Nigeria’s Supermart.ng start-up offers online food shopping for time-stretched Lagosians
Former Jumia Nigeria executive Raphael Adaedor set up Supermart.ng to become the leading online shopping delivery service in Nigeria. Russell Southwood recently interviewed him about how the service works and what his ambitions are.
Q: What did you learn from your time working at Jumia?
A: I gained several key insights into the working reality of the Nigerian e- commerce space. The biggest takeaway, was the payment-on- delivery model which I realized is not ideal and is holding Nigerian e-Commerce back from exploring it’s true potential. The main problem preventing Nigerian’s from fully embracing web payments, instead of cash-on-delivery is lack of trust in the customer service experience of the retailer and also lack of confidence in Nigeria’s web payment infrastructure.
The stories of people receiving incorrect orders and difficulty in retrieving money debited after a failed online transaction attempts have made Nigerians default to payment-on-delivery as an e-Commerce model. What I learnt was that there is potentially a huge market for web payments and this market can be explored, if sufficient attention is paid to the customer experience and they are given enough web payment options to become comfortable with the idea of spending money on the Internet.
Q: How did you get the idea for Supermart.ng?
A: Nobody else was really filling this gap in the market, i.e enabling people to shop for all their weekly groceries and supplies from the comfort of their homes and have it delivered to them. This process saves time and it works well for busy urban professionals. Giving people that much extra time to spend on themselves and their families was what I set out to do. I found out that there was a market for busy people who would rather not have to go out to supermarkets but instead carry out their grocery shopping online and that is the gap that Supermart came to fill.
Q: What does it do that no-one else in the market does?
A: Supermart takes the stress out of the grocery shopping experience in Lagos, which can be a somewhat chaotic city. Instead of spending several hours in traffic navigating to different supermarkets to get product items, customers can just order those exact items from Supermart at the same price they would get them in-store and have it delivered same day. Also Supermart Prime gives customers free delivery for 30 days, which means that any subsequent orders within that period will not attract delivery charges.
Q: How does it work for the customer?
A: All the customer does is create or log in to their Supermart account, add the items they wish to buy in the basket, proceed to checkout where they can make use of discount coupons if they so wish, then make payment and the order is processed immediately. If the order is placed before 9am, they get it before 4pm that day; and if it is placed before 1pm, they get it before 9pm if the delivery address is on the Island.
Q: Is it web based or is there also apps?
A: For now Supermart is completely web-based, but there is also a fully functional mobile website and the mobile app is under development.
Q: Is it hybrid e-commerce? (order online, pay at the door)
A: Supermart is a fully web-based service, so payment is made at the point of purchase. In order to make it easier for our customers to make payment, we have introduced a number of web payment options so customers can choose to pay with their cards or make payments on Quickteller or carry out bank transfers.
Q: What’s your coverage area and how does delivery work?
A: We presently cover the whole of Lagos, delivering in 2 delivery windows from 12 – 4 and 4-9pm, 7 days a week including national holidays. If the order is made before 9am, it will come within the 12-4 window, and if the order is made before 1pm, it will fall within the 4-9pm window.
Q: Which retailers are you working with?
A: We work with a large number of partner and non-partner retailers to make sure our customers get the items they want. Presently we partner with Spar, 9 to 7, Arc Lights, Café Neo, Chi Shoppe, City Dia, La Boucherie, Hub Mart, Med Plus, Medvacc, Mega Plaza, Nars, Office Everything, Park ‘n’ Shop, Peanuts House and The Fish Shop. We also work very closely with the open market, sourcing Nigerian ingredients like Efo leaves, Shaki, Ponmo, etc.
Q: Who are your main competitors?
A: Our main competitor is the open market. Physical retailers like Shoprite and the open market are places that people go to for their groceries, so we inevitably share market space with them. There are also a few mom-and-pop type online grocery retailers with a limited assortment of 1,000 – 1,500 Stock Keeping Units (versus our range of over 70,000). These include value4naira.com, gloo.ng, nkataa.com and madamsabi.com. None of them have the scale that we have and most of them offer packaged products only, while we offer packaged as well as fresh products, including meat, fruits, and vegetables. The level of professionalism in our operations is also significantly higher. A case in point is that if you visit our website, you will see pictures of exactly what you will get when we deliver to you, whereas if you visit some of these sites, you might see a kilogram of beef offered with the picture of a cow displayed.
Q: How many customers do you have?
A: Our customer base has been growing very steadily. Over the last 15 months, we have been growing at a rapid clip of between 15 – 25% month-on-month growth and we see that continuing. The primary driver of our growth is our phenomenal customer service. From the point, a person places an order on the site, to the point when we deliver and afterward. We have carefully tailored the experience to be pleasant at all times. Our customer experience rating has therefore also grown proportionally to our growth in customer base. We now average over 95% of our customers rating their experience as good or very good.
Q: What’s your average order (in Naira)?
A: Our growth has been a function of both a growth in our # of customers and the average basket size. We started off in May 2014 with an average basket size of N5,000. Today our average basket is over N16,000, and even this is increasing. The fact remains that grocery shopping in Lagos is cumbersome and tedious, so as long as we keep giving customers what they want, they keep rewarding us with more and more of their grocery spend. Also coupled with the fact that they get items at the same price as they would in-store makes them come back until using our platform becomes a regular lifestyle habit.
Q: Who are your investors?
A: We have a blend of individual and institutional investors. They are predominantly local. Our institutional investors are Savannah Technology Fund and Golden Palm Investments.
Q: What are your ambitions for the company over the next three years?
A: Over the next 3 years, we will be steadily building Nigeria’s largest grocery delivery service and teaching people to get their groceries delivered, so they can spend the 6 hours they save on family, friends, relaxation, or other more pleasant endeavors.
Image credit: Techpoint.ng