will Kaymu go to take responsibility for the unsatisfactory actions of merchants on the platform?

EW: We are developing the Kaymu brand so obviously we will take some responsibility but what we do is to educate the buyer and the seller to know what Kaymu is. But if a merchant behaves badly, we try to talk to customer and compensate to resolve the dispute. And if the merchant continues to behave very badly, we can kick them off the platform.

Read more: Kaymu seeks to accelerate Nigerian entrepreneurship with new campaign

This is something that we do all the time because we don’t to create a bad user experience because if one merchant ruins the buyer experience on Kaymu, that buyer may not come back to Kaymu and that merchant could ruin it for other merchants on the platform.

VB: You recently noted that the ability of customers to quickly deliver is the key in ensuring that orders are not cancelled. Is it possible for Kaymu to have a standard delivery time?

EW: Not really because we can say something will be delivered within five to seven days but if we can’t control it, I can’t promise it. Since we don’t control it, all we can do is to give you a range of when the expected delivery time would be, but we tell the merchants what we expect from them. And we help the merchants as much as we can.

Talking to the major players in the ecommerce ecosystem in Nigeria, they confirmed that while customers are open to checking products on ecommerce platforms via mobile, they tend to complete the transactions on desktop. Are you also observing this trend on Kaymu?

People are definitely moving towards mobile and majority of our traffic definitely comes from mobile. People still go on desktop to complete transactions but we are seeing significant increase in mobile and especially with our app, the movement is growing significantly.

VB: What impact do you think cash on delivery has had on the ecommerce space in Nigeria, considering the fact that some startup founders are claiming that ecommerce is bad for the market?

EW: For me, for is important is to be able to get the consumer what they want. If the consumer is not willing or able to pay online, we need to provide options. I don’t think it is killing the market at all, for me, I think it is allowing the customer to trust us and to build a brand that is trusted by consumers so they do feel comfortable putting their credit card details online and using other payment options.

Until we’ve done a better job on that, I still want to give the consumer what they want and they want right now is cash on delivery. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. It is our job to educate the consumers but I don’t think cash on delivery is necessarily a bad thing.

You are introducing new payment options even though you said the new payment options will not replace cash on delivery as customers’ preferred payment choice. So why not just focus on enhancing the choice method?
We want to move towards online payment, we want to move towards 80% cash on delivery and 20% online payment. This is something that requires time.

It requires us educating the market and building trust. But I still want to have the online payment option because that is what I’m working towards — to achieve 20% cash on delivery and 80% pay online.

VB: From the technological perspective, where do you see payment on Kaymu Nigeria in the next three years?

EW: It will take three years to achieve fifty-fifty cash on delivery to online payment on Kaymu Nigeria and it will take five to seven years to see a 30 to 70 shift in favour of online payment. But that of cause depends on the robustness of the payment options. For instance in Kenya where mobile money is largely embraced, we may be talking of incorporating it into the system.

VB: The Kaymu app is really popular and based on this experience what would you recommend for someone interested in venturing into ecommerce, especially in the Nigerian ecosystem – would you recommend developing an app or focusing on mobile site?

Read more: Nigerian online marketplace Kaymu expands to Morocco and Ghana

EW: I will recommend because I think app is the future. It’s good to have a mobile site and it’s good to have desktop. App has functionality and our experience is it has worked better for us. If you are able to really optimise your mobile site for every phone, then of cause I think that works as well.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you put your resources behind it. For us, we decided to put our resources behind app; we also put some of our resources on the mobile site as well don’t get me wrong. But the app is working very well for us.

VB: Some of your merchants also list their products on Jumia and Konga. Do you think you have any edge over these ecommerce giants?

EW: Ecommerce in Nigeria is just three years old. If you are a supplier and you are able to be on all three platforms, it’s a benefit to you. As we grow, of course, every customer will know about each platform and would have preference. For us you’ll get the best practice and widest assortment on Kaymu. I have no problem with merchants being on Kaymu and other sites.

But going forward, they will realise that if you are on Kaymu and you give customers the best prices, you will get most orders.

VB: Who would you describe as your biggest competition?

EW: I don’t think there is anybody that is like us. People like to compare us to OLX but we are nothing like OLX, we are also being compared with Konga because of their marketplace service — but you know we are not like Konga. For us, we occupy a unique position.

If you see it from the customer perspective, they compare us with any platform where they can buy anything. We are making sure we give the buyers the best service and prices. And looking at our business model, I think we are quite unique in Nigeria.

Paul Adepoju


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Ventureburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.